Happiness and its many health benefits are not exclusive

Happiness and its many health benefits are not exclusive

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If happiness is a chemical-based phenomenon, then it’s fair to assume that those who have trouble generating such chemicals could be left with the short end of the stick. Talk about depressing.

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PETALUMA, Calif., Aug. 10, 2015 – “Recently, a critical mass of research has provided what might be the most basic and irrefutable argument in favor of happiness,” declares Kira Newman in her article on Cal Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center website. “Happiness and good health go hand-in-hand. Indeed, scientific studies have been finding that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger and our lives longer.”

This is great news. But maybe not so great for those who aren’t very good at being happy.

“I have bipolar disorder, and I often wonder how the emotional symptoms that result affect my overall happiness and health,” writes “Tyla” in the article’s comment section. “Do I get the short end of the stick because I suffer from a disease that makes you prone to unhappiness from depression and anxiety?”

That depends.

Defining happiness: Keep it simple

If, as is widely believed, happiness is a largely chemical-based phenomenon, then yes, it might be fair to assume that those whose bodies have trouble generating such chemicals could be left with “the short end of the stick.” This is a pretty depressing thought.

If, on the other hand, there were some other source they might turn to for happiness – a safer, more reliable, less chemical or even completely non-chemical-based source – then no, no one should be left out. Now we’re talkin’.

Try as we might, though, we just can’t seem to shake the notion, or dodge the penalties, of what most everyone assumes to be a matter-based existence. Even so, it’s an assumption that deserves to be challenged.

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love,” affirms Mary Baker Eddy, a religious and medical reformer whose many years of trial and tribulation provided plenty of incentive to seek out the source – and resulting health benefits – of happiness. “It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”

More than a mere statement of faith, Eddy’s conviction that happiness originates in something outside of matter was a profound declaration of truth wrought out of her own life experience -– a truth that, as it became better understood, had the effect of improving, not just her own health, but the health of those she encouraged to consider this same Spirit-based point of view.

Exercising our ‘inalienable right’ to better health

Of course, there are times when adopting such an outlook is a lot easier said than done, particularly when we find ourselves fixating on the happiness of others – what social commentators often refer to as the “fear of missing out” or FoMO. It’s in just these situations, however, when simply being open to the fact that happiness, as a wholly spiritual expression, “requires all mankind to share it” can be especially helpful in breaking through whatever mental logjam would seem to be getting in the way of our own sense of contentment.

Even more important than the revelation that “happiness and good health go hand-in-hand” is the understanding that happiness is not exclusive. No one is left out. And ultimately, no one can be or should be deprived of its many benefits, not the least of which is better health.

Eric Nelson writes each week on the link between consciousness and health from his perspective as a practitioner of Christian Science. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Read similar columns at norcalcs.org and follow him on Twitter @norcalcs.

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