Emotions, long life and health
Wendel Abel, I AM WHAT I THINK
We are all driven by feelings and emotions. People with more positive emotions tend to do better in life. Additionally, people with more positive emotions suffer less illness and, even when they become ill, they experience fewer complications and live longer. This has been shown to be true in people with diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes who have positive emotions.
Recently, I have been spending time with people who enjoy long lives. In general, they too have positive emotions and share some things in common. As I learn from the experiences of these people who enjoy good health, live long and have a good quality of life, I would like to share a few tips with you that will change your life today.
1 Help others. Give and live today. Many of the happiest people in this world find time to help others. The act of giving provides great satisfaction for the giver and makes the receiver feel life is worth living. Giving to and helping others gives one a greater purpose in life and provides a better sense of well-being. It also teaches us to be grateful for what we have and for the fact that we have something to share. St Francis of Assisi wrote that 'it is in giving we receive'.
2 Socialise with others. As we socialise more with people, we create a supportive network that is able to provide information that can make a difference in our lives. Friends and family are there to provide emotional support, especially in times of crisis. For many of us, the people with whom we interact may also provide material support when we need it most.
3 Playful behaviour. Playful behaviour is important and it is not only for children. We should find time to play with our intimate partners, colleagues, family members, friends and children. Play can take many forms. It may be sharing jokes, playing a game of domino or partying with friends. Play allows us to share joy, laughter and fun with others. It is through play that we strengthen bonds of friendship and develop trust. Play is a great source of relaxation. Engage in playful behaviour, take up a hobby and go out and enjoy yourself today.
4 Never stop learning. We live in a changing world. It is important that we subscribe to the process of life-long learning. Some of the happiest people are those who are constantly learning new things. Learning stimulates the brain, it gives us the opportunity to meet new people and makes us feel better about ourselves and prevents stagnation. Some of the happiest people at the work place are those who are constantly learning new skills and making themselves more marketable. Even older people can learn new skills. Grasp every opportunity to learn new skills and do new things. Go and learn new hobbies, to use the computer or learn a second language.
5 Spirituality and faith is important. An acceptance and a special relationship with a power greater than ourselves is important. That special relationship with a greater power provides meaning and hope in life. It also can be a source of inner peace and comfort in your life.
6 Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise can make a great difference in your life. I have been actively exercising for the past five years and that has made a great difference in my life. Exercise is good for your physical health, but it is also great for your emotional health. Research has shown that exercise affects chemicals in your brain that make you feel better about yourself and others. Persons who are depressed will find that exercise can make a great difference. You do not have to do strenuous exercise that hurts. I have found walking for at least 30 minutes per day for at least three days per week is adequate for most of us. Start an exercise programme that you will enjoy. Do not stress yourself. Enjoy your exercise and, remember, it does not have to be painful.
Dr Wendel Abel is a consultant psychiatrist and head, Section of Psychiatry, Dept Of Community Health and Psychiatry, University of the West Indies; email email@example.com.