Hap­pi­ness is a choice

The Covington News - - HEALTH - KATHY KURAZAWA

ONE OF THE most pop­u­lar songs to come along in the past year or so is “Happy” by Phar­rell Wil­liams. The first line of lyrics says “It might seem crazy what I’m about to say... Be­cause I’m Happy!” That’s ex­actly how I feel.

I proudly ad­mit that I am a happy person, and I have strong feel­ings about hap­pi­ness. You might think there’s noth­ing spe­cial to say about hap­pi­ness — that peo­ple are ei­ther happy or they’re not. I don’t think it’s quite that sim­ple.

I ad­mit that many years ago I wasn’t as happy as I am to­day, so I def­i­nitely have a point of com­par­i­son. One dif­fer­ence now is that I have a lov­ing and sup­port­ing hus­band and daugh­ter. I have many won­der­ful friends, my two dogs give me great plea­sure, I love rid­ing my mo­tor­cy­cle (that helps me re­duce stress), and I am now proud to be on the team of the Canyon Ranch In­sti­tute Life En­hance­ment Pro­gram (CRI LEP) in Sa­van­nah. One of the topics we dis­cuss in the CRI LEP is the im­por­tance of hav­ing a sense of pur­pose. We talk about joy. We ask each other what brings us joy and mean­ing in life. We dis­cuss — among laugh­ter and some­times a few tears — the choices we can make that lead to the out­comes we want.

That word “choice” is a whop­per. When you feel you have no choices, life can be pretty grim. I be­lieve we al­ways have choices but maybe we sim­ply haven’t al­ways con­sid­ered what they are.

For ex­am­ple, we can choose to watch re­al­ity shows that con­tain neg­a­tive con­tent, fight­ing, or bad lan­guage — shows that “bring us down.” Or we can choose to watch lit­tle or none of that type of pro­gram.

I’m not sug­gest­ing that we ig­nore what’s hap­pen­ing around us, or that we try to live in a bub­ble. I am sug­gest­ing that we can choose to limit the amount of neg­a­tiv­ity we ab­sorb on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. We can turn off the vi­o­lent tele­vi­sion pro­gram or change the chan­nel. We can choose entertainment that is not cre­ated at the ex­pense of oth­ers’ mis­ery. We can choose to sur­round our­selves with peo­ple who are pos­i­tive and sup­port­ive of us.

Do you know some­one who seems to al­ways be wrapped up in trou­bles and sad sto­ries? It’s one thing to be a good lis­tener, but over time, that type of neg­a­tive con­ver­sa­tion doesn’t do the talker or the lis­tener much good. We can choose to change the sub­ject or limit the amount of time we lis­ten.

It’s one thing to talk about hap­pi­ness and another to ac­tu­ally live it. At some point in our lives we all strug­gle with dis­ap­point­ment, sad­ness in re­la­tion­ships, re­grets, lone­li­ness and dreams that never seem to come true. Here are some ideas for how to break the cy­cle and bring a lit­tle hap­pi­ness into your life:

Prac­tice self-ac­cep­tance. When you lose your­self at a fam­ily din­ner and have a sec­ond help­ing of dessert, don’t wake up the next day feel­ing as if you’re a “bad” person. No one can do ev­ery­thing right ev­ery day. Be kind to your­self, and re­turn to your goals as soon as you can. You’re hu­man!

Take time to laugh. Laugh­ter has a way of break­ing ten­sion and mak­ing us feel bet­ter. It’s phys­i­cally healthy, too. When we laugh, blood flows more eas­ily, blood pres­sure and blood sugar go down, the im­mune sys­tem’s abil­ity to fight in­fec­tion goes up and sleep comes more eas­ily. If you have a com­puter, sign up for the joke of the day. Or play a game with chil­dren in your life.

Sleep it off. When we’re not well rested, the small­est ir­ri­ta­tions can build up to ma­jor heart­breaks. With a good night’s sleep, hap­pi­ness of­ten re­turns.

Find BFFs. Most peo­ple think that means “best friends for­ever.” I think it means “best fun friends,” be­cause I place a high value on sur­round­ing my­self with peo­ple who have a sense of hu­mor and like to laugh. I spend time with friends who en­joy rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles as much as I do. The more time we share with peo­ple who don’t “sweat the small stuff,” as my hus­band says, the more time we have to make life mean­ing­ful — and happy.

Fo­cus out­ward. A tremen­dous source of hap­pi­ness comes from do­ing some­thing for some­one else. Even lit­tle things can make a big dif­fer­ence. Write a thank you note to ex­press your ap­pre­ci­a­tion of a friend or fam­ily mem­ber. Help some­one in need or who is less for­tu­nate than you. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.

Al­bert Ein­stein was a very smart man, and some­thing he said is as valu­able as all his math­e­mat­i­cal ge­nius — “Learn from yes­ter­day, live for to­day, hope for to­mor­row.”

I think Al­bert Ein­stein was a very happy person. I am, too. I hope that you are, and I wish you the best in all you do to bal­ance your life to find and keep hap­pi­ness alive!

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Kathy Kurazawa and her daugh­ter Rita Kal­ifeh-Teel share their hap­pi­ness at the grad­u­a­tion of the first group of par­tic­i­pants from the Canyon Ranch In­sti­tute Life En­hance­ment Pro­gram at Cur­tis V. Cooper Pri­mary Health Care. Kathy and Rita both serve on the CRI LEP Core Team.

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