Back to the Basics to Be Happy
Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got. ~ Benjamin Hoff, author – The Tao of Pooh
If you read this blog regularly you know, like others, I suffer through periods where I’m out of sorts and not as happy as I would like to be, life right? When I write about these times I often mention getting back to the basics to be happy. It hit me the last time I wrote that, that I’ve never actually done a post on what that means, so here it is tonight.
Getting Back to the Basics
First of all when I say the basics what am I talking about? I’m talking about the essentials of life, the lower levels of Maslow’s Pyramid if you like. My short list includes the following; eating, sleeping, exercise, drinking water, shelter, safety and human contact
Nutrition is incredibly important, so one of the first things you have to ask when you’re feeling out of sorts is are you eating right? And what does that even mean? For me, having blood sugar issues it usually means am I laying off of Coca Cola. But in general the issue is, are you eating in a balanced way. Are you getting enough protein? Are your meals of consistent sizes and eaten at consistent times. Are you eating late at night just before bed or eating things that are leading to upset stomachs or indigestion? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? And yes I sound like your mom right now, but making sure your diet is balanced lets your body act naturally and do the things it is supposed to do. Eating right is a great first step to feeling better and it’s a lot easier to be happy if you physically feel good.
Are you getting enough sleep? This is a really fundamentally important question for me. If I’m not getting enough sleep I seem to eat worse, and my mood really starts to tank and can lead me into a bout of the blues pretty quickly. Sleep is also not always a consistent period, the myth of 8 hours of sleep doesn’t work for everyone. Some people need less, some people need more. When I’m exercising regularly and eating well, about seven and a half hours is enough for me. The worse my diet is the more I need and when I’m eating poorly and my blood sugar is high I often regularly need 9 hours a night. Having enough sleep is a great way to try to be happy. A rested brain that has had the chance to recover helps everything look just a little bit better.
Regular exercise, I know, it’s the last thing you want to hear about, but regular exercise is really crucial to overall health and to help you to be happy. When you exercise you sleep better, you reduce your stress levels and a myriad of other benefits to regular exercise.
Probably the easiest way to correct feeling out of sorts sometime is just to drink some water. Being properly hydrated is something that I pay a lot of attention to as someone who hikes, lives and plays in the desert. Getting dehydrated can actually be quite dangerous. I remember the first time I went to Burning Man, the playa where it is held is hot, dry and at a couple of thousand feet above sea level. I had driven in from land cool, moist sea air in Monterey, CA. But being a tough guy I started right in setting up and going hard at getting my camp set up. A friend and veteran burner kept calmly recommending that I take a break, have a snack, drink some water. I didn’t listen, at least not until the world began spinning a bit. Then a chair, a cooking and about 32 ounces of water got things right. An extreme example I realize but staying hydrated is hugely important.
Shelter and Safety
This is one that I really hope is a quick check off of everyone’s list. The biggest of the basics a roof over your head is an absolute basic need. It’s incredibly hard to be happy if you are homeless because not being sheltered from the elements also means you have no safe place to sleep. These things though have a less literal interpretation though that is equally important. Are you comfortable in your home, is your home environment free from stress and conflict, is it a refuge from the world or just another place in a storm. Safety also means psychological safety. If the place you call home is not someplace you feel safe and sheltered, it’s hard to be happy.
One of the things that gets overlooked as a basic to be happy is a decent level of human contact. There is a lot of research on the benefits of getting hugs. But any caring contact matters. One of the things I love most about visiting oldest sister’s house is that fact that my nieces are both hug machines and the older is the best back scratcher I know. Massage is also a way to get this type of contact. We release chemicals in our body when we get caring contact that elevate our mood and help us to be happy.
So when you’re feeling a blue, a little out of sorts try getting back to basics to be happy. Go through the checklist, most of the time something off of the list above is lacking. So get what you need and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
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