We have spent so much time as readers of “Skating Uphill” talking about what it really means to be healthy and to live a lifestyle of personal wellness. Discussions have also centered around life skills, methods of movement, and things that are not only physically beneficial, but also are in tune with mental health. Yes, it is smart to eat well and exercise. It is also healthy to value one’s self and look for things that boost self-esteem.
Living in gratitude and humility seems to be helping people of all ages to discover some sort of inner peace. This inner peace is not some airy-fairy new-age thing, but involves a number of different ways not only to be, but also to interact with others. In fact, it is so deeply satisfying it has a measurable impact on physical health.
So, what is the magic formula, you ask? Thanksgiving seems to be the ideal time to answer that question and to offer some small life changers for us all. Evaluation is always the recommended first step toward positive change, but I don’t think it is really valid in these days of Dr. Phil and pop psychology and so forth. We seem to not only evaluate, but often over evaluate. I am going to start this whole thing by simply asking you what do you do that makes you happy? That is an easy question, I would think.
For example, it makes me happy to sit and drink coffee with my husband in the mornings. It also makes me happy to watch the birds on the lagoon out my window. I enjoy volunteer work. It really makes me happy to spend Thursday afternoons volunteering at a local thrift shop. In fact, I love it. I like to wait on customers. I like to chat with people. I like to see people get a bargain on something they need. I am serving. Serving makes me happy. It also makes me feel both humble and proud. That seems like a funny combination, but not really. I am proud of the service I render to others. There is nothing wrong with that! I am also grateful for the opportunity. I love the people who volunteer with me. What a lovely group of ladies. They are so committed. I can feel that they are also truly enjoying being there. I look forward to this as a happy time.
So, yes, we humble ourselves to serve. I do this also at church and with my own family. Being humble and giving to others is a true joy. I forget troubles and worries, too. One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain. He says: “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles…it is the healthiest thing you can do.” He is right. There is nothing worse for you both physically and mentally than dwelling on yourself and your troubles. Get out there and do something. Oh, added side benefit alert: Survey after survey proves beyond a doubt that socializing with others improves health and prolongs active life (just read Energy Express on page 51).
We have talked about living gratefully in service and sharing yourself and your time with others. What shall we say about being humble? What exactly does that mean and what does it have to do with health? Well, in my opinion, might I say in my humble opinion, living with humility means being in tune with things you feel are important? You have your own values gained by the life you have lived. Good things happen and bad things happen. Our reactions to life situations depend on our personal values. Do you stand up for your beliefs? You know, a truly humble person is not necessarily a quiet accepting one.
Mother Theresa is probably the most frequently cited as humble, yet she was anything but humble when she was asking for things for her mission. She could negotiate with the sharpest businessmen in India for land, building materials and supplies. It was said that she left titans of industry shaking their heads about how much she had gotten from them as she left the room in her humble habit and her quiet gently manner. What a wheeler dealer she was. Humble? Sure. Submissive? Not on your life.
Humility is not simple acceptance either. One of my heroes is the late Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He said: “When those values we care about so deeply become endangered, we become angry. And what a healthy thing that is! Without that anger we would never stand up and speak out for what we believe in.”
It seems this column has been a bit preachy and that was not my intention at all. Happiness is healthy, and that is a fact. I just wanted to share that with you.. Love, Judith