I wanted to share my gratitude and thanks for each of you this holiday season as I give thanks for the many blessings in my life.
While our work is important, I want to focus on the really important things in our lives - family, friends, purpose, and mindset. These are the relationships and perceptions that define health and good lives.
We will always face challenges in our lives, but instead of wincing and wishing these challenges away, we should instead look at them as opportunities to grow. The difference between seeing something as good and bad is often your mindset and I wish for you the ability to trust that things will always work out as they should, even if we don’t understand them as they happen.
Steve Jobs, in his famous address to Stanford University in 2005, said that you can’t see your life as it goes forward, only as you look backward. We can all think of things that initially seemed bad that turned out good.
As I have blogged, I believe we are spiritual beings with human experiences, so perhaps each challenge we overcome is like learning lessons in school. Remember, we can’t be healthy unless we have some stress - that is the benefit of exercise on our health. The secret is not to let the stress be chronic.
How do we do this?
Stay in the moment.
Mindfulness or meditation can slow your mind down and let you stay in the present. I find a walk outside in nature with a friend, spouse, family member or with music to help me get in this state of mind. The more quiet your mind and the more in the moment you can live, the happier you will be.
Count your blessings and be grateful.
The odds against us being alive and the incredible complexity of our bodies are completely beyond our understanding. We really don’t understand almost everything about everything. Thus, let’s just enjoy these great blessings as we have them. I have often thought that the luckiest of all are the people that understand the priceless gifts we are blessed with that money can never replace. The choice to really see these gifts are on us. I think real wealth is how we enjoy the priceless gifts we have, instead of the number of things we own.
Embrace important people and relationships
Dan Buettner, of "Blue Zones" fame, said that to be happy and healthy, that it is important to have around six hours of social interaction with people you love and love to be with. These social relationships are one, if not the, most important drivers of happiness and health.
Find your purpose
We have talked a lot about this and in many populations, this is thought to be a very important driver of health and longevity. The Japanese call this ikigai, or the reason for being. Whether your purpose is your job, your family, your pet or a social cause, the impact on health and happiness seems to be the same. The author Dan Pink tells us that cognitive workers elevate their performance when they can focus on autonomy, mastery and purpose, not when they are paid for each thing they do.
Find your peace and joy
Most of the stuff we worry about each day is not really important and is driven by the worry for future events. I think that in addition to staying in the moment, the secret to finding peace and joy is trust and faith, like a child.
Surrendering control and slowing down our lives does curiously, accelerate progress and makes it more likely that are lives will be fuller than we would hope for. As is true in many things, I have found that being more like our children - playing, imagining, being in awe, having real joy and being open to the world is the frame that each of us should take. Children live more in the rhythm of our world, which we seem to have forgotten as we have been formally educated and matured.
So for the beginning of our holiday season and at a time that giving thanks permeates each household in our community, I wish you health, happiness and fulfillment. Embrace the qualities of children, find what you love to do and who you love to do these things with and see the world for what it is - a miracle.