We all have different goals in life, but most of us hope that we will generally be happy. “Happiness” is an abstract goal, but there are some very specific reasons to strive for it, and there are particular techniques that can help you achieve it. For this week’s Focus Point, we will discuss the important connection between health and happiness.

Health and happiness are clearly related. How many times have you gone into a workout feeling tired and reluctant, only to discover you felt much better when you were done? In the long term, the health that comes with increased physical fitness can offer us confidence, resilience, and personal strength, all of which can lead to happiness.

The converse is also true; happiness can lead to increased physical health. Scientific research has proven this to be so over and over. Optimism and emotional well-being decrease the risk of heart disease, immune dysfunction, diabetes, and stroke. Conversely, negative emotions like stress and anger can contribute to poor health and shorter life expectancies.

Since being happier can make us healthier, and being healthier can make us happier, it’s time to start focusing on both! Most of what we talk about at One on One focuses on health goals. In order to focus on your overall emotional well-being, consider some of the following techniques. Including just one or two of these practices in your daily life can help increase your happiness, health, and overall well-being.

  • Participate in activities that truly engage you. Whether at home or at work, find activities in which you can “lose yourself.”
  • Dwell on the positive. Make a point of remembering and considering joyful, pleasurable moments and occasions.
  • Forgive. Whether you communicate directly with a person who has offended you or simply “let go” of anger, working towards forgiveness can increase your own well-being. Do not hold on to resentments.
  • Cultivate optimism by envisioning your future in a positive way.
  • Proactively nurture relationships that you value.
  • Do not compare yourself to others.
  • Express gratitude for things you feel thankful for, either privately or by thanking people directly.
  • Commit to your goals. Thoughtfully select a few goals and regularly “check in” to see whether your day-to-day practices will help you achieve those goals.
  • Reflect on your spirituality and/or religious practices; many people find great satisfaction in spirituality.

This week, consider ways that you can jump-start the positive feedback loop of health and happiness. Use the suggestions above or simply renew focus on your workouts to help increase your overall well-being.