Health and Happiness Part 2

Welcome to another fantastic day of sunshine and love. Grab a friend and came along as we conclude our exciting blog on health and happiness… Too cheerful? Yea I thought so too. But, there is a lot to say about a happiness. Mostly focusing on the physical effects, we can see three major benefits. So grab a friend and come along… wait I already said that… “Expletive!” Moving on.

Happy people have fewer aches and pains. This is not to say they are bullet proof. No, people with a positive outlook on life tend to handle pain better. Is it because they are one with the universe and their crystals are aligned with the Virgo constellation? Um… I’m not even sure what that means. But, what I was going to state is that they produce endorphins. As stated in the last blog, endorphin is a pain killer. That my friend, is how those happy hippies are able to handle their physical pain. It is also a good time to mention that during physical therapy, patients who mentioned they were in a positive mental state recovered faster. Move over bionic man, happy man is here. Wow, that really doesn’t have the ring I was hoping for.

Happiness combats disease and disability. Our immune cells have endorphin receptors. I like to think of those receptors as coffee mugs and the endorphin my body produces is their coffee. Java junkies unite! With a boost to the immune system our body handles disease and sickness at a better rate. This is compared to someone who always has a case of the grumpy pants. Ever had a cold or flu that caused aches and pains? Of course, we all have. Being happy didn’t cure the cold or flu. No one ever smiled and suddenly got relieved of all symptoms. However, those that did smile through the sickness did have a faster recovery time. Miracles are instant, healing takes time. How much time depends on our physical health + mental health. I’m not going to say it’s easy to be in a positive mindset when our nose is running and eyes feel like popping out due to sinus pressure. No, it’s a deliberate act that takes practice. Anything worth doing take some amount of work.

Happiness lengthens our lives. The web of internet has a plethora of evidence that suggests that being happy prolongs one’s life. I like it when a newscaster asks a 101 year old person how they lived so long. The best answer I heard was from an old war vet. The newscaster asked her question and leaned in to get her answer. The gentleman started to think. “Well,” he began, “I just keep waking up.” He chuckled at his own words as the newscaster’s face reflected her disappointment. Forcing a smile she turned to the camera, “There you have it folks, just keep waking up.” She missed it. She missed the “expletive” point. The gentleman wasn’t saying “just wake up.” No, he was showing how to find humor in just waking up. Being able to laugh is one of our greatest gifts. Sadly, there are those among us that choose to use this ability to bring others down. Sad! Being able to find a reason to chuckle makes an ordinary situation great. It softens the blow to a devastating event. We will experience a lot of drama and hard times. We will also experience hope, happiness, love, and joy. Which one will we choose to focus on? That ladies and gentlemen is what will determine the longevity of our health.

Until the next blog, here’s to finding life’s happiness, living life, and being happy.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Health & Happiness Part 1

Today millions of Americans are waking up unhappy, stressed, sick, and just plain tired. Doctors are prescribing medications that only numb the brain. Wake up Doc! You are not fixing the problem. However, truth be known, it’s not their problem to fix. It’s our’s. Our health is our responsibility. We can start with a little TLC. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you probably already know that I’m about to explain how our happiness affects our health. Let’s begin.

It is no secret that lower blood pressure is healthy, but did you know that a lower heart rate is too? The average resting heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). Tachycardia describes a condition where the resting heart rate is higher than this. With a little research one can find an undeniable relationship between how happy a patient felt and their cardio stats. When we are happy our mind is at ease. We feel more relaxed. The troubles of this world seem to melt away. OK that may be a little too much, but we are in a better state of health.

One can easily extrapolate that being unhappy will have the inverse effects. Mental unrest, higher blood pressure, and higher bpm. If prolonged one may develop insomnia. This, of course, would add to ones cardio discomfort. Yes, I believe happiness is not only good for the heart, but essential for it’s health.

Did you know happy people get sick less. As Kid Rock once stated in a song; it’s not bragging if you can back it up. I’m sure there’s some expletives in there. We’ll just let them be. Here is the logistical side of why being happy makes one less sick. Most immune cells have endorphin receptors. When we are happy we release endorphin into our system. These hungry little cells love endorphin as much as we love our coffee. In fact, imagine not getting your morning coffee then forced to talk to customers. Blah!

Happiness combats stress. Let’s face it, stress is intense. Blood pressure shoots up, heart rate increases, and our brain beings to race. Guess what! We do not release endorphins while being stressed. So our immune system takes a hit as well. Did you know that endorphins act as pain killer? Of course you did. This is why we feel more pain during times of stress. Keep in mind that some level of stress is healthy. However, as with anything in life, too much is not good.

There you have it folks. Three ways that being happy can improve our health. From our heart, to our immune system, and to our ability to deal with stress, happiness has a huge impact on our lives. This is why it is important to let no one steal our happiness. In doing so, they are stealing our health. We deserve to be happy. You deserve to be happy. Never take it for granted.

Until next blog, here’s to finding life’s happiness, living life, and being happy.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

DEcomPRESSION

Everything has a cycle. Yup, that’s my attention grabbing, please read this opening line. From sun up to sunset, spring to winter, inhale to exhale, and who can forget our sleep pattern. Insomniac are probably ranting expletives and I’m cool with that. So, what about our happiness? Does it have a cycle? Believe it or not depression helps with happiness. Think of a balloon; a pretty pink, full of air balloon. Now, suppose we filled it up with air. This represents happiness. Then we release some of the air. You got it. This represents depression. Too much depression and the balloon goes flat and there is no happiness left inside. On the extreme flip side of this scenario, let’s keep adding air. More, more, and more brings our balloon to the point of almost popping. It is stressed the {whoops} out. For the love of science and chaos we add one more breath. POP! Our balloon turns to pink mist.

Maintaining a healthy happiness takes work. In the Who Am I blog we covered self-identification. Finding ourselves is important as finding happiness. We also covered financial happiness in The Wanting Well, It’s ludicrous how money controls our happiness. But it does. Happiness does not come easy for the non-medicated. And let’s be honest, medication just numbs the brain. So… getting back to the pretty pink balloon that we popped. We need down time just as we need times of interaction. Times will get tough and life hits us hard. We need time to mentally digest. This is where taking a long walk or meditating is helpful. To be honest, I prefer both. Meditation is a static exercise where only a small amount of energy is spent. It gives the brain a rest. Inversely, a long walk is dynamic. It provides the brain with a mundane activity that provide minimum stimulus and is a great cardio exercise. It’s literally placing one foot in front of the other and going somewhere only to end up where we started. Or, if we really want to get crazy we can use a treadmill and go nowhere. It’s all about options. There are other activities that can be utilized for a relaxed moment. The key is to find that down time. it’s important. I might go out on a limb and say it’s vital.

Wait! Are you saying depression is good?

In this context, depression is any downward feeling from an inflated experience. In the same manner that stress can be healthy, there is a health amount of depression to have. Otherwise, we would only have inflation and that can lead to mental breakdowns. Just as we breathe, there needs to be a healthy balance between inhale/ exhale, work/ relaxation, and happiness/ depression.

Before we carried away, hopelessness, gloom, and self-discontentment is not the depression that is being refer to. These depressions are extreme and toxic to one’s mental health. And so we’re clear on this subject too. It’s alright not to be happy. I don’t go around with a smile on my face 24/7. If I break a plate, I don’t shout “Ta-da.” as I joyfully sweep up the mess. That would be crazy nuts. Emotions have their ups and downs just like our blood pressure. That’s normal. So please, if you find yourself in a stressful situation, find a moment to stop, calm down, and collect yourself. If you have been on the go all week, take some time to meditate and clear your mind. Mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s all part of finding life’s happiness.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

My Focus in Life

Let’s pretend, shall we? It’s a glorious morning. Coffee is fresh, breakfast fills the air as the children quietly scurry to get ready for school. As stated, we’re pretending. The children leave for school, allowing us to go to work. We walk to our vehicle and find a flat tire. Yup, it’s one of those mornings. In the spirit of pretending, we snap our fingers and the tire is changed. Thirty minutes has past and we’re now behind schedule. Traffic is crowded as we make our way. “We’re all running late.”, we exclaim.  An idea illuminates. We’ll inform our boss. After all, we’ll get there when we get there, and not a minute before. With the blessings of our hands free device, we call ahead to let them know we’re running behind. They aren’t happy, but at least they know, and can plan accordingly. We just got our thirty minutes back and are actually on schedule again. Upon getting to work, we are quickly reminded why we don’t wait for the last minute to find a parking spot. Yup! It’s the back 40 acre parking lot for us. Scurrying in with a slight shuffle-trot we find the elevator is out of order. Oh great, we have four flights of stairs to climb. Stressed and breathing heavy from the parking lot excursion, we make our way up the winding, echoing passage. At our desk we are met with a pile of work and a coworker who has the biggest “OMG you’re LATE!” attitude.

This is where we’ll take a breather. A lot has happened to us in the scenario. Let’s start with the children being quiet as they got ready for school. Tell me that not a blessing. Then we had the flat tire. This is where our attitude matters. If we approach it with a tempertamtrum then, yeah, it’s a big deal. However, if we approach it with a “meh, life happens” attitude, then we are more apt to be in a better mood. Moving on to the traffic that wasn’t moving. Driving can be irritating. We all know the best driver is us. Am I right? These idiots don’t know what they are doing. (Might I throw in a slight interjection? Putting others down in order to justify our attitude is not couth in any manner. Yes, some drivers are better than others. That doesn’t make our judgemental statement any less wrong.) What did we do to combat this irritating atmosphere? That’s right we called ahead. Not only did this buy us time, but it alleviated the stress of being late. I even think we smiled a little. At this point we should be stressed, angry, frustrated, and down right nuclear. Nonetheless, we are not. Mostly, due in part to the manner in which we kept composed. A positive outlook on life produces a positive attitude. That attitude in turns affects how we act and react to situation and people around us. It is impossible to be happy all of the time. That would be delirium. What we can be, is professional.

I once found myself in an inspection that completely failed. I tried to fix the program as best as I could but I knew that I was going to take hits. Let’s just say it was worse than that. The Senior Chief pointed out error after error and my blood started boiling as I was embarrassed and aggravated. Then she said the magic words that put me at my breaking point.

“This is no longer an inspection but a training evolution.”

Calmly I replied, “Do you mind if we take a break so I can cool off and collect myself.”

The look on her face was priceless. “I didn’t know you were upset.”

My coworker took one look, “His ears are red as a stop light. Yup he’s pissed.”

The Senior Chief asked about my composure? After all, most people rant, rave, and argue when they get upset. This was quite the opposite to my listening and taking notes. No wonder she thought everything was fine.

“As angry as I am right now,” I stated, “I have a program that needs to be fixed. You have the knowledge to fix it. At the end of the day I’m a professional. Taking notes and staying calm is what I do.”

Without skipping a beat my coworker interjected, “You got that right.” She’d witnessed this action several times in the past

If I had ranted and thrown a fit, would I have learnt how to fix my program? More than likely not. It is vital for us to maintain a positive outlook. Positive outlook does not equate to happiness. However, it does keep us in the right mindset that sets us up for happiness. And that, sets us up for success.

Going back to our first scenario, The coworker with the OMG attitude most likely did not have the right frame of mind to handle our late arrival regardless of the chaos we encountered. In fact we have no idea what chaos others went through to get to work. We aren’t the only ones having a bad day. How wonderful this world would be if we took the time to empathize with each other instead of bulldozing our way through the day.

In closing, I would like to say, inhale the good air and exhale the bad. Breathe from the abdomen. I do this daily for ten minutes or more. Slow abdominal breathing calms the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Do this while setting at work, in traffic, or while walking through a crowded store. Breathe. Everything will be alright. In the first blog of 2019 I mentioned that we should identify our stressors. Click here to learn more.. This is important if we are to reduce stress. We need to know what those key factors are.  We should always work at being professional. There will come a time when we reach our limits. A quick walk or a bathroom break can make all the difference. While on that break focus on the positive and look for a solution. Fact is,there are answers to every question. What we are focused on is what we will find. Is it good or bad? Positive answers will produce positive results. This is why it is important to stay positive my friends. We are professionals at living. Thus, a professional attitude is needed.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy..

AT1_Retired@yahoo.com

Steven Curtis

I Should Be Upset.

I am here on pay day looking at my bank account. What a glorious feeling it is to see hard work converted into hard cash. Except, there is no cash. I have the exact amount that I did before. “Where’s my money?” Oh well, it’s time to activate Plan B.

What’s Plan B, you asked? This is the kibbles and bits I have thrown to the side. This is not just a savings. This is a saving my buttocks savings. A time will come when unexpected hiccups will occurs. Take today for example. Money was not deposited. If I didn’t throw back a little here and there, I would have a different outlook on today. One simply cannot relax when faced with financial blunders. That is why it is important to plan ahead.

How much should we save? oh good question! The quick answer is three times our monthly pay. If we make $1000 dollars a month, we should save $3000. Do we stop there? No! In the event that you save $3000, continue to put back money. When it rains it pours. The more we put back the better we will be. How much per pay check should we deduct? Another great question! Personally I shoot for 10%. However, if 10% is too steep then try 5%. The key is to put back something or anything. With that in mind, $1 per pay check is not going to save us. We need to use logic.

Money can make us emotional. When we get it we’re happy. When we don’t have it we get worried, depressed, angry, and sometimes desperate. With that in mind, a saving my buttocks savings account is actually a “saving me from an emotional break down” account. Say that three times fast. When we save money we afford ourselves a chance to relax during those “Oh snap! My boss didn’t pay me.” moments.

In closing, money can buy us happiness; not in material things, but in peace of mind that bills will be paid. We need to plan ahead. Prepare for bad times. They will come, trust me. Now here is an important tip. When that day comes. Be happy you saved. Don’t throw your head back and trod off complaining you have to dip into savings. This is not healthy. Being happy is healthy and wholesome for the soul. And, that is what this blog is about. Finding Life’s Happiness.

Until the next blog Live life and Be Happy,

at1_retired@yahoo.com

Steve Curtis

Who Am I?

The very essence of our existence comes into question the moment we are self aware. Searching within the depth of our souls, we tear every fiber hoping to find a solid revelation. We compare ourselves to others around to see how we measure up. But, this futile effort leaves us torn and no answers. Who am I?

May I suggest an alternative. Ask yourself “Who do I want to become?”. Do not look towards celebrities, businessmen, or heroes. Look within. Find that special person and work to let it out. Do you want to be kind, gentle, strong, or outspoken? For me, it was happy. I just wanted to be able to genuinely smile and say “Life is good.” In other blogs I will reference this dream a lot. It was my largest milestone. How does one change who they are and become who they want to be? There are steps and processes that are necessary. Bare in mind we are individuals and being different means one size doesn’t fit all. Our dreams are as unique as we are. They are worth chasing so long as they are within reason.

It is good to have dreams, but we must understand their differences. There are constructive dreams as well as destructive dreams. A constructive dream is achievable while a destructive dream sets us up for failure. Imagine I just turned 50 and I planned on retiring at the age of 62. My dream is to retire with $1,000,000 in my 401K. Presently I have $150,000. Logic states that this dream will not come to pass unless I win the lottery. A sense of failure may come over me. No one like to fail. Yes, there are reports of people rushing out to Vegas and losing every bit of their retirement. Sadly, it happens. Now, a positive dream is more productive. Let’s say my dream was to retire with $250.000 in my 401K. By reducing debts and increasing my contributions, I am stepping in the right direction. Both dreams are steep, no doubt. But, the second one is more achievable and will present a sense of accomplishment when achieved.

Our dreams are not our only definition. The manner in which we speak has a huge role in defining who we are. In my late twenties and early thirties I was not so gentle with my words. If I had a point to make I used harshness to send it. This negativity kept people at a distance, and with good reason. Looking back, there are a lot of things I could have changed. Stress controlled my actions. What actions define you? Do others see the person you want to be? I once met a woman who had a habit of manipulating those around her. Her peers took her as controlling and deceitful. However, when asked about her actions, she merely stated she was being helpful. She never saw her actions as defined by her peers. This is why it is important to live by the adage “Let your yeses be yes, and let your no’s be no’s.” Living a life of “maybe’s” leaves room for misinterpretation.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Most of us have heard this before. So with that in mind, the best way to change who we are, or how we appear, is to change our actions. This is easier said than done. Our habits become who we are. Even our bad habits define us. So, how do we change? It starts with a direction. We need to define who we want to be. There is nothing wrong with starting vague. Nonetheless, specifics need to be defined and put into practice. Never underestimate the specifics. My dream of being happy was very vague. I knew that being happy was what I wanted. But how do I get there? How do I maintain that happiness? After all, what good is a dream if I can’t maintain it? Grabbing a paper and pencil, I jotted down my thoughts. I also made a list of things that prevented me from being happy. Standing back, I easily identified that stress was a major inhibitor. This is also how I identified a condition I call stress induced anger. Most people get frustrated, I got angry, loud, and sometimes hostel. This was the complete antithesis of who I wanted to be. Once stress was identified as my inhibitor, efforts were set into motion to reduce my stress levels. I breathed from my lower abdomen. I abstained from activities that raised stress levels. Time management became a huge factor. I didn’t want to feel rushed or under pressure. Some people work great under these conditions; I do not. I had a boss that put pressure on me. He stated stress makes people work their best. I tried to explain that stress hinders my work performance. But, he knew best and continued with the pressure. I stopped and walked away. He threw someone else in my place. In his eyes I failed. At first I felt bad, but staying true to my goal of being happy meant more to me than pleasing others. Yes, others will get disappointed in our changes. But, it’s not about them. It’s about us reaching our goals and living our lives. After all, we can’t please everyone.

It’s clear that asking “Who do I want to be?” can have more positive effects than asking “Who am I?”. And that’s the key; stay positive. It’s not always easy and moments of depression will rear its ugly head. But by staying focused on our dreams we afford ourselves an opportunity to stay on track. We should never over criticize ourselves. There are plenty of people around already doing that for us. It’s not wrong for us to criticize ourselves. It’s not constructive ot over criticize our actions. Live life with a positive outlook. Even a rainy day can have its feel good moments. So soak them up while we can. Better yet, find others who share and support your dreams. By coming together in a like-mind spirit we help each other grow. Stay focused and stay positive my friends. .

Until next time

Live life, and be happy.

AT1_Retired@yahoo.com

Steven Curtis