The Happy Science of Mastering Your Health

The right footing to start off on would be one that is cautious, curious, inquisitive, questioning, experimental and yet a little skeptical. We’ve all heard preachy stuff on the internet about how one diet can cure ailments your doctors have no answers for.

We’ve read tall theories of the mystical healing powers of essential oils to the discoveries weight loss magic pills. In this fast-paced commercialized environment we live in today, our senses are constantly bombarded with information. It’s hard to sift through them all because we’re innately hungry for it.

But just because we are hungry doesn’t mean we should devour it.

As I approach what we call the ‘middle age’, losing weight is all the rage right now. Every other friend of mine is on a mission to lose weight and I encourage them to do it if it makes them feel better about themselves. Yes, please do it! We all deserve to feel better about ourselves, and I’ll use this apparently outdated teen slang, YOLO. My kids are rolling their eyes right now and I don’t care. #lol

Instead of getting on the weighing machine twice a week, it’s more important for us to put crunch time in a more holistic overview. And that gauge is how happy we currently are with ourselves and how happy we want to be. Listen to yourself instead of spreading yourself too thin with a flurry of activities ranging from running, gym, yoga, cycling to keto diets, juice cleanses, massages, therapies, and medication.

I am no professional and if what you’re doing now is making you feel great, there’s no reason whatsoever to listen to me or anyone else. But I am just going to float some ideas around for the benefit of anyone who is caught in the quicksand of information.

A Healthier Gut Leads Not Only to a Healthier Body but Also a Calmer Mind.

assorted vegetable lot
Photo by Magda Ehlers on

It starts in the gut and I learned this a little later in life when my toxin-flushing capability got slushier than I thought was normal. What you eat ends up either flushed away or stocked up in your system. Of course, I think some McD or KFC over the weekend is not too much to ask. Bottom line is natural is good, unnatural is NOT. It’s really as simple as that and you don’t need a dietary education or be a doctor to know that and yet, we forget. And, let’s admit this, sometimes we get too lazy to care.

The article Mastering Your Body, Mind and Health has a good list of things to eat/drink and things NOT to. I won’t say it’s the go-to list for the world’s best diet but they are worth noting. And if you’re into Podcasts, here’s one to check out – Food for Thought – Literally (it’s on Stitcher). It touches on everything from cholesterol, world food influences, low-fat fad diets to how did we even come up with the food pyramid.

Fruit and Veg Up Like the Spaniards and Japanese

I found it interesting when someone mentioned the fact that Spanish people were outliving their counterparts in other parts of the world. I mean, we all know the Japanese had the 10 commandments for healthier eating and longer lives, but Spanish? This calls for some Spanish recipes to be added to my cookbook library.

But when you dig a little deeper, it’s not at all that surprising because it all boils down to…yes, natural food. There are communities that don’t have modern supermarkets filled with aisles upon aisles of low-fat yogurt infused with berries and bananas and frozen pizzas. Fast food might even be just a luxury they can live without. This is a harsh comparison to make against how accessible fast food is to us, modern, urban folks. To these octogenarian gonnabe’s, it’s all about grabbing fresh food, be it meat or local produce, from a neighboring market like The Mercado de Maravillas; in fact, a meal without fresh food and meat from the local market is inconceivable or at least, incomplete.

María, who didn’t want to give her surname, turned out to be 75. “Yes: seven five.” Her secret? “It’s olive oil, vegetables, fruit, fish, not too much meat, the odd beer and a little bit of wine,” she said. “Oh, and you need to enjoy your life, your friends and, above all, your family.”

Well said, Maria. Well said. If you live happier and more connected, you might end up living longer.

Modernization Might be Detrimental to Our Well-Being

yellow plush toy
Photo by Pixabay on

Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, with its fastest-growing GDP in the world and boasting of its title, the “Happiest Country in the World”, is also facing a dilemma. It keeps a positive GNH, Gross National Happiness, and for countless years was revered and look-up-to as a country devoid of pop culture tropes.

Tucked neatly and comfortably between China, India, Nepal and India, the last Buddhist Kingdom in the world is largely isolated from the rest of the rapidly modernizing world. The changing landscape of quick-touch smartphone communication, to-the-minute breaking news, and breakneck globalization efforts, even Bhutan is slowly caving into its quicksand effects.

As tendrils of the commercialized world slip itself into the bubble of Bhutan, it now contends with a downward spiral on the happiness scale. Its balance is tipping.

In Bhutanese culture, where unity is prized, the advent of democracy has been a mixed blessing. Bhutan is also one of the only carbon-negative countries in the world – Washington Post

With democracy introduced, there is now inside political feuding, splitting hairs within families, and small arguments amongst friendly neighbors. One politician promises to bring in local funding for better roads, another promises to ensure the availability of clean drinking water for all. This may sound like a typical day, election or not, in any other country, it was never so in the small, Indiana-size country. The happiness of its people used to shape the course of policy-making in the country and as far as the people were concerned, they were happy.

They downplay political campaigns and its people steered clear of bitter showdowns by trying not to defame or belittle their political opponents. It’s called civility. But with social media blazing, Bhutan finds itself caught in a net typical of a democracy.

“I would love to go back,” said Karma Tenzin, 58, sitting in his apartment in the picturesque capital, Thimphu. “We would be more than happy.”

Whether the “Happiest Country in the World” can avoid going off the rails, it remains to be seen. I only hope for the best for them because I intend to visit this quaint little country one day.

Creative People are Prone to Unhappiness

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

The world that creative people live in is a highly confusing, an emotionally-draining, and sometimes high octane one. Ideas flow freely and so do emotions. This often means creative people are often happy, but also annoyingly detached from reality. You live in Unicorn world so you can create rainbows.

If an idea or a story latches onto me, I can go on forever if there’s no reality. Fortunately, OR unfortunately, there is.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. – Albert Einstein

The truth is, happiness for creative people takes extra effort.

This list of 22 Secrets for Creatives Who Want to Increase their Health, Wealth and Wisdom hit a few nerves with me, and I agree that there are unique ways for people whose heads are often fluffed up in the clouds to stay grounded. But if you’re a busy working mom or a high-ranking CEO of an up-and-coming startup whose boots are always busy stomping through fields of reality, these quick anti-stress suggestions might get the needle moving.

Instead of envying your friends on Facebook, take some time to do something for yourself. It is a proven fact that the more you passively scroll through social media, the more miserable you will feel about reality.

Happiness is a State of Mind, Not Real Estate

At the other end of the spectrum, happiness is a journey, not a destination. So cliche but true. One must take conscious steps every day in the right direction to reach our own desired level of happiness. You can use social media to your advantage – download exercise apps, join groups, make friends, actively participate in conversations – these are activities that can elevate one’s contentedness with the world.

If you’re feeling a little down, there are simple ways to motivate yourself to exercise and it can be anything from running a marathon to yoga. You can even schedule up the time to listen to sounds of singing bowls! Whatever floats your boat, I say.

…it’s healthy—almost necessary—to sometimes be unhappy in order to find lifelong well-being. It is entirely up to us to have the strength to overcome whatever’s thrown at us – Mind Body Green

Self Soothing Salves

adult alone blur close up
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

Being gracious about your own situations, statuses and being resilient in taking one step after another, therefore, is key. The hardier you are, the happier you’ll be. It’s not about ‘being happy all the time’, it’s about one’s determination to see happiness in things that others deem devastating. Facing negative feelings (I’m still learning how to navigate this curve) is a tool we can use to derive more quickly at a more optimistic view of life.

The more obstacles we overcome, the happier we’ll feel and this explains a lot of things. One thing we must remember is that nothing is written in stone. Your triumphs may morph into traumas any instant and we have to be OK with that. One moment you’re showing off your best realities on Instagram or Facebook, the next, they could dredge you through the mud in real life. At some point in your life, someone must have tried shoving either religion or meditation down your throat. They annoy you, don’t they? There’s no magic pill because… there’s simply no magic pill. And even that fact alone is annoying. #lol

But at least, science is quickly backing up meditation as one of the best mainstream tools to bring out the best in ourselves.

If you meditate, you’re less of an asshole. But it’s hard to prove that with science – Dan Harris

In a report, Al Jazeera, who did an intensive 50-minute report on who owns Yoga and, by default-almost, meditation, daily 10 to 20 minutes of meditation improves brain functions. You’d think 20 minutes is a long time until you sit through it and realize how short it really is. Try an app because I think you’ll be surprised by your 5th sitting.

Yeah, the same way you are, I also know of the many hyped-up versions of yoga and meditation (everything from hot yoga to naked ones – really? This will NEVER end) and I attempt to steer clear.

It is, however, important to be mindful of how the mainstream drumbeat of cure-all exercise regimes seems to promise you magic at every turn. Meditation and exercise will NOT solve all your problems. What it will do is to balance things out and help you inch closer to possible solutions.

Everything between a problem and its solutions is variables. These variables require you to seek solutions and weed out problematic habits in our everyday lives. You’re in a safe zone once you recognize them.

We may not be able to change the catastrophe, but if we are resilient enough to stay, chances are, we’l come out stronger than before.

So, before you embark on anything, talk to someone, be it online or offline. Take things you hear online with a pinch of salt, and consult a professional if you think your situation warrants it.

Last but not least, listen to yourself. Most of the time, you know you best.


  3. Do Meditators Annoy You? Try Meditation – The Guardian
  4. Who Owns Yoga – Al Jazeera

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