Is Your Health Connected To Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness?

By Steven Finkelstein|Updated October 3, 2022

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a well-known phrase from the United States Declaration of Independence. These three rights were called “unalienable” by the founders of the United States, which means they should not or are unable to be taken away. It is a noble-sounding notion, and it is also one on which most people have been able to agree. But have you ever thought about how these rights might be related to your health? In many ways, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” can be related to your overall well-being.

Life And Your Health

Life — one of the rights described in the US Declaration of Independence — is linked to health and wellness. Without good health, quality of life can be affected. Aside from your life is protected under the law, what can you do to boost your health and quality of life?

10 healthy living tips to promote a healthy mind and body include:

  1. Making healthy food choices.
  2. Being active and getting regular exercise.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight.
  4. Protecting skin from sun exposure.
  5. Practicing safe sex.
  6. Not smoking or using tobacco and not abusing drugs and alcohol.
  7. Managing stress.
  8. Making an effort to develop an optimistic outlook.
  9. Asking for help when you need support.
  10. Visiting a healthcare provider for regular check-ups and preventative care, as well as for physical and mental health concerns.

Are You Living The Happiest Life Possible?

Most people engage in the “pursuit of happiness” in some way or another. However, the meaning or experience of happiness may be different for one person than it is for another. It is a personal feeling and is very subjective. It may refer to a passing good or happy mood or a deep sense of meaning in life. Happiness may come from many components, such as a sense of satisfaction, positive relationships, meaningful work, what you have versus what you believe you want, genetics, and life circumstances. A sense of happiness can have a positive impact on health. Similarly, health can have an impact on happiness.

Research shows that happiness can promote good physical health in several ways, including:

  1. A tendency to eat a healthier diet. Feelings of happiness are linked with choosing to eat healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This habit comes with a range of health benefits, such as a lower risk of disease and better heart health.
  2. The likelihood to exercise more. Feeling happier increased the likelihood of being more active physically. Health benefits from exercise include muscle and bone strength, increased energy levels, decreased body fat, and lower blood pressure.
  3. Better sleep outcomes. Feelings of happiness have been linked to a better quality of sleep.

While happier people tend to have healthier habits regarding nutrition, physical activity, and sleep, those three habits can also promote happiness.

There are many habits that studies have shown can be good for health and happiness, including:

  1. Exercise. Even a small amount of physical activity can reduce stress, decrease feelings of anxiety and depression, and boost self-esteem and mood.
  2. Mindful eating. A well-nourished body can help with your state of mind. For instance, carbohydrates release serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone. But simple carbs, like sugar, can cause a short energy surge and then result in a crash. So, sticking with complex carbs can be a healthier choice for the body and mind. Food like whole grains, beans, and vegetables have complex carbs. Beans, poultry, dairy, and lean meats are high in protein and help with the release of norepinephrine and dopamine, which boost concentration and energy.
  3. Healthy sleep habits. Getting 7-8 hours a night of sleep (for adults) with the same sleep and wake times can be good for physical health and emotional regulation. Sleeping in a cool, dark room and taking time to wind down before going to bed can help promote restful, restorative sleep.
  4. Gratitude. Feelings of hope and happiness can be boosted by consciously and purposefully identifying specific things that you’re thankful for each day. Writing them down can also be a healthy habit.
  5. Acts of kindness. Acts of kindness, even something as simple as complimenting someone, can boost feelings of happiness and satisfaction. It can be a win-win—you may make someone’s day and also feel good yourself.
  6. Deep breathing. Conscious deep breathing can reduce stress. There are many methods of deep breathing. A simple one is to take a slow, deep breath in through your nose while counting to five and then exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to five—and then repeat until you begin to feel calm. You might also try closing your eyes and envisioning a calm, soothing setting while breathing.
  7. Acknowledging unhappiness. Remember that nobody is happy all of the time. If you feel unhappy or something negative happens, it can be healthy to accept the feelings and try to process them. Consider what you can do to feel better. Would giving it time help? Improving your mood by doing something positive? Taking some action to change a situation?
  8. Facing stress. Instead of avoiding stressful situations, trying to address them can be helpful. For instance, instead of stressing about a difficult conversation and task, you might feel better if you take action and have the talk or tackle the challenge.
  9. Decluttering. Clutter can cause stress. It can also steal precious time. Imagine the calm of having everything in its place and being able to find it when you need it. Envision a clean, calm environment. This can be soothing.
  10. Spending time in nature. Spending 30 minutes or more each week in green spaces can lower blood pressure and decrease stress and feelings of depression. This could be in a park, a yard, a garden, a destination—any place you feel comfortable.
  11. Letting go of grudges. Releasing grudges and forgiving others can help you let go of negative feelings.
  12. Spending time with others. Connecting with others can boost mental health. Spending time with friends and family, volunteering, or joining a group with shared interests can all be positive ways to avoid isolation and enjoy human connections.

Who Are The Happiest People?

Happiness varies from person to person, but research shows that the happiest people may have certain things in common:

  1. Strong relationships with people who they trust and who they feel are supportive.
  2. Time to spend doing what they enjoy with the people they enjoy. Happier people tend to value this time over money.
  3. Enough money to pay their expenses and bills.
  4. A sense of gratitude and appreciation.
  5. A generous spirit and willingness to act kindly.
  6. Increased levels of physical activity.
  7. Time and resources for experiences as opposed to prioritizing material things.
  8. A sense of mindfulness and staying present in the moment.
  9. Time to spend with friends.

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness — And Good Health

In 1776, the founders of the United States wrote The Declaration of Independence, a document that is the written embodiment of what the United States of America aspired to be: a collective of individuals who have freedom. Purpose and intent state that each one of its citizens wants to live as they so choose, freely pursuing what makes them happy as long as it does not infringe on the well-being of others.

Where our health is concerned, the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" doesn’t just have to be an idea. With good health — and the freedom to seek healthcare — you can live a happier life. Through BetterHelp, mental healthcare is affordable and convenient. You can connect with a licensed mental health professional virtually. They can offer you support and tools to help you live a happier, healthier life.

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