Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Your Happiness

american flag

by Autumn Pappas, CHHC, AADP

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”       

Perhaps no statement in American history is better known or has been more powerful and iconic than this one issued by Congress in the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. Not only does this proclamation entitle us, as Americans to powers that cannot be given away nor should be questioned; equality, life, freedom, but it also allows us the right to pursue our happiness. As Americans, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” has become our birthright; our motto; our creed.

What does it truly mean to pursue happiness? In modern society, many of us have come to believe that the “pursuit” of happiness is the journey we take in order to achieve our desires. If we follow the pursuit, eventually we will get a bigger house, our ideal career, become more popular, choose the right mate, have the perfect family—and then we will be happy. But happiness is fleeting. Satisfaction never lasts long, and soon we are hungry for more. How can we stop this endless cycle?

First, learn to be present in the moment. Unhappiness often comes from dwelling on the past and feeling anxiety about the future. All we truly have is now. Meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises are great tools to help you stay present in the moment. Next, be of service. Giving selflessly not only builds self-esteem, and brings meaning and connectedness to one’s life, but also enriches the lives of others. Lastly, be grateful, and share your gratitude with others. Gratitude takes merely seconds, can lift our spirits and make our hearts soar.

Happiness is a choice. It lives inside of us always; we just must learn how to tap into it. This fourth, while you sit under firework-filled skies, surrounded by your communities, families and friends; I hope you feel inspired to breathe in the moment, to extend your hand to be of service to another and lastly, that you have things in your heart to be grateful for.

Happy 4th of July!

Health Coach Autumn

 

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Want to Beat The Winter Blues?

 winter oak tree

By Autumn Pappas, CHHC, AADP

Do you find yourself feeling a little low in the winter time? Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s the shorter days—but somehow you just can’t seem to get out of a funk. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that affects 25 million Americans each year. Symptoms include loss of interest in activities, oversleeping, irritability, sadness, poor sleep, low self-esteem and anxiety. Whether you suffer from SAD or not, here are some great tips on how to beat the cold weather blues and start looking on the bright side of things.

Exercise. Exercise is a natural stimulator of serotonin and dopamine, two very important mood boosting hormones. Serotonin also regulates hunger. Physical movement increases metabolism, and stimulates the digestive tract which can help prevent bloating, constipation and indigestion.  Not in the mood to exercise? Find an exercise buddy this winter and hold each other accountable. Start a new exercise class, dance around to some holiday music, or take a brisk thirty minute walk. This will get your heart rate up and help trim your waist line at the same time.  Don’t wait until January to set some fitness goals.

Stick to a healthy diet. Sadness can increase food cravings and send you rummaging for sweets.  Caffeine suppresses serotonin and can have the same effect. Stick to serotonin-boosting foods like bananas, flaxseed, wild fish, high quality eggs, buckwheat, and free range turkey so you don’t get caught up in a vicious cycle.

Stay on schedule. It’s hard to stay motivated when the weather is cold and it’s dark outside.  Sticking to a normal schedule will keep you upbeat and focused, as well as keep you from procrastinating. Surprisingly, procrastination in not only linked to stress but depression as well.

Invest in good lighting. Our serotonin levels drop due to the lack of light in the wintertime. Sitting within three feet of a 300 watt bulb for 20 minutes a day can help. You can also purchase a UV lamp or a Happylight. These lights mimic sunlight and encourage the production of Vitamin D. Furthermore, spend time outdoors during the peak hours of daylight.

Increase your Vitamin D intake. Check with your doctor to see if you should up your dosage in the winter. Vitamin D is a key contributor to our overall health. It supports our bones, brain, nervous and immune systems.

Try a new activity this winter. How about a painting class, cooking some new healthy recipes, or volunteering for a local cause?

Lastly, start a gratitude journal. It’s important to notice the beauty of our world, kind gestures and the little things in life. Gratitude can have an immensely positive effect on your self-esteem, health, career and relationships.

To your health!

Autumn (check me out at www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)

*This  article was written by me, and featured in the December 2013 Issue of the Port Ludlow Voice.