Happiness is more than you
The new year has arrived and some people are considering what they would like to declare as new year’s resolutions, what goals they would like to set, etc. Among the frequently mentioned topics as losing weight, earning more money, finding a new romance etc. is the goal of wanting to get more happiness in life.
Happiness can be elusive. There are those who will want to buy a new car, go on an exotic vacation, struggle to win at every competitive game or business deal or earn the most coveted airline frequent flyer miles like the George Clooney character in the movie “Up In The Air.”
Does any of these aforementioned activities make anyone happier?
Recent research regarding what contributes to happiness has revealed the following:
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
Women have been great about tending to relationships for generations. It’s not uncommon to see women who have other women friends and have these relationships go on for decades, even for a lifetime.
Men, however, generally speaking don’t spend years and years cultivating a lot of relationships with other men. Instead of affiliation, quite a few men tend to tough it out and go through life alone. This trend can sometimes result in disastrous consequences, i.e. poor health, addiction, even suicide. There is also the gender stereotype that men need to be self-reliant, only depend upon themselves. As Simon And Garfunkel observed “I am a rock, I am an island.”
How then can more people find happiness in the process of being with others?
First, it might be helpful to emphasize that in life its always better to travel with others than to travel alone. Having someone to talk to, share viewpoints, debate, even disagree and yet be committed to being together can have great merit.
Also, individuals can find meaning and joy with organizations i.e. churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, holy places of all sorts. Again, another Harvard study found significant findings regarding women who attended church and their health.
The researchers found that women who attended religious services more than once per week had a 33 percent lower risk of dying during the 16 years of follow-up compared with women who never attended religious services. Women who attended services weekly had a 26 percent lower risk, and those who attended services less than weekly had a 13 percent lower risk. The researchers also found that women who went to services regularly had lower rates of smoking and depression and were more likely to have strong social support than those who didn’t.”
One wonders what the results would like with men who attended church regularly and what effect that had on their health?
As you make your list of goals for 2023, consider attending more social functions, play cards with friends, go for walks with your neighbors, maybe even attend some church services.
There may be a good chance that you will be healthier and happier.
A great prescription for all!
May it be so.
Rev. Peter E. Bauer is a United Church of Christ minister. He is the Interim Minister for First Christian Church in Lockhart. Rev. Peter E. Bauer has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Medium.Com.