The most moving speaker at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) convention I went to in Denver a few months ago was a doctor with Stage 4 cancer who had survived well past all expectations for his disease. While talking about achieving happiness through balance in life, he pulled out of his wallet a card made for him by his daughter, a preschool teacher.
“This is the C card,” he told us. “It says: ‘I have cancer. I can do whatever I want.’”
What a great idea, I thought. As much as it resonated with me, though, I couldn’t help but feel there was more to it than that.
Recently I was comforting a dear friend who had lost her mother. Remembering this handout from the AAFP, I held her close and said: “You’re a mourner now. You can do whatever you want.” I might as well said: “You have the M card.”
There’s this crotchety old guy in his eighties whom I’ve known for years. He does whatever he wants. I don’t think he actually carries a card in his wallet that says: “This is the O card. I am old. I can do whatever I want,” but he might as well. He is indeed old, and so he is entitled. Read more »
The bilious oil hemorrhaging from the bowels of the Earth, coupled with the usual stressors of life, makes me feel sad and pessimistic of late. And while I’m still pretty sure that ignorance, intolerance, and our polluting routines will be our ruin, I also search for ways to retain optimism and hope. Amid the constant erosion there are basic roots that hold life together. If you share the belief that life is fundamentally absurd, then life is truly what you make it. Are there small steps proven to make us happier?
Psychology often concerns itself with helping ailing people get back to a neutral ground, but the field of positive psychology aims to do more. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, positive psychology’s most renowned proponent, once said: “I realized that my profession was half-baked. It wasn’t enough for us to nullify disabling conditions and get to zero. We needed to ask, ‘What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish?’”
To that end, research on happiness, optimism, positive emotions and healthy character traits has been increasing in psychology. Some surprising results challenge our assumptions, such as the fact that once basic needs are met, money does not increase happiness. Neither do high education or high IQ. Older people tend to be happier than young. The sunny weather in California and Florida does not make people happier than those living in colder and cloudier climes. Read more »
You know that person you work with, the one that always seems to be in a bad mood, the one that never smiles, the one that never has a nice thing to say and complains about every little thing? The person that just seems miserable? I don’t think any of us would say: “Oh, I want to be just like him or her!”
Now think about the person who attracts you and who you want to be around. It’s the person that’s full of life, who is happy and grateful, and who can always find kind words to say and share a smile. It’s the person with that contagious smile that radiates and instantly lifts your spirits, the type of person who is sure of themselves and who isn’t afraid to say “no.”
As individuals, we are unique and we have the ability to build a life filled with passion, purpose, happiness and vitality. By taking the goodness and strength that lies within us, we can become a positive magnet for others. Read more »
For decades, research has suggested that people with positive emotions may live longer and healthier lives. An analysis of the autobiographical writings of 180 Catholic nuns found those with the most positive feelings in their early twenties had the greatest chance of being alive sixty years later. Now, the first study of its kind has linked positive emotions to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. Read more »
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