7 Secrets to a Healthy and Happy Life

I’ve had the great good fortune of living a long, healthy, and happy life. I’ve also conducted years of research on how to help my patients do the same. And, because I believe that health and happiness increase when shared, I recently summarized my 7 Secrets to a Healthy and Happy Life in a book of the same name.

These secrets for health and happiness don’t require a trip to the doctor; nor do they require expensive products or treatments. They do, however, take investment: investment in taking care of yourself—the once-in-a-lifetime unique combination of DNA, molecules, talents, and abilities that is you.

I believe that we’re all capable of health and happiness and that the two are inextricably connected. Unfortunately, one of the most common barriers to both is stress—especially the 24-hour, all-pervasive stress of modern living, Cultural Stress.

Cultural Stress causes chronic, low-level inflammation, which is linked to virtually all of the degenerative diseases and conditions associated with aging—from Alzheimer’s to cardiovascular disease to wrinkles! Chronic inflammation is also associated with depression and anxiety.

While we can’t change the cultural matrix in which we all live, we can change our response to it. This is the underlying foundation for the 7 Secrets to a Healthy and Happy Life.

Secret #1 is this: Happiness lies within; it’s not “out there.” There is no external reward—a partner, a job, a house, a car, even winning the lottery—that can provide long-term fulfillment if you are ultimately not happy with yourself.

To cultivate happiness within, you must follow Secret #2: Honor yourself. So many of us underestimate our own worth because we’re caught up in the never-ending task of living up to others’ expectations. That’s a game you’ll never win, and it’s also a game that betrays the reason you were born: to be the one and only YOU.

You honor yourself by treating yourself well—mind, body, and spirit. That includes a healthy diet, regular exercise—preferably that you enjoy!—nourishing skincare, and feeding your inner self. For me, honoring my inner self means giving myself a creative outlet. Mine is painting, but the important question is: what’s yours?

Secret #3: Why have a bad day when you can have a good day? So much of what happens to us is beyond our control—from traffic jams to pandemic lockdowns. In fact, there are days when it seems that absolutely nothing goes right. But if we adopt the mindset that we’re going to have a good day anyway, no matter what, it’s amazing what can result. Transitions, after all, are the precursor to opportunity. And seeds that are planted underground, in the dark, are what give rise to flowers in the spring. Are there seeds being planted in your darkest days? Only you can cultivate them to find out.

Secret #4: Beware of creating your own stress. There’s enough of that provided by the world—everything from natural disasters to economic losses to the insatiable expectations of others. Don’t add to them by holding your own unfair expectations of yourself. One of the most common ways people do this is by spending too much time on social media, rather than in real-world relationships or their own satisfying pursuits. Unplug! Step outside! Go for a walk! Meet a friend! Pursue a hobby. Free yourself from solitary confinement!

Secret #5: Be imperfect; live longer. Perfectionism is one of the leading causes of self-imposed stress. Even though we know that perfection is impossible (no one can do everything right according to everyone’s standards every day of their lives), we often act as if we should be able to! We just don’t want to disappoint anyone, ever. Instead, we disappoint ourselves, continually. This adds to our stress, shortens our lives, and shortchanges our happiness. So what if you’re not perfect? Neither is anyone else! Strive for excellence, instead of perfection, and live longer and happier.

Secret #6: One key can open many doors. This secret is meant to encourage you to understand the root cause of the conditions standing between you and happiness. When you do, you will be surprised at how circumstances will begin to spiral positively, rather than negatively. For me, a key that changed the direction of my entire life was a conversation with a friend’s uncle, who encouraged me to go to medical school. At the time I was an engineering student—but wasn’t very happy in it. What a difference that conversation made!

For a patient whose story I describe in my book, the key that changed her entire life was this Insight card: Forgive yourself. Until she read that card, she hadn’t even realized that she was holding onto the past and all the disappointment and self-recriminations she felt about it. Forgiving herself set in motion a cascade of positive changes in her life.

Secret #7: Give yourself permission to… You fill in the blank! Give yourself permission to be healthy, happy, AND successful. You don’t need anyone else’s authorization. YOU are the author of your life. Be and do what fulfills the one-and-only you. You can even give yourself permission to throw away those diet books—like one of my patients did. Instead, she put herself on what she called a “whole life diet.” She organized her life around what made her happy—including her work, family, and social relationships—and as a side benefit, she also lost weight. In fact, when I saw her again a year later, in the produce section of the grocery store, she’d lost so much weight and seemed so much more relaxed and happier, that at first I didn’t recognize her! You can do the same; you just have to give yourself permission.

7 Secrets to a Healthy and Happy Life is not available in stores or online. However, I AM offering a signed copy of the book, for free, to the first 10 new subscribers to my (also free) Modern Wellness Digest, as well as to 10 current subscribers chosen at random. If you know someone who might benefit from the book, be sure to send them the link to this post. Even if they’re not among the first 10 to subscribe, they will receive twice-monthly insights on health and happiness in the pages of my e-newsletter.

Wishing YOU health and happiness!


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