We finally got snow in the Portland area – I know that many of you want to throw a snowball at your computer at that statement, having suffered a brutal winter! As I was sledding with my son yesterday, I was reminded of how important it is to be happy! And not just because I saw this heart-shaped patch of roadway showing through the snow last night…you see it, right?
Today is also Wear Red Day, a national awareness campaign to remind everyone that heart disease is the #1 killer of women – not breast cancer…heart disease! Having had two loved ones close to me suffering strokes and a family history of heart disease, I know how important it is to live a heart-healthy life.
While I work to exercise regularly, control stress and eat right, the best thing I’ve found that supports heart-health in my life is being happy.
Of course happy people tend to eat better, sleep better, and do all of the things that are better for your heart anyway. But science has proven that happiness, in and of itself, is protective for your heart.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health looked at over 200 studies that showed optimistic people have a 50% reduced risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event, as compared to people who are much less optimistic. One researcher went so far as to say “The most important aspect of well-being is how individuals feel about themselves.”
We are so quick to look at all of our weaknesses, to focus on areas we have failed rather than to celebrate our victories – no matter how small! Want to do your heart a favor today? Celebrate the fact that you got a good night sleep because you went to bed on time when you were tempted to check out your Facebook updates. Celebrate the fact that you drank more water this week than you have been drinking and drank far fewer sodas -regular or diet. Celebrate that you went to the gym twice, even if your goal was to go 5 times this week, because twice is better than none at all! Celebrate that you stopped, took a deep breath, and didn’t reply with emotion to that upsetting email at work this week. You did these things…YOU!
When we are able to be kind to ourselves, our hearts soften to the ability to be kind to others too. Practicing understanding, not assuming we know someone else’s story, and giving people a break. Most of us are just trying. And that some days is worth being kind. It’s amazing how that kindness-karma comes back to you!
I was recently talking to Macey, a fellow blogger (at a PDX Bloggers meeting – happy to share a shout out) about a new project she has taken on. Realizing that we are all in a state of trying to “complete ourselves” (curse you, Jerry Maguire!), she has created an online magazine called [IN]Complete – genius, right? It’s about loving yourself where you are. It doesn’t mean that you can work on being better, but it means that you don’t loathe yourself during the process. Wherever you are, you can find happiness!
Personally, if I need a happiness boost, I turn to music. Here are 3 of my favorite songs lately that are oozing with happiness.
So on this heart-healthy day in this heart-healthy month, be proud of what you have accomplished and focus less on the areas where you need to improve…you can work on being even more awesome, but acknowledge that you are awesome. Every story has adversity. Sure there will be challenges for the hero or heroine in your story, but you will prevail. Love yourself for that.
What do you want the next chapter to be? What are you proud of? Take a minute to leave a comment to share your successes below. Your heart will be healthier for it!