Health is Happiness

World Health Day [April 7] is an appropriate time for all of us to reinforce the importance of an integrated approach to wellbeing. Because, living a long, healthy, and happy life is what most of us hope to achieve, and derive delight from

Health is happinessPicture this. India crashes to its worst-ever defeat in its first match against minnows Bangladesh in World Cup Cricket 2007, and you have a whole nation in a state of shock. As frenzied fans ransack Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s under-construction home, you are witness to mob mentality gone askew. But, you never know – the jeering crowds of today may turn to be the cheering crowds of tomorrow, once the tide turns in Team India’s favour in the World Cup, and beyond.

You have also screaming headlines – all scoring mileage points, taking advantage of mayhem all around us, including Aishwarya Rai-Abhishek Bachchan’s impending marriage, and Liz-Hurley-Arun Nayar’s wedding extravaganza.

You give a good part of your “unavailable” time to skim through and/or debate on these events.

Look at the other side – the other side of the spectrum. Do you know that indoor pollution kills three people every minute? Or, harmonious relationships, or a belief in prayer, helps you live longer? Isn’t it more important for you to keep abreast of what affects you instead of “news” from the world of sports, politics, or entertainment?

Complete Wellbeing [CW] is about you and what matters to you.

A belief reinforced

World Health Organisation [WHO] defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

CW is based on the concept that an individual is not a sum of parts of an integrated whole. We define wellbeing as a condition of optimal physical, mental and spiritual health.

April 7 is observed as World Health Day [WHD], an initiative of WHO.

We felt that this is an opportune time to reinforce the importance of an integrated approach to wellbeing. Because, living a long, healthy, and happy life is what most of us hope to achieve. However, meeting these goals requires some determination on our part. We are often so busy, and we often forget to incorporate some basic steps necessary to health, happiness, and longevity into our daily lives.

The factors that influence wellbeing are interrelated. For example, a job provides not just money but purpose, goals, friendships and a sense of belonging. Some factors also make up for the lack of others; for example, a good marriage can compensate for a lack of friendships, while religious beliefs may help a person come to terms with physical illness.

We also know the impact that stress, depression, or euphoria can have on our bodies. Can profound physical problems really be related to the way we feel and think? Most of us have experienced the physical effects that depression, mental strain, or stress, can have on our bodies, or the excitement of a really good day that makes every ache or pain go away. We know that sleep can have an impact on our minds and emotions as well as our physical energy levels. In fact, our emotions are fundamentally connected with all aspects of health.

Research says it all

Research has shown that the mind has the ability to have a direct physiological effect on the body and vice versa. The most common stomach-ache and headache can be caused by virtually any kind of strain. Back pain has been attributed to a feeling of not being emotionally supported, or to feelings that you’ve lost the path, or aren’t fulfilling your purpose. Knee problems can be due to fear of “stepping forward” in your life. Asthma, especially in childhood, has been linked to a feeling of smothering, or too much control. Cancer is related to self-hatred, and fibromyalgia, and other degenerative diseases, to a deep feeling of unworthiness and abdication of the self. Thyroid has to do with voice, expressing yourself and feeling that you are heard.

As you already know, CW’s content agenda covers all aspects of wellbeing – how we look, what we eat, our lifestyle, our thoughts, and how we relate to ourselves, to others, and to God. Beauty, fitness, diet, alternative therapies, fulfilling relationships, rewarding careers, spiritual beliefs – all contribute to our wellbeing.

We invited some of our valued columnists — and Maitreyi, a yoga scholar and expert — to write on how the seven aspects of our life [Body & Beauty, Health & Healing, Food & Nutrition, Therapies, Mind & Emotions, Relationships, and Spirit & Soul, on which our content is based] contribute to a state of complete wellbeing – a state we advocate and celebrate with YOU in mind.


Putting Your Best Face Forward


Imagine going to a party where there are lots of friends, some people you are not so fond of, and some people you envy. Now, imagine that your clothes are old and have dirt stains, and your hair is grimy and uncombed. How would you feel?

Now, imagine the same party where you are at your glittering best. You are wearing the finest outfit, the most exquisite jewels and you have everyone looking at you. This would make you feel great. Right?

Working-out and eating right can do pretty much the same for your confidence.

While most people who exercise and follow a diet are aware of the health benefits of a fitness regimen, there is no denying the fact that a majority of us exercise and watch what we eat because it makes us look and feel good!

I have always believed that working-out and leading a healthy lifestyle can have far more long-lasting effects on the way you look and feel than anything else – be it clothes, make-up or accessories.

While designer wear and make-up can highlight your plus-points and make you feel good temporarily when you “dress up,” a good work-out can give you the “designer” body of your dreams and also make you feel good – no matter how you are dressed!

A well-shaped body, glowing skin and a positive outlook definitely make you more confident, appealing. Because, you will agree that when you feel good, you look good!


An Ounce of Prevention = A Pound of Cure

By SHANTALA Priyadarshini

Do you believe this is possible? Can diseases be really prevented? Here are some points to ponder over.

  • Stress can be tackled by waking up early. Regulating your circadian rhythm – or, bio-clock – helps prevent insomnia, constipation, and anxiety
  • Fear, anger, sorrow, lust, greed, jealousy are your enemies. Systematic yogic practices help replace them with positive thoughts
  • Natural hygiene is one proven way to prevent many diseases. Adopt measures to maintain physical, mental and spiritual cleanliness
  • Lifestyle-induced stresses, and diseases, can be tackled by earnest practice of meditation, yoga and perfectly-planned leadership qualities. This also helps keep infections at bay
  • Snacking, excessive spicy food, preserved food, high-calorie foods are best substituted by natural foods
  • “Think straight and eat right.” Follow your biological signals
  • Life is too precious to be depressed. Depression decreases your immune responses and results in diseases. Be cheerful.
  • You are unique. Remember the story of “Ugly Duckling?”
  • Avoid unnecessary medication, especially self-medication
  • Consuming drugs, alcohol, smoking, and caffeine are not helpful in preventing early onset of hereditary diseases
  • Management of diabetes, and blood pressure, is essential to prevent complications and preserve health
  • Junk-food, perverted sexual practices, physical and mental exertions hasten aging, while adopting ayurvedic regimens help preserve youth
  • Sleep hygiene is achieved by physical exercises, nutritious, light food. Quality sleep is essential to keep one refreshed and restored
  • Common ailments should be prevented by holistic diet, and lifestyle modifications – and, repeated courses of antibiotics should be avoided.


We’re Truly What We Eat


According to ancient Indian sciences, food is not classified as proteins and carbohydrates or high-calorie and low-calorie. It’s classified on the basis of its effects on the mind and body. This is called sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Sattvic is the highest grade, and tamasic the lowest grade. Tamas, or the energy produced by tamasic food, is considered anti-energy – one that saps life.

The Bhagavad Gita prescribes a sattvic diet to promote healthy body, alert mind, complete wellbeing, longevity, intellectual vigour, mind/body equanimity and happiness. Such food is said to be wholly nutritious, and the best choice for a person wishing to be blessed with optimal wellbeing. Examples of sattvic food are fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and milk-products, rice, and wholesome grains, cereals etc., Generally speaking, vegetarian food tends to be sattvic in nature.

While it is difficult to adhere completely to the principles prescribed by our highly enlightened ancestors, it is not difficult to follow the basic principles of making fresh fruits and vegetables a major part of our daily diet. I’ve tried to incorporate this into my life by eating more raw foods, less of lightly-cooked and very little of processed or over-cooked foods. This is quite easy to follow and actually more time-saving for our hectic lifestyles.

I have noticed changes in my own energy levels when I made raw fruits and vegetables an integral part of my diet. It has a superbly positive effect on the exterior as well as the interior. Besides, looking-good-to-feeling-good is an automatic chain reaction.

I believe that we are truly what we eat – both in the body and in the mind.


Be Kind to Yourself


I went to meet an old lady who stays alone next door as I sometimes do in the mornings. “You don’t look too well, aunty,” I told her. “I’m sick; I had a really bad night,” she said. “The horrid cockroaches and mosquitoes were bothering me and I wanted to teach them a lesson. So, I sprayed the repellent. That damn chemical gave me a headache. I had some coffee for the headache. After coffee, I could not sleep. The whole night, I had headache. I was sleepless and now am feeling nauseous and sick.”

I asked her to have lots of water and buttermilk, and get some rest.

One can see that agitation leads to violence. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali [Sec: 1, v: 2], it is stated, Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhaha. This means that yoga is the cessation or restraint of the aberrations of the sub-conscious mind. Chitta is the sub-conscious mind — the sum total of our impressions, or memories. Through yogic practices one learns to observe and modify any sub-conscious negative conditioning or habit. The more agitated and stressed we are, the more things go wrong. This stress catapults to a break-down or catastrophe.

In the Yoga Sutras [Sec: 2, v: 35], it is said that “On being firmly established in non-violence, there will be no hostility in his/her presence.”

A student once asked while being bothered by mosquitoes, “Does this mean you never swat a mosquito.”

“Of course not,” I replied. I pray that the mosquito has a better next life and pat her lovingly to her transition.


Dare to Care

By MINNU Bhonsle

Statistics show that the rate of psychological disturbances leading to suicide, homicide, marital breakdown, alcoholism, drug abuse etc., are increasing at an alarming rate, all over the world. It would seem, that, as our material comforts of life are increasing due to scientific explosion, our mental health is deteriorating.

Mental health is achieved when man is completely psychologically mature or self-actualised, and psychological disturbances are nothing but a failure of such development. According to the National Mental Health Programme, about 20-30 million Indians are in need of some form of mental healthcare. With timely intervention and proper care, at least 60 per cent of these disturbed people can recover completely, and, at least, 70 per cent can avoid chronic illness and disability.

The World Health Organisation [WHO] has declared that the emotional health of humanity is declining, and that cases of depression, nervous anxiety and psychosomatic disorders, are on the rise, and that family doctors should look for signs in a patient, which would point to the need for counselling.

In a society where going to the gym for physical fitness training and work-outs is considered as the “in-thing” to do, it is sad to see that mental and emotional fitness and training are not accorded the same status. This is wrong. We need to change the tide.

This is not all. There is an invisible stigma attached to counselling. General practitioners hesitate to refer cases for personal counselling fearing that their patients may take offence. Denial of the need for therapy only compounds the problem, for, if there is anything worse than having a problem, it is denying that you have one. Timely intervention through counselling can avert many a disaster. Besides the removal of the stigma of counselling and correct referrals by family, friends and family doctors, what is required is creating an awareness of the need of counselling, and the availability of such help. Those who need counselling should not only be encouraged to reach out for help, but should also be applauded for the decision of taking active steps for bettering their life.

A large number of people can also be helped merely by listening empathically and actively – establishing a caring human interaction which makes the disturbed individual open to explore, understand, and change, something in himself/herself to solve his/her problem.

This is an urgent need – to rescue toxic and failing relationships; relationship with oneself; relationships within families, between neighbours, between communities, and even between countries — before we self-destruct ourselves.


Why Love is Good for You


Healthy relationships are important for our wellbeing. They are fun and make you feel good about yourself. You can have a healthy relationship with anyone in your life – family, friends and the people you date. Relationships take time, energy, and care to make them healthy. The relationships that you have as a teen will be a special part of your life and teach you important lessons about who you are.

The benefits of a healthy marriage have been carefully studied for decades. Statistically, people who are happily married live longer than their single counterparts. They have lower rates of heart attack, cancer and other diseases and develop tighter networks of emotional support.

Building relationships with others is important to our health. Who are the important people in your life? Who makes you feel better about yourself? It is clear that healthy supportive relationships contribute significantly to our sense of wellbeing. Healthy relationships are characterised by respect, sharing and trust. They are based on the belief that both partners are equal and that the power and control in the relationship are equally shared.

We all have relationships with many people in our lives and all of these relationships are different. Whether it is with friends, family, partners, acquaintances, or anyone else, it is important to know how to have healthy relationships with the people in our lives. Healthy relationships increase our self-esteem, improve mental and emotional health, and help us have fuller, longer and healthier lives.


Spirituality is the Essence

By AMRIT Sadhana

Spirituality is the very foundation of human life; any life for that matter. Spirituality is not a profession, or moral practice, it is the stuff we are made of. Leading a spiritual life means understanding that life is not matter; it is energy. Spirituality cannot be practiced; it has to be lived. It is like love. Can you practice love? Either you are in love, or you are not.

Spiritual life is actually a longing to know oneself. The worldly life is lived on the periphery; hence, the focus is on the outside: money, prestige, position, and respectability. Unless one gets all this, one is not satisfied. The same focus when turned inwards finds that fulfilment is inside. Unless we know who we are and what are we living for, outer pursuits are like chasing a mirage.

Spirituality means becoming more and more conscious of what you think, what you feel and what you do. It is an endless process of polishing a mirror. It has to be done incessantly because the mirror gathers dust every moment.

When your being shines like a mirror, it reflects the world as it is. There are no projections of the mind.

Spirituality is living consciously. Consciousness brings clarity and endless, or unnamed, bliss in the hub of all activity. This focal point, or centre of activity, is the key to life and death. It does not require faith. Faith is a mental belief.

Spirituality is more like trust – the foundation on which the edifice of life is built.

– With additional inputs from Rajgopal Nidamboor

Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


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