Friday, January 05, 2007

Today's Ramble - 1/5/07

First, a delayed Happy New Year to my readers out there...

One of the cornerstones of happiness is good health. Everyone knows that good health is the result of a combination of genetics, eating right, exercising, and maintaining a manageable level of stress. At the present time, we cannot do much about our genetic makeup, other than taking certain medications (e.g. cholesterol lowering drugs). The remaining three are well within our power. Unfortunately, our turbo-driven consumer society makes it difficult for us to properly manage these three critical components of good health.

1) Eating right - did you know that Dr. Dean Ornish's heart healthy regimen is based on the subsistence diet of the peasants of China, Brazil, and Egypt? It turns out that the food items that are the most expensive often times turn out to be worst for us. Simple, locally grown, food is likely your best bet. Also, recent studies on caloric intake in rats strongly suggest that moderate, low calorie diets are best for improving energy and lifespan. Under our "more is better" banner, this seems counterintuitive.

2) Exercise takes time. We generally spend too much time working, commuting, and shopping. We must carve out time for exercise. An alternative is to exercise while working, commuting, and shopping. How about speed shopping (running from store to store)?

3) Stress not only negatively impacts our health (heart disease, ulcers, etc.), but it directly impacts our sense of well-being. It is the happiness double-whammy. There are many tips available, such as deep breathing, that can help take the edge off of our stress. For many, however, stress is a chronic condition. In those cases, significant lifestyle changes are necessary. Don't be afraid to change. You may find that you are much happier (and stress free) after you do.

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