My name is Dr. Vicki Smithers. I am a family physician in Rockwall, TX. I have been in practice there for 15 years. I am a Christian medical speaker and I speak across the state about stress management and other health and wellness topics. Today I would like to talk about about how mindfulness based stress reduction can eliminate stress while increasing happiness.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Techniques
As a family physician I continually talk to patients about how to eliminate stress for healthy living. To help patients achieve this goal I have put together a workshop that is called Rock Solid. It teaches some simple steps that we can all take to decrease stress in our everyday lives. While developing this workshop I did a huge amount of research on what makes people happy. It is the conclusions from that happiness research I would like to share with you all today. I found it fascinating.
How to be Happy in Life
Research has shown that 50% of our happiness is inherited, 10% is circumstances and the other 40% is influenced by people, activities and how you see the world. The happiest people are not the wealthiest nor the youngest. Lottery winners report being no better off 1 year after their winning. A 76 yearlong Harvard study on happiness showed that income over $75,000 did not make you any happier and that people over 70 were happier than those at 18 years of age. The key to happiness was close relationships, caring about other people. Other critical factors that lead to happiness are:
- Positive thinking- being grateful, optimistic, practicing acts of kindness, and using your strengths.
- Enjoying culture- ethnic foods, plays and art
- Going to church
- Having pets
- Having sex regularly
- Not thinking too hard about being happy
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Techniques
There is a relatively new field of psychology called Positive Psychology. In 1979, John Kabat-Zinn PhD started using mindfulness based stress reduction techniques to teach patients with major medical problems to live healthier and happier lives. The basis of the program is mindfulness meditation taught to patients to help them deal with illness, stress and pain. This type of meditation allows you to carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. You learn to live in the moment and experience your current situation, instead of focusing on the past or worrying about the future. It empowers the individual to respond consciously rather than react automatically. It starts with a daily 20 minute meditation and then it is carried into other daily activities. Mindfulness based stress reduction reduced anxiety, depression and pain scales and lowered other medical symptoms. Many later studies have duplicated Zinn’s original findings.
Happy, Healthy, Stress Free Life by Practicing Mindfulness
One of the current researchers on the topic of happiness, Martin Seligman, has found that the most satisfied, upbeat people have discovered and exploited their unique combination of “signature strengths”. Seligman concludes that happiness has 3 dimensions:
1st– Pleasant Life – we learn to appreciate basic pleasures like companionship, nature, and meet basic needs.
2nd– Good Life- discovering our unique virtues and strengths end employing them creatively to enhance our lives and obtain gratification
3rd – Meaningful Life- fulfillment found when we use our strengths for a greater purpose and invest in creative work (acts of altruism and kindness)
Happiness is in the Simple Life
- Search for your strengths.
- Pray for guidance.
- Then take a chance and look for ways to find your unique purpose.
Often this is by helping others:
- Community service- clothing drives, feeding the poor
- Helping neighbors-disaster relief, bringing food to sick neighbor
- Service organization- Lions Club, CASA
- Mission trips- local and abroad
Some Every Day Mindfulness Exercises to Lower Stress and Improve your Mood
- Deep breathing
- Listening to Music
Start by quieting your mind, slow your breathing and focus on breathing in through nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the right now- your thoughts and feelings and sensations. If other thoughts come into your head recognize them but don’t react and gently bring your attention back to the current moment. You can train yourself to be mindful doing any activity- it allows peace and releases stress.
Health and Happiness!
See a family doctor near you if you have any symptoms of stress related illness.
-Dr. Victoria Smithers, family physician, is an inspirational speaker and blogger on stress management and many wellness topics. She is booking now for medical and Christian conferences, keynotes, retreats, and workshops. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to check availability and to get a price quote for your next meeting.