Dr. Bernie Siegel's Happiness Boosters
Bernie S. Siegel, MD
Exceptional Cancer Patients
n everyday life, it's easy to lose touch with your soul. I define "soul" as the authentic self that lies deep within you.
Your soul needs regular attention because it enables you to live with enthusiasm, vigor and joy. It also increases your ability to overcome difficulties that you encounter in your life. Here's how to strengthen your soul...
Access your creative side. Take up painting, writing, sculpting or other creative endeavors. Expressing your creativity distracts you from emotional and physical pain. It also helps bring to the surface what is trapped within you so that you are able to heal emotionally and physically.
Example: More than 25 years ago, when I painted a self-portrait, I painted my face with a surgical mask. That helped me to realize that I was covering up my emotions even in the painting. Doctors aren't trained to deal with loss and pain -- so we bury it. I knew I needed to uncover my feelings and express them.
Define your fears. By specifically defining your fears, you can come up with solutions so you don't feel so powerless and frightened by them.
Example: If you're afraid of losing your job, dig deeper to find what that really means. Perhaps you're afraid that you'll end up homeless. If so, you can take steps to secure your home, such as setting aside enough savings to cover your mortgage for a year.
Get rid of the clutter in your life. Release some of the negativity of the past, and make room for emotional growth by periodically cleaning your environment and letting go of belongings.
Get regular massages. Being touched is therapeutic for your body and soul because it releases muscle tension, enhances the immune system and suppresses pain. Find a massage therapist, or exchange massages with your partner. Touch can be a tool to enhance your relationship.
Focus on the joyful. All too often, we remember painful experiences -- the annoying client, the traffic jam -- rather than the happy moments. Carry a small journal to record happy moments in your life. Share funny stories at dinner. Watch funny movies and listen to comedy CDs while driving. My favorite is Mel Brooks's 2000 Year Old Man.
Carry your baby picture in your wallet. Most likely, it will elicit feelings of joy when you look at it. Remind yourself that even though you're all grown up, there's still a happy, lovable child inside.
Find your chocolate -- and eat it, too. Chocolate, particularly the dark variety, stimulates the release of natural endorphins that boost mood. If you don't like chocolate, find "your chocolate" -- whatever makes you feel good when you're feeling low. It could be music, gardening, reading or talking with a loved one.
KAY'S NOTE: Sorry, 'chocolate' is now SCD legal :-(((