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Happiness and Health

What do health and happiness have in common? If you asked me this question prior to July 5th my answer would have been everything. Today my answer is a bit different. July 5th, 2016 my world changed drastically as my two daughters Elliott and Luca were born at 31 weeks, much sooner than my wife, Jina, and I would have preferred, but sometimes the universe has other plans for you other than your own. July was a roller coaster of emotions for me. Staring through a clear box at your tiny daughters hooked up to a plethora of tubes and wires is no easy feat, but everyday brought a few more grams of weight, fewer tubes and wires and new hope for a brighter future. For those of you who have spent any time in the NICU, you know life is measured in grams and milliliters. And by the way, if any of you have lost faith in our health care system, I beg you to spend some time in the NICU. It is an amazing place, full of the most caring doctors and nurses I have ever seen, and the technological advancements are truly a marvel.

So why is my answer different today then before July 5th? Well, simply put; I haven’t been eating as well as before, in fact most of my meals have been either standing or consumed within 5 minutes, my workout routine now mostly consists of diaper changes and cuddling with people under 5 pounds, I haven’t slept a full 8 hours in over a month and by most standards (especially health assessments) I was on my way out, but yet my heart is the happiest and fullest it has ever been. How do I reconcile what I know, with what I know now? My life has taken on a new meaning, a new purpose. All the sleepless nights and quick “meals” seem more like a gift than a burden and a small price to pay to ensure the Little Ladies are happy and healthy. We wake up every day with endless choices to make: what to eat, how to move, what to wear, how to do our hair, but the most important decision we have to make every day is how we want to “be”. What lens do we want to wear and how do we ultimately want to perceive the world and its happenings? It is our choice and, in a sense, a gift we get every day.

“We wake up every day with endless choices to make: what to eat, how to move, what to wear, how to do our hair, but the most important decision we have to make every day is how we want to ‘be.'”

We as health promotion professionals have a big job. We have to help people find the reason to be happy and ultimately healthy. The doctors and nurses in the NICU didn’t just help Elliott and Luca heal, they gave me hope and helped me heal. In much the same manner, we must attempt to give all those we serve hope—hope that they can achieve their wellness goals, hope they can connect with their sense of purpose and meaning, hope that they will thrive and discover happiness and meaning in their work. As health promotion professionals I believe our job is to bring hope and ultimately happiness to all those we serve.

I know I will start eating well again and my workouts will resume: what’s changed is my purpose for doing so. I now have an obligation to not only set an example, but I want to run along side them, hike up the highest peaks with them and one day hold their children in my arms.

This is Happiness Month at WELCOA. Check out some great member resources we have to incorporate the tenants of positive psychology and purpose.

Ryan Picarella, President

More about Positive Psychology and Happiness

Free Resources

Focus On the Positive: Interview with MJ Shaar
A Conversation on “Purpose”: Interview with Dr. Vic Strecher

Member Resources

Training Course: Achieving Purposeful Health Promotion
Training Course: A New Direction for Full Engagement in Life and Health
Certification Course: Mind over Matter- Applying Positive Psychology to Improve Health

Resources for Your Employees

On the Move Monthly Platform:Connect employees with resources to thrive in work and life.