Happiness = Healthy Body + Healthy Mind

by Dr. Dan Baker of the Canyon Ranch — See link below to purchase.

And this post is all about the “mind” part of the equation — Get ready to take charge of your happiness.

While visiting in Florida last week, my girlfriend Ruth shared a book with me that I read while I was there: What Happy People Know, How the new science of happiness can change your life for the better; by Dan Baker, PhD, Director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch. The book leads off with a quote by Aristotle from the Nicomachean Ethics:

Happiness is the whole aim and end of human existence — Aristotle

In a nutshell, it all boils down to fear and love — and, conveniently, both of them cannot happen at the same time. Fortunately for us, love is stronger and can squeeze out the fear factor anytime we choose.

Whereas our book describes how one can easily take charge of their own physical health, this powerful book outlines how many of us can take charge of our happiness. And like our book, his simple and effective concepts are not widely embraced by the mainstream psychological community — YET. Just like in the medical field, there’s not much money to be made in people becoming healthy.

Also like our 4Leaf approach of focusing on the positive, Dr. Baker pretty much ignores the horrid memories of your past and delves right into building on the positive things in your life — the people and things that you love. I just ordered three copies this morning (will make a good companion gift with our book); there is a link for you to do the same at the end of this post.

On page 37, Dr. Baker outlines the six “happiness tools,” as he calls them; techniques for working on being happy. As he says, becoming happy, like becoming fit can be a lot of work. If you want to be happy, you have to work at it. As I read through the book, I thought about how I had employed some of his techniques in the past without really knowing what they were.

While reading, I recalled an article that I had written in 2002 for my executive search website. It was inspired by the fact that the majority of working people in America are classified as “misemployed,” meaning that they’re not really suited for their current method of making a living.

It turns out that most of these “misemployed” people are either overqualified, under-qualified or simply not happy with their employment situation. So, I wrote an article for those people: Get A Life — Then, Get A Job; My Seven Secrets. Here are those seven secrets that I just reviewed today for the first time in years — and they actually fit nicely with the principles outlined in Dr. Baker’s book:

  1. Lead a simple, uncluttered life.
  2. Get real serious about getting healthy and fit.
  3. Purge yourself of any relationships that don’t bring you joy.
  4. Follow your passion and find a way to make a living doing what you love.
  5. Learn to live on far less than you can earn and achieve financial freedom as early in life as possible.
  6. Get involved with some serious fun; things that bring you joy and satisfaction.
  7. Sort out your feelings about faith, hope and the things that motivate you to be all that you can be.  This is a very important piece; assessing your major definite purpose in life.

This place will always hold a special place in my heart; I still cherish the Cross pen with the Rambling Wreck logo that they gave me that Tuesday evening in November of 2002 following my speech.

Origins of my interest in nutrition. Shortly after writing that article, I was asked to speak at the Georgia Tech Alumni Association to a group of unemployed Tech graduates. So I chose my “Get A Life” article as the topic for my speech that November evening to a group of about a hundred out-of-work Yellow Jackets. To my great surprise and delight, the response both during and after my speech was overwhelming. I must’ve received fifty thank-you emails the next day. That got me to thinking.

Sensing that there was an opportunity to help millions of people get a life, we decided in that tough business environment of the post 9-11 era, that we would develop a one-day “Get A Life” seminar that we could sell for $199 and throw in a free lunch. But first, we needed to learn enough about those seven secrets to be able to conduct a first-class seminar.

We divvied up the list of seven topics among our firm’s partners — I ended up with #2 (health) from the above list — and the rest is history. The “Get A Life” seminar never happened, but my preparation for it changed my life forever as I proved what Dr. Baker says in his book and what Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement speech, “You have to find what you love.” See #4 in my list of seven secrets and review the Steve Jobs speech at the link below.

My three-legged stool of health: Diet, Exercise and Mental Attitude

On a related topic, within a few of my blogs, I have spoken about my “three-legged stool” of health.

  • Healthy Diet
  • Physical Exercise
  • Mental & Spiritual

I place all of Dr. Baker’s twelve qualities of happiness in that third bucket. They are: love, optimism, courage, a sense of freedom, proactivity, security, health, spirituality, altruism, perspective, humor and purpose.

In keeping with our 4Leaf theme throughout our book and this site, I recently modified the above list for our 4Leaf page to feature the “four leaves of health.”

  • Leaf #1 — Diet (Eating at the 4Leaf level every day)
  • Leaf #2 — Exercise (Preferably outside doing something you love every day)
  • Leaf #3 — Rest (Give your body the 7 or 8 hours sleep that it needs)
  • Leaf #4 — Purpose (Find the passion in your life)

One final point. As Dr. Baker said in his book, none of us are going to get out of here alive and many of us fear death more than others partly because we don’t feel that we’ve accomplished very much in our lives. I have felt that way in the past, but now that I have found my passion and have begun working more on that third bucket, that fear has subsided.

Just last week, I was thinking of the comfort of having a published book that helps people take charge of their health — and may help to save the planet in the process. It is comforting to know that my work can now live forever and will hopefully be embraced by all future generations of my own family. It’s always a warm feeling when I think about my legacy, and it’s that feeling that combats whatever fear might be trying to invade my thoughts at any particular time.

Stay tuned for more on this “happiness” (mental health) topic after I receive my copy of Dr. Baker’s book, But for now, here a few earlier posts that are related:

J. Morris Hicks, author and activist. Working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page.

And if you like what 4-Leaf eating is doing for you and your family, you might enjoy visiting our new “4Leaf Gear” store. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com

SHARE and rate this post below…One more thing, occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard.

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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1 Response to Happiness = Healthy Body + Healthy Mind

  1. Jim — I’ll put my Healthy Eating – Healthy World Christmas Gift near the top of my Public folder list of contents.Here is what I sent to my network, with the attachment that I’ll give access to at

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