As I approach the end of my seventh decade on this planet in a few years, I am gaining a better overall perspective on health, longevity, quality of life, being happy and the absence of depression. And the older I get, the more important I consider my “fourth leaf” of health—the positive mental attitude.
Just in the past few weeks, I have been noticing some of my friends who seem to be the happiest. And while most of them continue to eat the toxic western diet and exercise very little—they’ve got something that others lack. They look forward to getting up in the morning, they have a major purpose in their life and they always exude energy and enthusiasm.
Now, I am not suggesting that you chuck the healthy diet and routine exercise and start listening to motivational tapes all the time. But I am suggesting that the mental aspect of vibrant health doesn’t always get the credit it deserves.
As for our 4Leaf Program, the dietary part is well-docmented on this site. The other “three leaves” of health are exercise, rest and mental attitude—none of which have received a great deal of attention in my blogs. See a few links below to some of those blogs.
Loneliness in the news. Recently, I noticed a piece of news on CNN—it was all about loneliness, depression and the corresponding increase in the risk of heart disease. (See link to 6-18-12 article below) It began:
Loneliness and isolation can affect your quality of life — and maybe your quantity of life, too. According to a pair of studies published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine, living alone — or even just feeling lonely — may increase a person’s risk of premature death.
One study followed nearly 45,000 people ages 45 and up who had heart disease or a high risk of developing the condition. Those who lived alone, the study found, were more likely to die from heart attacks, strokes, or other heart complications over a four-year period than people living with family or friends, or in some other communal arrangement.
Why is living alone potentially harmful? Especially among the middle-aged, a demographic in which living with a spouse or partner is the norm, living alone may be a sign of social or psychological problems, such as relationship trouble, a weak support system, job stress, or depression– all of which have been linked to heart disease.
The article goes on to discuss the topic of “loneliness” in great detail and how it can negatively impact one’s life. In my case, the fact that I live alone (Since 1998) hasn’t made me feel lonely. Maybe it’s because I have an abundant local network of friends and family coupled with an international network of thousands with whom I communicate regularly.
My purpose in this blog is not to pretend to be any sort of expert on this topic, but rather to share my own personal experience on the crucial importance of always remembering the mental side of things when we talk about vibrant health. Having experienced bouts of acute depression a few times in my life, I have a personal knowledge of what it feels like. It sucks.
Maybe that’s why I appreciated what my son went through a few years back and shared in his joy when he was eventually able to “just say no” to medications of all kinds, including anti-depressants. And I think that his diet and exercise regimen had something to do with that.
The Bottom Line. My definition of vibrant health includes the collective positive benefits of healthy eating, adequate rest (7 to 9 hours of sleep), routine exercise and a positive mental attitude. My feeling is that you need all four to enjoy the highest levels of health and that the “total can be greater than the sum of the parts.” Scroll down for my “happiness photo of the week…
“Living alone is kind of like sailing alone; it’s not necessarily my preference, but it ain’t all bad”
- The 6-18-12 CNN article: Lonely? Your health may suffer
- New York Times article (same topic) The High Price of Loneliness
- Vibrant health blog: Feeling good & being happy—not a bad combination
- Blog about happiness: Happiness = Healthy Body + Healthy Mind
- An earlier blog: Longevity, happiness and my “three-legged stool” of HEALTH
- My favorite happiness book: “What Happy People Know” by Dr. Dan Baker
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation