Most people agree that health is the most important thing in life. Those who disagree generally put it in the top three things. So why would I question it?
Of course, there are plenty of people with long term illnesses and disabilities who manage to lead happy lives. How they do it could be the subject of another series of articles. Let’s suppose for a start that they concentrate on all the other things that make for happiness, some of which I have already written about. That does not disprove the statement that, overall, staying healthy helps you to be happy.
The trouble is that nowadays there is so much written and spoken about health, and there seems little consensus on what makes for a healthy lifestyle. So many diets and exercise regimes are recommended, only to be replaced by the next ‘breakthrough’ (or fad if you like).
- Worrying about your health can make you unhappy, even when you are well.
- Obsessing about your diet or exercise can lead to a lot of anxiety and keep you from enjoying the health you do have, even if it could be better.
The advice that makes sense, taken from a number of sources, is that to be happy you should take care of your health without making it a cause of anxiety. Here are a few simple tips that almost everyone seems to agree on.
- Avoid taking recreational drugs.
- Do take any medicines prescribed by your doctor.
- Don’t smoke.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Take regular exercise of some kind.
- Avoid faddy or extreme diets, unless advised by your doctor.
- Keep to a sensible weight: overeating is bad, regardless of the make-up of the diet.
- Get enough sleep, whether you are an early or late person.
In case you are in doubt, I am addressing people who are relatively well-off, by global standards. In some places, overeating is not an issue: starvation and malnutrition are. For many people, getting enough to eat would make them happy.
But for you and me, it’s about being sensible, so as to be healthy and be happy.