It seems like a no-brainer that we should allow ourselves to be happy and create more joy in our lives, but it’s not that simple. Some of us still believe we don’t deserve to be happy. Or when we do allow happiness in, we worry that it won’t last. Or we spend time thinking about all the things that could go wrong.
Why do we do that? Part of it is our culture and the way we were raised. Well-meaning parents, teachers, and coaches sometimes try to manage children’s expectations so they’re not disappointed. We’re often taught that if we allow ourselves to be too happy, we’ll end up suffering in the end. Well-intentioned or not, these messages often cause us to unintentionally block or sabotage our own happiness. We may also have self-doubts or insecurities about our own worth. Do we even deserve to be happy?
Happiness and joy can seem like luxuries in our culture – something we have to “earn” or “wait for.” But that simply isn’t true. If you are waiting until . . . you finish school, you lose weight, you earn more money, or whatever to be happy, you’re missing out on the true joy of life.
Joy is Not a Luxury, It’s a Necessity
Joy is not a luxury, it’s truly a necessity for our lives and our health. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, a board-certified OB/GYN and a pioneer in women’s health, our bodies simply function better when we’re happy. Consider the positive health effects of joy.
- Joy optimizes our:
- Hormone balance,
- Flexibility, and
- Bone density.
- It lowers blood pressure,
- Enhances immunity,
- Protects us from heart disease and dementia,
- Increases circulation (because of the increase in nitric oxide it creates), and
- Boosts the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain (beta-endorphins and prolactin). (1)
In fact, we can actually create an environment for disease and disharmony by not allowing joy and happiness into our lives. In some cases, blocking happiness also causes people to look for relief in unhealthy places, such as binge drinking or overeating.
From my own experience, I’ve noticed that when I feel happy and peaceful, I have fewer asthma attacks (one of my health struggles), and I am less likely to “stress eat.” Plus, being happy just feels good. And it’s contagious! If you allow yourself to be happy, you make it more likely for the people around you to be happy. Have you ever noticed how the simple act of smiling causes others to smile too? Try it as you go through your day, practice consciously focusing on smiling and having a smile when you communicate with others. They will be happier and more pleasant to you, which in turn, will increase your own happiness. Win-win!
Creating more joy in the world and helping others increase their own happiness is what prompted me to write Design Your Dream Life: See It, Plan It, Live It.
Do you allow joy into your own life? What is one way you can begin to increase your own happiness today? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear from YOU!
Photo by (1) Source: Rx for Joy, an interview with Christiane Northrup, MD, Unity Magazine, January 2014