I read a really interesting article yesterday about a gene expression study that indicated how happiness affects our cellular biology in a positive way. Basically happiness reduces the cellular expression of chronic stress. However what’s more remarkable about this study is that it showed the difference between two different types of happiness. In fact ‘hedonistic’ happiness, which is experienced as a result of pleasure or self -gratification is actually associated with a worsening of this kind of gene expression. Only the kind of happiness that results from striving towards meaning and a noble purpose is associated with a healthier cellular biology!
Always willing to look of the bright side, I see this as a great opportunity for us to improve our health. Just by focusing on meaningful happiness we can give our bodies a helping hand towards healing. I strongly believe that our bodies are doing everything that they can to help us fight ill health and that if we give our healing resources enough help one day they just might get in control and win the battle. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to me when I recovered the first time round!
So meaningful happiness can help our bodies fight the effects of chronic stress! What a great indication of the body mind connection!
For some of you though, this study might seem a little depressing. You might feel as though your illness has robbed you of the ability to pursue meaningful happiness: that you no longer have the physical ability to make a contribution and feel productive.
However I believe that this kind of happiness doesn’t have to involve a great deal of physical or mental energy. Simply paying attention to being loving and caring, without even having to actively express it, can bring some of this kind of satisfaction. Take a look at these articles about nurturing and the loving kindness meditation. I also believe one of the ways to achieve this kind of happiness is to cultivate a connection with our true inner nature. Often being too unwell to work means that we have more time to learn to just ‘be’ instead of ‘doing’ all the time. And it’s when we are simply being ourselves that we are contributing in the most profound way.
I also believe that there are many ways of expressing our unique gifts and talents which don’t all rely on physical ability. By taking time to explore who you are you might be surprised to find some form of meaningful self-expression that helps you feel connected that’s still available to you, despite your limited energy. Maybe something you used to enjoy that got eclipsed by something more dominant, or maybe even an aspect of yourself that you haven’t yet discovered. Rather than focusing on what you can no longer do, be adventurous and take a gentle journey of discovery. Exploring your creativity is a great place to start.
Purposeful activities don’t have to be widely recognised to be worthwhile. We can get a sense of noble purpose even if we bring pleasure, relief or comfort to just one other being. Contributions don’t have to be big to be rewarding enough to affect our health! All we need to do is value them. In fact, you don’t even have to make a contribution at all as long as your happiness relates to a sense of meaningful connection to something bigger, like the happiness involved in appreciating the awesomeness of the natural world, or the wonder you experience listening to a piece of music that truly touches your soul.
Remember that there is purpose in seeking this kind of happiness! If it helps you heal you’ll improve your ability to contribute in the long run! Your meaningful happiness can only benefit everyone else!
I find purpose in my life coaching work and in writing my blog, in cooking creative meals and in my meditation practices which involve sending love and kindness to others. I also find satisfaction in my experiences of connection with something greater when I am able to be present in the moment and appreciative of nature.
I’d love it if you could share in the comments how you find meaningful/purposeful happiness in low energy ways, to help inspire others who haven’t yet found their way!
Another small request, I really appreciate it if you could rate this article using the stars below the related posts.