To health and happiness

Posted by Dr. Robert Kelly


a big cholesterol filled fry
Image credit: Gabriela Sakamoto | Flickr


Happiness is what we all want in life. Staying in good health will help you to be more happy and help you to have a more fulfilling life. Staying healthy allows you to do more, enjoy more of life, worry less and live longer. In situations of illness, being strong and resilient will help you to become happier and to deal more effectively with these situations.

I meet many people who are unhappy and this often triggers ill health. Stress at work, with money and bills; and at home can lead to symptoms and to unhealthy decisions such as smoking, overeating, alcohol excess and not exercising. Sitting around is the new smoking.

So trying to be more positive, achieving more meaning and resilience in life, talking with family and friends about problems and dealing with them early on will often help to avoid unhealthy behaviour responses  and will also make you happier. I do believe that there is always a solution to every problem, it just depends on how you approach the problem.

I travelled to a healthcare meeting in Dubai last week and learned about how this city has come up with a Happiness index for its people. The government want citizens and visitors to enjoy happiness and wellbeing and are trying to identify innovative ways to deliver that. Primarily they are investing in city of Dubai as a happy city where everyone can have anything they want. In the local shopping mall you can go ice-skating; visit an aquarium, sit in an A380 double decker plane cockpit or just eat &shop….not sure if that makes most people happy!

On the health side, I was recently drawn to a book written by my friend and colleague Dr Mark Rowe “A prescription for happiness“. Mark highlights how exercise, psychology, relationships and emotions define our health and our ability to deal with adversity in life.

He makes a useful suggestion to keep a personal diary and to write down 3 things a few days each week that make you happy and then using that information to build on your health and wellbeing, for example your eating habits, your family relationships; then reflecting on this and setting goals that help you to become more happy and healthier.

It is up to all of us to make a decision as to what really matters in life? I propose that a more positive attitude to life is healthier; is a good way to help all of us deal with adversity that life throws at us and gives us the strength and resilience to fight that adversity.

As a cardiologist I spend a lot of time with people helping them to overcome their diagnosis, educating them about the condition and helping them to find ways to live with diagnosis, to prevent adverse events like heart attacks and strokes and sudden premature death and to ultimately be able to live life like everyone else. I also see many people who worry about heart disease because of their smoking, weight, family history, stress, stories about friends and loved-ones: in most cases these people can be reassured and coached to take more healthy, positive approaches to life that make them happier and give them greater quality and length of life.