Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On TV, happiness, good health and gratitude

On TV, happiness, good health and gratitude

Current mood: cheerful

Wow, so I was stuck at the studio for awhile last night (my car is in the shop for routine stuff) and to kill time I was watching TV. I don't ever watch TV (we do not get any channels at all at the house) and I am pretty amazed. What an incredible, colossal waste of time! It was mildly interesting at times, but that wasn't enough to make up for the bland worthlessness, the blatant manipulation and absolute banality of the programming. It was almost like I could feel my brain cells begin to liquefy. I swear I do not remember TV being this bad- either it is worse than it was when I was in high school, or else my absence from the medium has given me an objectivity that I lacked before. I seem to remember the "educational" channels having some good stuff to show. . . but anything that caught my fancy last night turned out to be stretched, edited and beaten into submission so much that it lost what value it's premise held. Man, do they ever know how to beat a dead horse. My resolve to never get TV here at the house has been reenergized.

OK- that said, I did actually come away with a couple thoughts and ideas to ponder. Mostly they are recipe ideas from the food network (mmm, a pinot noir reduction as a glaze for turkey. . .), but there was also one program that discussed "Happiness and Your Health". (The long program could have been condensed into 5 minutes and still easily made it's point, but I digress). It talked about various studies that show that laughing a lot, being upbeat and happy, loving people and having gratitude will all improve your health in concrete ways. Furthermore, if you do not naturally feel happy, you can fake it and still reap many of the health rewards.

There are clubs around the world called "laughter clubs", whose members aim to laugh every day, for many minutes a day. (I remember someone saying 30 minutes a day is a good goal). If they don't feel like laughing, they fake it and laugh anyway- and lo and behold, their mood improves. Over time laughter can improve your mood, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and impart an overall feeling of well-being. (So can meditation, even for beginners).

Caring deeply for others improves your health. Positive people enjoy better health than negative people do. An ability to communicate well with others leads to a better sense of well-being and a more positive outlook. And cultivating a sense of gratitude for the good things in your life can actually have many concrete health benefits.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving: silly perhaps to have a holiday to remind us to be grateful for our blessings, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded of something we need to be doing every day. I love Thanksgiving, not least because I enjoy the food preparation, traditions and the shared meal. But it is also a holiday that is not so commercialized; a holiday whose original meaning is not obfuscated by layers and layers of ancilliary trappings. (Which might only be because it is such a young holiday, but the why of this point isn't really my concern here). It is a great opportunity to practice concious gratitude, and hopefully it can be a jumping-off place for us to remember to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

Be thankful- it's good for you!

No comments: