Well-being is a process. . .

Recent blogs from here have focused on specific clinical topics such as blood pressure, joint replacement, cancer, and the importance of improving balance. This message is somewhat more abstract, less specific, but it does impact all other topics.

A person can learn to be well.  As we age, it becomes more important to focus on prevention of disease, thus the subject of well-being is of interest.

There are four traits of well-being identified by researchers at the University of Wisconsin's Center for Healthy Minds. These traits include resilience, positive outlook, focus, and generosity. This research is not only conducted on elderly persons, but people of all ages benefit from practicing these skills over time.

Resilience is rapid recovery from adversity. If being stuck in slow traffic ruins the remainder of your day, there's something to be learned from practicing resilience.  One means of improving resilience is regular, daily meditation. In addition, having a firm sense of purpose can help recover rapidly from stressors, and understand what's simply a part of daily life, i.e. slow traffic. Strengthening one's resilience improves the brain's capacity to maintain perspective.

Developing a positive outlook can be as simple as slowing down and savoring positive experiences. That doesn't mean that we deny difficulties in life, but rather we can learn to trust the fundamental goodness of others. To be sure, we are never on our best behavior at all times; we mess up. But consider the perspective of another, practice compassion, 

Many of us are so distracted by demands of daily life, that we have difficulty maintaining focus on any task at hand. Practicing paying attention to one thing at a time can train the brain to stay focused. This improved mindfulness enhances productivity and happiness, and it does take practice. Here is the recommendation again for meditation. Some minutes each day of slow, intentional breathing is a good place to begin.  Meditation becomes a habit and increases our well-being in the present moment.

Generosity is much more than material giving, although material giving contributes to the well-being of self and others.  There is the generosity of spirit that makes it easier for us to forgive one who has wronged us. "Cut a little slack" for that friend or coworker who hurt your feelings.  The brain is nourished by the positive emotion of generosity and forgiveness. It has been shown to be very helpful to pray for someone who has wronged us--pray that s/he be blessed, that there is goodness in his/her day, that things go well for him/her. Such prayers benefit ourselves and the one for whom we are praying. It lifts a stress burden from our hearts when we forgive another.

These practices have been proven to lower our blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve many of the stressors on our bodies, minds and spirits.

May it be well with you.

Dorothy

Source of this information is from "Learn to be Well," Courtney Helgoe, Experience Life magazine, September, 2016, p.62-6