THE WAY OF HAPPINESS
Physical Health and Resilience
CHRONIC ILL HEALTH OR DISABILITY CAN HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON A PERSON’S LIFE. After becoming physically paralyzed, a once active and healthy man named Ulf said: “I became deeply depressed. My strength, courage, and power drained away . . . I felt ‘destroyed.’”
Ulf’s experience reminds us that none of us have complete control over our health. Still, we can take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of ill health. But what if our health deteriorates? Does that doom us to unhappiness? Not at all, as we shall see. First, though, let us consider some principles that promote good health.
BE “MODERATE IN HABITS.” (1 Timothy 3:2, 11) Habitually eating or drinking to excess is obviously bad for our health—not to mention our finances! “Do not be among those who drink too much wine, among those who gorge themselves on meat, for a drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty.”—Proverbs 23:20, 21.
DO NOT POLLUTE YOUR BODY. “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) People defile their bodies when they chew or smoke tobacco or abuse alcohol or drugs. Smoking, for example, “leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body,” says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
VIEW YOUR BODY AND YOUR LIFE AS PRECIOUS GIFTS. “By [God] we have life and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28) Appreciating that fact moves us to avoid taking needless risks, whether we are at work, driving, or choosing our recreation. A momentary thrill is not worth a life of disability!
CONTROL NEGATIVE EMOTIONS. Your mind and body are closely linked. So try to avoid undue anxiety, unbridled anger, envy, and other harmful emotions. “Let go of anger and abandon rage,” says Psalm 37:8. We also read: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.”—Matthew 6:34.
TRY TO FOCUS ON POSITIVE THOUGHTS. “A calm heart gives life to the body,” says Proverbs 14:30. The Bible also states: “A joyful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22) That is a scientifically sound statement. “If you are happy,” said a doctor in Scotland, “you are likely in the future to have less in the way of physical illness than those who are unhappy.”
BUILD RESILIENCE. Like Ulf, mentioned earlier, we may have no choice but to endure a persistent trial. Still, we can choose how we endure. Some become overwhelmed with discouragement, which may only make matters worse. “If you become discouraged in the day of distress, your strength will be meager,” says Proverbs 24:10.
Others, perhaps after initial feelings of despair, bounce back. They adapt. They find ways to cope. That was the case with Ulf. He said that after much prayer and meditation on the Bible’s positive message, he “started to see opportunities instead of obstacles.” Moreover, like many who undergo major trials, he learned valuable lessons in compassion and empathy, which moved him to share the Bible’s comforting message with others.
Another person who suffered greatly was a man named Steve. At age 15, he had an accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. By the time he was 18, he had regained the use of his arms. He then went to a university, where his life spiraled into drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality. He had no hope—until he began to study the Bible, which gave him a new outlook on life and helped him to conquer his bad habits. “The emptiness that I had felt for so long was no longer there,” he said. “My life is now filled with peace, happiness, and contentment.”
Steve and Ulf’s comments call to mind the words at Psalm 19:7, 8: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring strength. . . . The orders from Jehovah are righteous, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.”