We mentioned in the last section that negative emotions can have a negative impact on your physical health -- it turns out that the opposite is also true. A 2008 study conducted at the University of Nebraska examined data from surveys about health, happiness and life satisfaction. Its conclusion was that healthy people are generally happier and that happy people are generally healthier. One of the study's authors, Dr. Mohammad Siahpush, stated that "there are indications that as you become happier and more satisfied with your life, you tend to become healthier as well" [source: American Journal of Health Promotion].
We know that habits like smoking, taking drugs and excessive drinking aren't healthy, and that getting somewhere between six and eight hours of sleep contributes to our physical health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn't mean being incredibly strict with yourself when it comes to things like diet and exercise, though. If you don't get in four servings of fruit or five servings of vegetables, it's not the end of the world -- the important thing is that you try.
When you think of exercise, do you picture running on a treadmill at 5 a.m.? It doesn't have to be that way. Most guidelines state that you should get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercise can be had by running or walking, but you could also get it through dancing, swimming or playing sports. If you choose something that you enjoy doing, you'll be more likely to keep it up. You'll also be happier while exercising, because it doesn't feel like as much of a chore.
Physical health is just half of the equation. You also have to consider your mental health, and that means keeping down the stress in your life. That can be difficult to do when you have so many things going on, but it's definitely necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you're feeling stressed, take a deep breath, stretch or get some exercise. Some people find meditation helpful -- you can start by simply sitting still with your eyes closed for five minutes, gently banishing any thoughts that cross your mind. With time, you can extend your meditation practice.
So far, we've delved into some pretty serious concepts in order to discover how to be happy with yourself. Next, we'll look at a topic that's just as important, but is far from serious: making time for fun.