Exercise and Relationships: The Second and Third Roots of Happiness

Exercise

Exercise promotes health and the natural flow of energy. It helps you fight stress by augmenting your strength, vigour, flexibility and overall hardiness. It relieves depression and insomnia, and boosts your immune function. It is essential to healthy aging, because it keeps your body agile and enhances brain function. Be sure to breathe deeply when you exercise. “True physical exercise, in whatever form it takes, is the practice of aligning yourself with your source of energy.”

When you wake up each day, create a self-fulfilling prophecy by picturing yourself active and fit. If exercise feels like a chore, you won’t do it, so try different activities, such as yoga, dancing, biking, tai chi, qigong or swimming, until you find the ones you like. All have health benefits, especially for those not athletically inclined. Even walking is good, if that’s all you can do. Once you start moving, you will want to move more.

Relationships

People believe in the “self-made” person, the rugged individualist. But, in fact, intimacy – your connection to your loved ones and your community – is what provides opportunities for growth and well-being.

Respect the following natural hierarchy of relationships; other priorities don’t work:

  1. Your relationship with the universe, God or a higher power.
  2. Your relationship with your spouse.
  3. Your relationship with your children.
  4. Your relationship with your work and your community.

Love replenishes and sustains our minds, bodies, and souls…It is a primal need of humans as social beings to belong to something greater than our individual selves.

Some people believe that intimacy will come from someone else. They are surprised to find, as a relationship goes on, that they eventually feel just as empty and have just as deep a sense of longing as they did before they began the relationship.

To find intimacy, you must look within. If you can’t, how will you see into someone else? When you deny knowledge of your inner self or fear discovering what you truly want in life, you commit “selficide.” You numb yourself without realizing it. You cut yourself off from your source. Build self-intimacy by listening to yourself, savouring life through all your senses and recalling the things you love and cherish.

There is a great healing power in touch, and research is now showing how critical touch is to our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Technology can isolate you, and a busy schedule can leave little time for getting to know the others in your life. Stress and sleep deprivation make intimacy less of a priority for you; yet intimacy is essential to health and happiness. People naturally desire love. They seek partners with whom they can share their minds, bodies and souls. But intimacy requires time. Set aside time in your schedule for maintaining friendships. Friends support you through major life events; they are worth at least the same consideration as a business meeting. Belonging to a community offers you the experience of contributing to something greater than yourself. It is an essential root of happiness.

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