Canadians are, according to the World Happiness Report, a relatively happy bunch. We score fifth happiest in the world out of 150 countries! The scale used in determining this charted overall well-being based on an analysis of social factors and the norms and networks that connect people.
The second section of the report focuses on an important factor of individual happiness: mental health.
Unfortunately, our mental health measurements do not score so well. According to statistics, one in five Canadians experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. It seems we are happy with our neighbourhoods and standard of living, but those comforts do not bring consistent mental well-being to many fellow citizens.
A good state of mental health, including our happiness, affects our genes and thus our overall physical well-being, some scientists say. Yet, this state is something that doesn’t just show up simply because all of the things about our day-to-day life are basically good or even great. It really comes from inside us.
Researchers at UCLA concluded that people with a deep sense of purpose in life – coined as eudemonic well-being – have a better health profile.
The adage “money doesn’t buy happiness’, is not far from the truth, as studies show that the happiest people are not the wealthiest, but those who attribute their joy to faith, family, and love of country.
So how can we find and nurture a permanent connection to such purposefulness, and one that isn’t at risk of being destroyed or diminished if human circumstances change?
Christina Puchalski, MD, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, contends that “spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”
Over the centuries, and still true today, the ideas and lessons shared in the Scriptures have provided us with a way to connect to a sense of purpose in life.
The question asked by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount made his listeners rethink what is important in their lives. He asks them, “Why are you looking to your food and clothing – or any merely human situation – for happiness? Don’t you see that anybody who’s preoccupied with those things finds no joy. Instead, look to your heavenly Father and only to Him, and every single detail of your life – including your happiness – will be generously supplied by God every moment” (see Matthew 6:25-33).
His Sermon, illustrated by his life’s work, teaches that our search for purpose should focus on understanding our relationship to a loving Father. He encouraged his listeners to look for and express in our lives the goodness of that Father – through kindness, integrity, and unselfishness. And he tells us that this focus will result in supplying our every need, including happiness.
Happiness matters to our overall health. How important then, we base our mental well-being on a firm spiritual foundation.
You can read this article in several Metroland news editions, such as York Region – read here