In the final scenes (SPOILER ALERT) the lead character is discussing the findings of his happiness research trip with a monk that he had made during his travels over Skype. He comes to the conclusion that not only do we have a right to be happy, a need to be happy but an OBLIGATION to be happy. This profound conclusion to the film gave me pause. I had to ask myself: why do we all not think this way? Why do we think that happiness is a reward at the end of great sacrifice, rather than a process? Why do we think the same about health?
So many people that I have worked with over the years have given so much to other aspects of their life that they no longer feel that good health is a possibility for them – much like happiness. It is true for almost all of us, at least at some point in our lives. It is very easy to fall into a routine of working hard, sacrificing for the company or for your own business, sacrificing for your family, friends, children, animals, the list goes on. And this is no joke! How do we get to the point where we aren’t willing to accept the family dog having poor health but we will accept our own poor health?! How do we get to the point where every other person in the family’s health is more important to our own – and our approach to work is only to work harder and longer hours rather than improving structures and increasing the value of the business through means which don’t have us sacrificing our own well-being. The leading companies of 2015 (Apple, Google) have great programs to maximise employee health and see profit and productivity as a result of good health, not the other way around. They are not only getting results from their current employees but attracting the next generation because of such benefits to lifestyle.
For many I believe the answer is to give yourself permission to be a selfish. I don’t mean completely self-asorbed. I mean that you need to work on ‘you’ first so that you can be the best ‘you’ to share with other people. When you are at your best, you are better able and in a more powerful position to give back to others. The psychiatrist in the film did something extraordinarily selfish by taking leave from his work and leaving a distraught girlfriend at home and whilst you might judge the means, you can’t judge the process. We are better people, for ourselves and others, when we have taken the time to work on ourselves first. This may sound heartless but we need to remember that your health is a long game, not a short game. She who wins the battle, may not win the war. It takes a lot more heart and courage to take this long term approach rather than draining yourself short term and slowly depleting your health. By having an attitude of constantly improving yourself and having your health at the centre of your world, you will add many, many happy, productive, successful and energised years to your life.
Please share with your friends and family and why not start a conversation tonight with those important to you about how you can make each other’s lives healthier and happier – but remember, it starts with you!