Everyday Spiritual Enlightenment
It's the smallest things in our life that have the biggest impact on our health and happiness.
Whenever my patients come into my office, I offer them much more than just skincare advice. I talk to them about their lives, too, and as a result, they tell me they leave feeling better about themselves. I'm a big believer that confidence and happiness in one's life—along with strong self-esteem—contributes to great skin and a healthy body as well.
Here's the key: what I've found is that it's often the simplest gestures every day that can make us feel better, boost our mood, and calm us—reducing stress and boosting health, including the health of our skin. I call this everyday spiritual enlightenment. Here are a few of the simple reminders that I give to my patients; these are good bits of advice for everyone!
√ Go out and enjoy life; don't wait for the right moment. How many of us wait for enough money or the exact right time to take a vacation or do something that we love. (So many unused vacation days go to waste for so many Americans.) Don't wait: schedule that time off or visit to that place you've always wanted to see. I've always had believed that this is important for health—so it wasn't a surprise to me when one study from the University of California-Berkeley found a link between positive emotions— especially the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art and spirituality—with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. (Sustained high levels of cytokines are associated with poorer health and disorders such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's.)
√ Don't just evaluate situations with your mind, pay attention to how you feel (your gut response or intuition), too. Your mind can lie but your feelings/emotions won't. I liken the gut to our own inner GPS!
√ Live in the now, not in the yesterday or tomorrow. Enjoy and feel the power of the moment. Be there totally. Life is now. Feel your presence. I love this from the Dalai Lama, which speaks to just this:
"The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate this health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
√ Find something to be thankful for every day. Be thankful to be alive, for family, friends, health, for a good deed from a stranger.
√ Learn how to forgive. Letting go of bitterness and grudges helps free up that energy that you're devoting to the negativity. Forgiveness, research has shown, is also good for your health, bettering your sleep quality, your blood pressure, your heart rate (and your heart health), your anxiety levels, rates of depression, stress, and even cholesterol levels. So do your health a favor: add more peace to your life and forgive!
√ Don't only focus on your outer purpose or goal (career, riches) but also on each step of the way and how we build our inner purpose/consciousness. Our journey in life has both an outer purpose (to reach a goal or accomplish something) and an inner purpose (this is the journey into yourself)—and they're both intricately entwined and both essential to your overall health. In fact, one fascinating study[ii] actually found that having a purpose in life motivates a person to optimize their health, which means they're more likely to take care of themselves.
This follows the philosophy: "Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside."
√ Avoid repetitive negative thoughts, such as judgment, criticism, hatred, or anger. Try to focus on the positive.
√ Be selective of those in your inner circle. If someone is always negative, complaining, and criticizing others, it will also affect you. Like mom always used to say, be careful of the friends you choose. Limit your time in bad relationships.
√ Show kindness and compassion to others. It's contagious and just feels good!
Stay positive, enjoy life & be well,
"Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines", Jennifer E. Stellar, Neha John-Henderson, Craig L. Anderson, et al., Emotion, Jan. 19, 2015; http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/emo0000033
[ii] "Forgive to Live: New Research Shows Forgiveness is Good for the Heart," Amy Westervelt, Good, August 25, 2012; http://magazine.good.is/articles/forgive-to-live-new-research-shows-forgiveness-is-good-for-the-heart
[iii] "'Purpose in Life' Can Help Reduce Medical Costs," Karen Kaplan, The Seattle Times, November 3, 2014;http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2024946289_healthpurposexml.html