I am seated in the hotel lobby situated in the heart of Madrid, Spain. Slightly more than a decade ago, I couldn't even imagine that I would travel around the world; actually I didn't even have a passport. Thirty - seven countries later it all feels like I am living in a dream. When I forget to carry a good book for the trip, I have a look at my passport. Each stamp at an immigration counter brings back memories of the trip. The highs, the wins, the sights and sounds, the food and the Brew, the local people, languages, and the local culture.
As I sit here thinking about it, there is a slight unrest and anxiety inside. Was it because of the call from the architect asking for the pending payment or the possibility of not keeping my promise of taking the kids to a foreign trip (has been pending since we started Project Belaku, the place we call home these days) or was it the anger that small maintenance issues back home aren't getting sorted when I am not around and get piled for me to manage on returning or is it the anxiety related to the meetings that need to be done in the following days? Maybe it is a mix of everything and maybe not…
Thoughts wander towards what I am reading and viewing these days… Nobel Prize, return to basic concepts of research, economic instability, clashes in beliefs, selfi(e)shness, change in perception of nature of foods, and a wide array of things. As I try to catch-up with my thoughts and realize that what is being published was years in the making or research and I was dwelling into the past. I gather my thoughts and suddenly they transport me to the future where it looks like the clash of beliefs will intensify, people are more impatient and instant gratification is almost felt as a right than a pass-time, the inevitable emergence of artificial intelligence to replace humans, increasing economic instability leading to huge societal disparity, and then health being at the foremost but most neglected aspect. And then as if magically, I hear Master Oogway whispering into my ears… “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift... that's why they call it present”. Well then Mr Oogway, what do I do to be in the present? Again the thoughts wander into the basics of happiness.. it is what we feel inside of us and need not necessarily be influenced by what others and external factors do to us. I start thinking about the role of the left prefrontal cortex and the chemicals dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins in making a person happy. Then there is the factor of being healthy to be able to relish these…
The definition of health has evolved over time. In keeping with the biomedical perspective, early definitions of health focused on the theme of the body's ability to function; health was seen as a state of normal function that could be disrupted from time to time by disease. In 1948, in a radical departure from previous definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition that aimed higher: linking health to well-being, in terms of "physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity". Just as there was a shift from viewing disease as a state to thinking of it as a process, the same shift happened in definitions of health. Again, the WHO played a leading role when it fostered the development of the health promotion movement in the 1980s. This brought in a new conception of health, not as a state, but in dynamic terms of resiliency, in other words, as "a resource for living". 1984 WHO revised the definition of health defined it as "the extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs and to change or cope with the environment. Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities". Thus, health referred to the ability to maintain homeostasis and recover from insults. Therefore, health broadly can be termed as the culmination of mental, intellectual, physical, emotional, and social wellness that assist the person in being able to handle stress, acquire skills, maintain relationships, all of which form the basic construct and resources for a resilient and independent life.
Now, how do we link these lengthy, vague and immeasurable parameters to a healthy present and to the basic sciences leading to happiness? Of course by living the present with a bookmark in the past and an eye on the future. Therein was seeded the idea of the Happiness Project – A pursuit of healthy aging; which if successful could then be translated to the pursuit for healthy living for the kids. The outline for the Happiness Project is simple (it at least seemed so when I structured it in my mind). If you will note, it involves decluttering the excess triggers that make one resistant to the chemicals that lead to happiness. The idea is to be able to experience all emotions within the self and not let external factors impact emotions, response and most importantly the mindset. I fell back on the three things that I raise a toast to ‘Health, Wealth and Happiness’:
a. Eat the right things and only when really hungry – helps you appreciate the food better
b. Exercise – appreciate your current age and gently push the limits
c. Sleep – well… J
a. Prioritize your aspirations for the future based on self, family, skills, environment and a huge helpful of common sense with a pinch of reality sprinkled on top
b. Save enough to not be dependent on anyone when you are old, any further aspiration is an invitation to live continuously in anxiety of the future
a. Prioritize, prioritize and before I forget it… prioritize
b. Have a bunch of mates that will be there for you when you need them
c. Learn from your kids how to be children again
d. Spend time with family
f. Weed the elements that bring negativity to your thoughts; if inevitable, reduce the interactions with these elements
g. Phase out of social platforms and exposure to LED screens (these are the ones that are driving you into the well of instant gratification and making you resistant to the small pleasures of life)
h. Take that trip, even if it means a small hole in the pocket
i. Invest time for contribution to the community that you live in
j. Be unpredictable, SURPRISE… not others, but yourselves first!!!
The executive at the lobby brings me back to reality. “Your cab is here Sir”. I walk a few steps and then turnaround to say, “Gracias. Have a great day ahead!” and then stepping into the cab I say with a renewed energy in my voice, “OLA amigo, conference center please!” Wish me luck, not for the conference, but for the Happiness Project!!!