Salutogenesis: How to Be Happy and Healthy

About: Focus on health and well-being

Salutogenesis is the opposite of pathogenesis which means looking for issues, problems that need to be solved in order to become healthy and happy. Salutogenesis means to look for the positive things even when things are not optimal. Salutogenesis is concerned with the relationship between health, stress, and coping. It provides an umbrella, paraplu or parasol of many different resources that protect against unhappiness and in general to help being healthy.

The umbrella of health and happiness

Many people have the approach to look for eternal happiness by eradicating the negative things in life. We call this a focus on pathogenesis. To look for perfection in e.g. your house, your job, your relationship. Or just drinking 100 or 50 euro bottles of wine, that taste exactly the same as the 10 to 5 euro bottles of wine. People will find out that when these goals have been reached there are new goals of perfection have to be achieved. So maybe the problem is not to achieve perfection or happiness, but to actually continuously looking for perfection and happiness.

But why not focus on the good things already there? Even in difficult times as we experience right now.  That is a different approach and can be reached fairly easily. By just doing it. It takes less time and effort and it leaves less room for continuous improvement. Focus on things like gratitude, self-efficacy, hardiness, empathy and humor (the umbrella).

Jumping Salmons

In this view, happiness does not happen in the future. But it is there already and now. And to take action to make it happen in the River of Life. It was inspired by what wild salmons do. They are born in a river and then swim all the way to the Ocean where they feed and grow. Then they swim back to the river where they were born and even are able to jump up to high levels because they became very strong.

Health and Happiness in the River of Life

Achieving happiness is actually quite simple. Just use your strength and do the things that make you happy with the people that make you happy and with the person that you are and that you are with. Don’t wait for happiness. A list of things you can do today:

  • Being there, as in the story about the gardener who became the president (book by Jerzy Kosinski and movie with Peter Sellers)
  • Connecting with people. Develop your social and emotional intelligence.
  • Do what you love to do, whatever it is. Cook, walk, visit, listen, see, talk.
  • What are the good things everyday? They can be unexpected and paradoxical.
  • Only do work that you like to do. Are you good at text editing, translation, technology and you like to do it. Just do it and lose yourself in your work. It gives you a sense of meaningfulness especially if you can share this with others.
  • Help other people, it is not very difficult.
  • Reflect everyday, end of day before you go to sleep. Take it with you to bed.
  • Pay attention to small things. Such as reading, talking, walking, breathing, listening to the birds or the wind in the trees.
  • Taking care of other people, whoever they are. It is simple and easy.
  • Express gratitude. Also an easy thing to do once you start paying attention to small things.
  • Become a lifelong learner. Read more.
  • Simplify your life by eliminating unnecessary things and creating chaos. The minimal lifestyle.
  • Make a small change, fix or repair in your house. Get it from the list.
  • Slow down. Not everything can or will happen quickly. You can take a day off sometimes.
  • Exercise every day and develop your own little program. Walking in nature is an easy thing to do, as are simple yoga exercises.
  • Accept that things not always go the way you want them to go. The world is less than perfect.
  • Be aware of wonderful things in life. This can be something someone else is doing, such as launching a rocket to the Moon or Mars. Or it can be a great book, recipe, wonderful music or knowledge or person.
  • Go to the water to swim, sail or just take a boat. Listen to the sounds of the water, the wind and look at the sky, the sun, the blue water and the blue sky.
Magical Moments

Don’t do all of these things at the same time. Just pick and choose what makes most sense to you. And above all it is not necessary to achieve perfection. Actually this will make you unhappy, which is the paradoxical truth. A great book to read about this topic is: The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness by Paul Watzlawick.

Recommendation: It is easy to focus on negative things, such as anxiety or a high pulse rate and seek for immediate relief. But it is better to have a mid-term or long-term view on the positive things such as feeling well and healthy, have positive thoughts.

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