Live Your Best Life – Part 5 of a 6-part series exploring happiness and contentment


As we enter Part 5 of our contentment and happiness article series, we really get into the “heart” of the matter. Earlier we talked about our physical well-being as well as our mental and emotional health. This section will deal with our mind which is at the heart of who we all are.

While our physical health is literally determined by the many systems in our body that work together, and our emotional health is determined by the thoughts going through our brain, the mind is a little different. It is represented figuratively by our heart which many physicians consider to be the central organ of our existence.

While I want to focus on our spiritual health, this will not be an article on religion. It will contain a few concepts that each of the great religions of the world values, but I will not push one specific point of view over another. There is a reason why more wars have been fought and lives lost throughout history to religion than to any other cause. People have very strong feelings when it comes to specific religions (like myself) but that is not the point here. It’s about diving into ourselves and discovering what is really within us.

We are all unique individuals. We have our own dreams and desires. We keep a lot of our innermost thoughts private. We have things and people we love and concepts we despise. We are all our “own person”.

We also each have a set of rules that we value and respect. These rules could come from religious concepts we learned, from morals taught to us at an early age, or from guidelines we discovered on our own and wish to follow. Most people have heard of the Code of Chivalry followed by knights in the Middle Ages. Chivalry was a very strict set of beliefs that a knight had to uphold even if he led to his death. Monks from different religious sects give up all physical pleasures in order to focus on helping others and to be more aware of the spiritual aspects of their lives. The major religions of the world have holy books with lists of things to do as well as things not to do.

It is these concepts that make up the spiritual aspects of our lives.

While the events of the past 18 months have definitely changed my mindset about some things, I still consider myself an optimist. I try to look on the positive side and enjoy life to the fullest. We live in an amazing world and can create adventure and happiness if we want to. I also believe that each person has an innate sense of right and wrong. Sometimes we do things that go against this set of internal scales because we think they will make us “happy”. However, whenever you do something that goes against what you know to be right (based on the guidelines you are following) it will lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction inside.

Let’s look at some examples. First, if a person grows up in a family unit who enjoys having dinner together at the table, there is a good chance that person will grow into an adult who enjoys this as well. Many of our moral and ethical values ​​are taught to us from an early age by the adults who have the most influence in our lives. If this simple act of having dinner together doesn’t happen (and this person indeed considers it an important part of the day), then something just won’t seem right. Obviously, this little example isn’t going to totally destroy a person’s life, but there could be dozens of these little violations of our core beliefs that could damage our minds.

Most people would consider education to be a good thing. Knowledge is important. However, if a person grows up in a household in which education is not an important part of the family, it will not be a valued trait. A lack of knowledge can then lead to generational poverty which is a very real thing and difficult to overcome because it is an integral part of many lifestyles. A person who grows up in this way of life can be looked down upon and ridiculed for valuing education and going against the concept of normalcy in the lives of those close to them. Their minds will suffer unless they can change their core belief system.

There are also behaviors that we may just “want” to participate in knowing that they are bad. We can truly think of them as part of who we are, but in reality they violate our basic concepts of right and wrong and will only lead to misery and destruction. Many of us find out the hard way.

So what does all of this mean? Simply put, we each have our own system of rules that we try to follow. Some of them can be rooted from an early age while others were discovered later in life. If we take part in any action that violates these beliefs, our minds suffer and we feel miserable or guilty. I admit that there are people who seem to have no ethics or morals at all. This in itself is also a set of beliefs and these people normally live short / violent lives refusing to follow even the simplest rules. Rebellion is a precious trait in their minds that they feel they need to follow.

One last question ? Can our values ​​change? ABSOLUTELY!!! If you are doing something destructive that is causing problems in your life, it is ridiculous to say that it is “as you are.” We all have control over what we believe and what we do. We make choices (some good and some bad) in our lives. And if our mind has been polluted with dirt, get rid of the dirt and change! If your core values ​​lead to illegal behavior, incarceration, and / or horrific relationships with others, you may need to rethink things. Although you can follow your mind, I doubt you will be happy and content with your existence.

For our final part of this series, I’m going to start a daily “plan” to follow. As a runner I have been asked repeatedly to provide people with workout plans or guides to help them get in shape. Next week I will be posting a plan to exercise your body, mind, and spirit. And it will be easier than you think …….

Thanks for reading!

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Shane Tucker

Shane Tucker is a retired teacher and ultra-runner. He is a longtime resident of Chattooga County, a member of the Alpine Community Church and enjoys hiking and running with Cookie, the rescued Basset-Lab.

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