Keys to a Happy, Healthy Heart
by Nancy Russell Catan

Recently when in my doctor’s of fice for checkup, I picked up one of the magazines there to read while waiting. I was happily surprised to find that instead of dwelling on the medical side of illness, the magazine’s feature article zeroed in on the emotional side of illness. I took some notes so that I could share them with you. I believe these keys are as important as the medicines that the doctors prescribe.

A happy heart is the key to a healthy heart. If we spend time and effort in keeping physically fit through medicines, vitamins and supplements, serious exercise regimes and diets, we must also spend time and effort in cultivating happiness and a spirit of optimistic hope in the future.

The article listed several keys to strengthening our position on the happiness scale. Firstly, we need to believe in Some One, in God, in a Higher Being; we also need to believe in ourselves, that we are His children, and that God has only good plans for us. Secondly, we should enjoy life and savor every moment. Yes, we have adult responsibilities that demand serious thought and action, but, at the same time, we also have a responsibility to our hearts to let go of the stress, and have some childlike fun…flying a kite, learning how to use a skateboard, or playing hide and seek with our kids.

Another key is to make time in our busy schedules for relaxing rituals like meditation, having a regular, quiet prayer time, settling down with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book, walking your dog, talking to your orchids, or listening to your favorite music. The article also recommended having a glass of red wine once a day, citing studies that this could lower heart disease incidence by up to 30%. Of course, having more than one glass of wine a day tends to increase risk, rather than further reduce the risk of heart disease.

We need to create a safe haven for ourselves, a place to go when we need to think, a refuge from the noise and never-ending activities around us, a place where we do not feel threatened by outside influences or people. This can be a quiet room (without TV or radio) at home, or under a favorite tree in our yard, or in the nearest Adoration Chapel.

Lastly, we do not exist in a vacuum, ‘no man is an island’. We should make time for our loved ones, family, friends, coworkers. To feel authentically happy and fulfilled, we must share ourselves with others, with those we love as well as with those who are most in need of a kind word or a shoulder to cry on.

I can hear you comment, “But I don’t have time for any of those ‘non-productive’ activities.” I thought I didn’t have the time either, until I began to make an appointment with myself … at first only 15 minutes, then 30 minutes a day… Now I realize that when I am more relaxed and in a happier mood, I can accomplish much more.

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