By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
As a father, I remember many times assembling toys for my children. Some of them were complicated and required carefully following the provided instructions. My mechanical intuition just wasn’t adequate.
In the end, when I patiently followed the steps for putting these toys together, I was happy and my kids were happy.
There are other areas in life, too, where following some steps brings about good results.
Sven Eberlein, a freelance writer and journalist in San Francisco has come up with what he calls 9 Simple Steps to Improve Your Health, all of which are supported by research. His list was published in Daily Good, News That Inspires.
Health is probably something most people are interested in. Some approach improving their physical health as a two-step process. One, go to the doctor. Two, do what the doctor says. Pretty simple.
Other people find this doesn’t always work for them.
Even though Eberlein’s approach has more steps, it does more than help us stay healthier. It can enrich our lives in other ways as well.
Several of his steps stand out to me. They are:
Laugh to your heart’s delight.
“Laughter might be one of the only things in life that can be done outside of moderation and still reap the benefits,” muses Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Research shows that seniors engaged in activities like singing, creative writing, or painting are healthier and happier than those who aren’t.
Work with friends
Israeli researchers found that people who get along with their co-workers in a friendly and supportive work environment live longer.
Chat with the neighbors
A 50-year study centered around Roseto, Penn., a close-knit community of Italian-Americans, showed the lowest rates of heart disease in the nation until the town became more “suburbanized” in the 1960s.
Hope like your life depends on it
We know enough about anxiety and depression to drag us down for several lifetimes, but a truly uplifting new study by Harvard’s School of Public Health gives reasons to rejoice. “Happy and optimistic people with a purpose in life tend to have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” says researcher Julia K. Boehm.
This is an expansive list of steps for improving your health. But I’m wondering if it’s complete. Could there be a spiritual step to a healthy life?
Journalist Richard Schiffman writes that “…regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer and staying healthy.”
This seems like a nice complement to the list above. Even though Schiffman has found recent research to support prayer as a path to health, this is not a new idea.
In the nineteenth century, health researcher and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, made these same observations. Beyond demonstrating that prayer has a health benefit, she showed that prayer in and of itself could be approached through a reasoned process, beginning with a premise and reaching conclusion. Through this process she found the elements of prayer that heal consistently.
For a complex issue like health, going beyond the two-step to include more of the emotional and spiritual elements may be a way to a happier, healthier life.
First published on OregonLive.