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It’s absolutely essential for your health to bring some form of relaxation response into your daily life. Volumes have been written about relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness, but here are some of my favorite ways to replenish and repair. ...

“I have had enough, Lord,” [Elijah] said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” —1 Kings 19:4

The prophet Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of all time. But at one point in his long labor of resisting Israel’s evil queen, he got burned out. He told the Lord, “I quit.”

The lord knew what he needed. First, Elijah needed rest. The Lord gave him time to sleep, and then an angel woke him to offer some food, for he needed to eat, and water, for he needed to drink. Often the solution to burnout is as simple as that: rest, nourishment, and hydration.

Elijah needed more. He needed some alone time with God. He traveled forty days and nights to get there. He had to get far away from the place where he labored to a place where he could be still and at peace. And God met him there, in that alone place. They had a bluntly honest talk. God renewed Elijah’s soul. Then he honored God and went back to work filled up.

What do you need? Rest? Food? Water? Time with God? He is ready to meet you in whatever place you find yourself today.

The Daniel Plan 365 Day Devotional is a companion to the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Daniel Plan.  This 365-day devotional provides the heartfelt insight you need to take your health to the next level.  Feast on something bigger than a fad.  Motivational tips, Scripture passages, Food for Thought, and a special note from Rick Warren lead the way to transformation for the long haul. 

Forget cutting calories and skipping meals. Try these tips to boost your energy levels. Do you start the day feeling fatigued? Or hit an afternoon energy slump that makes you want to take a nap under your desk? If so, your lack of get-up-and-go may have something to do with the way you are fueling (or failing to fuel) your body. If you’re cutting calories and skipping meals in an effort to control your weight – or depending on processed and fast foods, convenience-store snacks, caffeine, or candy to get you through your overly busy days – there’s a good chance you’re simply not giving your body the essential nutritional building blocks it needs to operate at peak capacity....
It probably comes as no surprise, but as the health editor here at Mind Body Green, I learned a LOT about health this year. I also made a number of changes to my diet, medicine cabinet, and daily routine. When you're writing and reading about wellness all day—and listening to and learning from some of the world's top experts in integrative and functional medicine—you can't help but apply some of what you've learned to your actual life. ...
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” —Genesis 12:1...

Joy is an emotion, and emotions are wordless. They're pure physical sensations in our bodies. We express the emotion of joy in many physical ways. For example, we jump for joy when we win a hard-fought competition, or we double over in uncontrollable laughter when someone relates a hilarious story. We squeal with delight after getting a surprise gift, and whoop and holler exuberantly when we hear fantastic news. We feel buoyant and jubilant on beautiful day.

When we feel joy, we feel great about ourselves. We feel confident, powerful, capable, lovable and fulfilled. These are all good reasons to experience more joy in our life.

Here are seven ways to do it.

1. Undertake a challenging activity with a commitment to mastering it.

Think of a project you've wanted to accomplish, whether it's creating a small flower garden in your yard, learning how to give your car a tuneup, or mastering the tango. The process of setting a goal, learning the necessary steps to achieve it, and giving it your best until you've mastered it will generate high self-esteem and pride. Those are feelings associated with joy.

2. Actively seek joy through inspiration.

Another way to get more joy into our lives is to find it through activities that stretch our perceptions and take us out of ordinary day-to-day life. Engaging meditation and prayer are two obvious ways to produce a feeling of well-being, serenity, and joy. Being alone in nature is another way to feel the joy of beauty — and oneness with a greater whole.

3. Engage in an activity that's pleasurable and feels like play.

Do an uplifting and enjoyable activity that's not goal-oriented, but just plain fun. A few examples include throwing a Frisbee with your dog, dancing, hiking, looking at beautiful art, enjoying a concert, or making love. Play and other activities that don't have a purpose other than helping us feel relaxed and happy keep our mind focused in the present. The present is where joy lives.

4. Deal with the sadness that blocks joy.

When we feel sad, joy it isn't possible to also feel bubbly and exhilarated. In a place that feels safe and private, constructively express your sadness by allowing yourself to cry. While crying, acknowledge your hurts and losses. Don't indulge any negative thoughts about yourself. Just keep telling yourself, "I'm fine. It's okay to cry. I just feel sad." You'll immediately feel washed clean — even joyful.

5. Honor yourself consciously and frequently.

Joy doesn't come from others; it comes from within. Interrupt negative thoughts about yourself and replace them with statements that honor yourself, such as, "I'm fine the way I am. I'm whole and complete. I did my best. I can do this. I love myself. What I'm seeking is within me." Also, focus on the good and what you did well. Write down self-appreciations so you can read and say them frequently. The more you reinforce these concepts, the more they'll become reality.

6. Give yourself a break from the day-to-day world.

Nurture yourself. Set up a time, just for you, when you can disconnect from daily responsibilities and get away from the noise, stimulation, and demands of your world. Joy comes easily when we focus on our own needs in a caring and loving way. Get a massage. Close the door, put your feet up, and watch the world outside your window. Take a nap. These kinds of activities replenish us and give our body and soul a chance to feel pure joy. Remind yourself: My job is to take care of myself.

7. Say the word often and contemplate its meaning.

Repeating and contemplating the word joy can create that emotion. Say it over and over, varying the speed, tone, and tempo until you laugh. Notice how your body feels when you say the word. Did your chest expand? Did your face relax? Think about what joy means to you. Be as specific as possible, imagining the feeling of joy, the images it conjures up, perhaps even the people and situations who trigger joy. Sign off your emails with the word joy. Paint the word on a smooth rock and keep it on your desk. More joy will rise up if you simply invite it to do so.

Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and workshop leader. Her award-winning book is Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.  

With the Powerball lottery jackpot reaching insane heights, many people are dreaming about how all that money will make them happy. Yet, as the saying goes, money doesn’t buy happiness, and according to recent findings from a 75-year (and counting) happiness study, this idiom appears to be 100 percent true.
In fact, according to psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development (aka the Harvard Happiness Study), “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.”

This, of course, is in contrast to what most of us believe. Waldinger, citing a study in which 80 percent of Millennials said a major life goal was to get rich and 50 percent said another major goal was to become famous, said, “We’re constantly told to lean into work, to push harder and achieve more. We’re given the impression that these are the things that we need to go after in order to have a good life.”

But according to the Harvard Happiness Study — and what we’ve learned from the world’s longest-living cultures — those aren’t the things that make us happy. It’s those healthy, sustained relationships that make us truly fulfilled.

Relationships and Happiness
Three big lessons on relationships have been unveiled through the Harvard Happiness Study, which Waldinger shared in his TED Talk.

1. Social Connections Matter
Researchers have found that people who have more social connections to family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people with fewer social connections. This is a tenet of people from the blue zones, where some of the healthiest, longest-living people on the planet live.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Athens School of Medicine, people living in the blue zones have reported that,… some lifestyle characteristics, like family coherence, avoidance of smoking, plant-based diet, moderate and daily physical activity, social engagement, where people of all ages are socially active and integrated into the community, are common in all people enrolled in the surveys.

Furthermore, loneliness kills and “turns out to be toxic.” Loners, those who are isolated or outcast, are less happy, less healthy, their health declines earlier and their brain functioning declines sooner. To top it off, they tend to have shorter lives.
“The sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely,” Waldinger said.

2. Quality Is More Important than Quantity
The number of social connections isn’t an indicator of happiness, necessarily, however. Our close relationships must be healthy relationships in order to influence our happiness in a positive manner.

Living in conflict is extremely damaging to our health. For example, according to Waldinger, high-conflict marriages without much affection are perhaps worse than getting divorced, while sustaining good, warm relationships is protective to our health. That is why conflict resolution is so vital to maintaining strong relationships.

One startling finding occurred when researchers attempted to find indicators for late-life happiness at midlife. Turns out, the Harvard Happiness Study participants’ health at 50 — such as cholesterol levels — wasn’t an accurate predictor of longevity; it was how satisfied they were in their relationships.

How did the Harvard Happiness Study reveal this? The participants who were most happy with their relationships at 50 turned out to be healthier than those who weren’t satisfied with their relationships when they reached 80.

Not only that, but being happy in old age turned out to not be affected by physical pain that often comes from decades of wear and tear on the body. Thus, physical pain becomes magnified by emotional pain, Waldinger said.

3. Good Relationships Protect Our Brains
In addition to longer life and better physical health, sustaining healthy relationships protects our brains as well. Our memories stay sharper longer, especially when we feel we can count on people with whom we have close relationships.

In addition, Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones,” shares the importance of strong relationships to those living in the blue zone regions:

The world’s longevity all-stars not only live longer, they also tend to live better. They have strong connections with their family and friends. They’re active. They wake up in the morning knowing that they have a purpose, and the world, in turn, reacts to them in a way that propels them along. An overwhelming majority of them still enjoy life. (3)

How to Apply the Happiness Study Findings
Truth be told, these lessons aren’t all that shocking. We’ve known seemingly forever that happy, healthy, close relationships are good for our health. However, it’s something many people ignore for myriad reasons: financial pressures, chronic stress, societal expectations, etc. As Waldinger put it, “We’re human. What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends.”

So how can we take a step back from the 21st-century “always on” mentality and put more focus on our lives outside of work and the online world? Waldinger suggested a few ways:

  • - Replace screen time with people time. That means overcoming nomophobia and FOMO.
  • - Liven up a stale relationship by doing something new together — long walks or date nights, for example.
  • - Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in years.
  • - Let go of family feuds and grudges.
  • - Focus on personal well-being, both physical and mental. Practice healing prayer.
  • - Build those close relationships.

In addition, Buettner has a few suggestions as well, gleaned from the blue zones:

  • - Surround yourself with family members and close friends who share your values. For residents of the blue zones, this comes naturally because social connectedness is ingrained into their cultures. Staying connected is a natural way to bust stress and improve quality of life.
  • - Build a strong support system. People in the blue zones “have better and stronger systems of support, they’re much more engaged with and helpful to each other, more willing and able to express feelings, including grief and anger, and other aspects of intimacy.” This type of social system reinforces healthy, positive behaviors and stress, which is one of the biggest contributors to chronic disease. There’s a lot of existing evidence that shows acute or chronic psychological stress can induce a chronic inflammatory process, which over time can increase the risk for diseases like heart disease, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases and digestive problems. (4)
  • - Focus on family. For example, during the weekly 24-hour sabbath that Seventh-day Adventist practice, they spend time focusing on family, God, camaraderie and nature.

If you do those things, your chances of a longer, healthier, happier life are greater — because, as Waldinger said, “The good life is built with good relationships.”

About the Happiness Study
For 75 years, the Harvard Study of Adult Development — aka the Happiness Study — has tracked the lives of 724 men, tracking their work, home lives, health, etc., year after year, to get a better picture of what makes people happy. About 60 of the original subjects are still alive and participating in the study, while more than 2,000 children of those original 724 are being study as well.

Two groups of men have been tracked since 1938. The first started as sophomores at Harvard while the second included a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, chosen specifically because they were from troubled and disadvantaged families. They’ve been tracked through survey questionnaires and interviews their entire lives and receive another questionnaire and round of interviews — in their living rooms — every two years.

Researchers also get their medical records from their doctors, draw their blood, scan their brains and talk to their children. They also take video of them talking with their wives about their concerns and recently asked the wives to join the study.

Happiness Study Takeaways

  • - “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.”
  • - Social connections matter. Researchers have found that people who have more social connections to family, friends and community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people with fewer social connections.
  • - Quality of relationship is more important than quantity of relationships. The number of social connections isn’t an indicator of happiness, necessarily, however. Our close relationships must be healthy relationships in order to influence our happiness in a positive manner.
  • - Good relationships protect our brains. Our memories stay sharper longer, especially when we feel we can count on people with whom we have close relationships.
You can put these findings into practice these ways: Replace screen time with people time, liven up a stale relationship by doing something new together, reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in years, let go of family feuds and grudges, focus on personal well-being, build close relationships, surround yourself with people who share your values, build a strong support system, and focus on family.

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a certified doctor of natural medicine, Doctor of Chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. In 2008, he started a functional medicine center in Nashville, which grew to become one of the most renowned clinics in the world.

They delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. —Psalm 1:2 NLT The psalmist speaks of the person who is blessed, fortunate, and happy. He meditates on god’s word day and night. to meditate is to think deeply about something, to go over and over it so that it sinks into the heart and influences the way we think, feel, and act....
If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or even just plain feeling crummy as a result of the Standard American Diet (SAD), you’ll want to seriously consider detoxifying....
The concept of detoxing is certainly not a new one. If you immerse yourself in the wellness world, even just a little bit, you quickly become aware of the hundreds of different ways to cleanse your body. From juice cleanses to Whole30 to sipping bone broth—there’s a detox out there that will tickle your fancy....

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