At Yale University last semester, the most popular course on campus was the Psychology of happiness. Hundreds of students signed up for this specific course. The professor suggested proper diet and exercise as a source of happiness. The students were told to discover the things that gave them the greatest pleasure and to immerse themselves in said activities.
I started thinking about those in Law enforcement. Some officers I know devoured themselves with food and drink, gambled excessively, amused themselves with fast cars and fast lifestyles. Sadly, for all the pleasure-seeking officers, happiness seemed to elude them.
Recent studies show officers are suffering from depression and suicide more than ever. For many cops, I believe their lifestyles seem to bring them restlessness and anxiety that simmers just below the surface. Just as those Yale students look for happiness in the classroom, some cops find happiness in their maladaptive coping mechanisms.
WHAT BRINGS YOU HAPPINESS?
Cops acknowledge being in the presence of evil regularly, yet seem to be unaware of what can bring them true happiness. The first step towards that goal is to stop asking yourself, “Am I happy?” Your eyes look outward not inward. Your hands reach outward not inward. Your ears listen to what is around you. For many, the pursuit of happiness is an elusive goal.
First, start examining any over-consumption in your lifestyle. Take care of what you have. Apply that to food, clothing, your car, and your home. For young officers, as my father often said, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew!” Don’t buy a car or a house that you cannot afford. Don’t eat out to the point of having a negative bank account. I know countless officers who work overtime tirelessly just to break even. Too many cops keep coming up empty in their search for happiness.
See the value in simplicity. Before this world was filled with consumerism, what did people do?
I had the fortune of meeting many happy people who lived simply. They didn’t need the latest fashion, or gadget to be content. From a young age, I was guilty of getting caught up with buying things I couldn’t afford.
FIGURING IT OUT
Thankfully, I realized in my early twenties, that car or nice closet full of clothes can’t love you. Start taking care of YOU.
I know too many officers who take better care of their cars, lawn, shoe collection and/or summer home than they take care of themselves.
Following is a list of simple things to do daily which will (hopefully) bring you happiness.
Take charge of your health:
- Sign up for a gym membership, most first responders get a discount.
- If you don’t want to be around people. They acquire a treadmill or Stairmaster to boost your desire to burn off calories on your days off.
- Regularly get a check-up. Many people know you should get an annual physical. They sadly wait until it’s too late. Schedule that appointment now!
- Get tested for food allergies/sensitivities if you think you may be reacting to something in your diet.
Take charge of your diet:
- Brown bag it. You will have more time to relax and unwind instead of rushing to eat fast food.
- Pay attention to food that causes health problems. I worked with an officer who had chronic gout. The gout stemmed from a poor diet.
- Eat healthier and you will feel better. It will bring you happiness. Sometimes the solution is very simple. If you journal what you eat, you will often see extreme savings by simply bringing your lunches for the week.
Work on getting Happy Feet:
- People will dismiss walking as dull, but there’s an easy remedy for that.
- Vary your scenery by rotating locations.
- Go for that walk! Even at work, force yourself out of the cage of a squad car and into fresh air.
- On your days off, make time to go on walks regularly. Just take a walk. People watch, relax observe the world around you. It doesn’t have to be a race.
For me, a walk helps me with my thoughts, it becomes a walking meditation. I often make decisions on ideas-thoughts or questions I have had in my head.
Thrift – Historically, the idea of thrift is connected with savings and good management. It also intimately is tied with the notion of thriving, prosperity, good fortune and success. Who uses that word thrift today?
Many people today do not know how to live within their income. Gain both happiness and self-respect by living within your means. Create a personal lifestyle that includes both paying off debt and saving for your future.
Getting rid of the frantic desire to accumulate trendy possessions and only to replace them the following year. There is an old method you can practice called moderation. Learn to spend wisely, live longer and become happier!
True happiness enhances one’s health and beauty. Learn the interconnection of mental and physical health. Be as attentive to your mental and emotional wellbeing as you are to your physical wellbeing.
Mental health is fostered by active and virtuous living, which naturally promotes a positive self-esteem. Collectively, they help with the development of healthy, loving relationships.
We must always remember, self-absorption is deadly while self-reflection is a necessity! Let our happiness be contagious and allow our lives a happier place.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing me to share this touching story with you. I can be contacted with questions or input: EMAIL ME or call me at (386) 763-3000.