There have always been two main stances on health within society and I’m not sure if that will ever change. One side focuses on the belief that to be healthy is to live with a priority of looking and feeling younger, healthier and sexier. The other side is where the priorities of health, weight and image are of lesser value; however, happiness is still paramount and the end goal. No matter which view on health you align with, ultimately we all have the same end goal of happiness and ironically a person’s level of happiness may directly impact on their health. It is an ongoing, perpetual cycle.
I believe it is important to acknowledge that there is a direct link between positive emotions, happiness and good health. In a study in 2007 Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor of society, human development and health at the Harvard School of Public Health, found that “emotional vitality – a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance – appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease”. This research clearly outlines the link between positive emotions and good health, which the raises the question – what does healthy look like to you?
There are many blogs and articles that discuss what is means to be healthy. Some articles focus on plus size models, some on mums of all ages and others promote being lean and fit. There are many different views of what being healthy and happy actually looks like, as everyone deserves to be happy regardless of height, weight, size or age. Personally, I don’t think there is a right and wrong way to live with health, how you live and what determines your happiness is totally up to you.
However, over recent years the news on the team that is always fighting to look sexier, toned, shredded and healthier has received some negative reactions in the media. Whether it’s blogs about selfies, fitness regimes, being thin or even how little or how much they eat, there is a constant battle of opposing viewpoints that regularly clash. On social media over the past few years, there has been a non-stop barrage of bullying on the men and women who take more time to showcase their fitness or health journey or choose to publicly take pride in their appearance. I think we need to understand that the need to be smaller, fitter, more shredded, musclier, toned or sexier isn’t going to go away.
To look like the statue of ‘David’ for men or Botticelli’s ‘Venus’ for women, has been there since the beginning of time or at least from the Renaissance era if we are measuring time from the art works I’ve referenced. To think neither of these artists (Michael Angelo or Sandro Botticelli) never received any influence from Social Media (Instagram or Facebook) and yet they still communicated their vision of beauty and anatomical perfection.
I think this is just evidence that men and women have been chasing the art of external beauty for a very long time and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it nor that it’s ever going to really change. However, society has begun to show greater acceptance of the view that there are multiple images of beauty and they are all allowed. It’s happiness people are chasing, whether it is spending less time worrying about preparing healthy food and more time with family and friends or actually spending more time being careful of what you eat and how much you train. Happiness is found in different places for everyone, isn’t that the goal in life? That we discover our own happiness?
Happiness has always been the end goal, to be content with who you were, who you are and who you are going to become. If going to the gym, eating healthy or even surgery, from gastric banding to breast augmentation, is going to make you smile and feel better about yourself then I say, go out there and do it! Research suggests that the level of your happiness will eventually directly impact on your overall health anyway, so it is only logical that you do what you need to do to foster greater positive emotions that will in turn foster good health.
Everyone is entitled to their own definition of beauty regardless of the opinions of others. Ignore those who prevent you from exploring what makes you happy and simply go out and do all the things that make you better than you were yesterday. That is what life is all about, you being allowed to search for whatever it is that makes you feel amazing and become a happier, healthier person than ever before.