Friday, June 7, 2024

To Your Happiness and Health


There is a correlation between happiness and health. In fact, there are four distinct levels of happiness that are directly involved in your overall well-being.

Robert Spitzer, S.J., president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, refined a model of the Four Levels of Happiness, to say it will “dictate our actions, choices, and ethics,” and “whichever level of happiness dominates our lives will determine the depth and endurance of our happiness.” I will add to that, it will also determine the depth of the symbiotic (balanced) nature of your total self.

The first level of happiness is centered around immediate gratification and physical pleasure, such as consuming food, beverage, and other substances (licit or illicit). Level One is not all bad because we do need to consume food and drink to live. Satisfaction from the pleasure of eating foods, particularly bad foods, feeds our dopamine receptors (the “feel good” hormone), and we want to feed that pleasure. Think of the song “Feed Me” from the movie Little Shop of Horrors. Level One can leave you in a shallow state, which ebbs and flows waiting for that next dopamine fix from sustenance or substance.

People that are in this lowest rung of happiness may dietarily struggle with weight management, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, arthritic pain, hyperlipidemia (abnormal cholesterol levels), ADD/ADHD, or dietary-related stress from adrenaline dominance.

To overcome Level One happiness and move into the higher levels, you must work on Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude. Prudence helps you differentiate the good habits from the bad. Once you're able to make the distinction between good versus bad, it is followed by Temperance–the ability to say no to the bad. As you start to say no to the bad habits, you use Fortitude to help you have the courage to move toward the highest good (not just "a good").

The second level of happiness hinges on feeding the ego that's self-serving (i.e. “all about me”). Spitzer explains it as, “I need to be constantly achieving and winning in my life, for example, being recognized at work, getting the next promotion, or making sure my project has top priority.” While Level One can center itself around pleasure, Level Two could lead to pride—the focus is being in control and consuming power. Level Two is on a Win-Lose model, as Spitzer elaborates, “in order for me to win, others must lose.” This second level isn’t all bad, like Level One, because having self-confidence and good credibility can be meritorious. Level Two is less shallow than Level One, but it’s still not sustainable.

People in Level Two happiness may lead to changes in health including adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, erratic changes in mood, struggles with mental health and focus, high blood pressure, ADD/ADHD, adrenaline dominance, non-dietary related digestive discomfort, or a compromised immune system.

To overcome Level Two happiness and move into Level Three and Four, you'll need to strengthen your virtue of Humility, and it will be Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude to get you there. 

The third level of happiness as Spitzer remarks, “is also somewhat about ego, but unlike Level Two, it is turned outward. My skills and talents are aimed at serving others. It is still about winning, but it’s now more about achieving Win-Win results rather than Win-Lose.” In other words it is less about me and more about others. By redirecting the focus from you as a person, you begin to see the bigger picture of meaning and purpose in life. Spitzer goes on to say, “My [your] happiness is now growing in pervasiveness because it impacts other people.”

And finally the fourth and highest level of happiness, Spitzer says, “is what I ultimately seek in life. I fundamentally desire ultimate or perfect truth, beauty, love, goodness, and being.” Once you reach Level Four happiness, you see the “material elements of the world” is really about being in relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This highest level of happiness is long lasting and enduring. 

Once a person breaks through into the two higher rungs, Levels Three and Four, the expectations people have in making better and healthier lifestyle choices become more obtainable. Levels One and Two can inhibit personal growth until you cross over into Level Three, and definitely Level Four. The lower two levels that feed on short term happiness is superficial, because in a way it’s not happiness in the truest sense. It resembles a mirage more than reality. As Jim Morrison from The Doors said, “break on through to the other side.” That other side is true happiness.

by John Connor, CNC

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To Your Happiness and Health

  There is a correlation between happiness and health. In fact, there are four distinct levels of happiness that are directly involved in yo...