January 23, 2017

10 Tips for Pursuing Health and Happiness

Creating Margin in Life for What You Want

by Rob Fischer

The pursuit of health and happiness is woven into the fabric of the American psyche. Our Declaration of Independence lists life and the pursuit of happiness as “unalienable rights.” What we tend to forget, however, is that “liberty” is also listed among those rights. What that means is that we are free to pursue these rights, but they are neither owed us, nor handed to us. We must pursue them.

As a Time Magazine article recently pointed out, “Americans are free to pursue happiness [and health], but there’s no guarantee we’ll achieve it.”[1] The amount of stress most Americans find themselves slaves to is solid evidence that we are not achieving a quality of life (health) or happiness that we desire.

The American Institute of Stress reports that “75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.” They conclude that stress is America’s number one health problem.[2] Naturally, stress squelches our happiness too.

10 tips for pursuing health and happinessThe Key to Health and Happiness

Unfortunately, many of us have slipped into an entitlement mentality believing that values like health and happiness are owed us. Therefore, when deprived of these, we feel victimized and look for someone else to blame.

In his best-selling book, Margin, Dr. Richard A. Swenson, MD writes, “The conditions of modern-day living devour margin.”[3] As a result, we are like the strings on a piano that have been strung too tight, ready to snap.

We need margin in our lives in order to be free to pursue health and happiness. The key to achieving margin is to take personal responsibility. No one else can give you margin. Only you can create margin in your life. So, when it comes to pursuing health and happiness, the buck stops with you and me. Are you up for the challenge?

Tips for Pursuing Health and Happiness

1. Check your definition of “happiness.”

How do you define “happiness?” If happiness means owning a new $25,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle, what happens 18 months into your $500-per-month payments when you lose your job? Suddenly, what was intended to bring you happiness becomes a millstone around your neck!

Or if you define happiness as going on a lavish cruise, what happens when a dental emergency occurs diverting the cruise funds to your teeth? Can you still be happy because you had funds set aside to cover your dental work?

Be careful how you define happiness. Don’t set yourself up for stress, anxiety, or depression by setting unrealistic goals, or giving temporal things too much attention. Most people find deeper, richer happiness in things that are not temporal like relationships.

It’s also important to understand that for many people, a sense of meaning and happiness in life overlap. Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. And to find them you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself and to think greater than yourself.

2. Invest in your relationships.

Relationships gone awry cause stress like nothing else in our lives. The stress of a divorce or other broken relationship can be all-consuming affecting your health, finances, emotions, productivity, and happiness profoundly.

We tend to take relationships for granted. Instead, consider how you can make positive investments in your relationships daily. Enjoy others and be kind, caring and loving. Forgive and don’t hold grudges.

Also, take inventory of your relationship with God. Where do you stand with Him? Peace with God leads to peace with others. Actively pursue a growing relationship with Him. That’s what He desires from you.[4]

3. Spend time daily in prayer and meditation.

We go through life so rapidly at times that we don’t have time to come up for air. Slow down for 20 minutes (or you set the time frame) every morning or evening to reflect on your day and your relationships.

Praying (conversing with God) and meditating (reflecting) can help you weed out the unimportant and trivial and focus on what matters. You may also be amazed at the effectiveness of prayer and meditation to problem-solve.

4. Do nothing in excess.

Interestingly, conditions like gout were once only diseases of the rich. As one of the richest nations in the world, we lavish excess on ourselves. Especially the younger generations have no connection or experience with the Great Depression or going without the essentials of life.

As a result, we drink too much alcohol, we eat too much—and too much of the wrong things, we lounge around too much, we spend too much…you get the picture! We’ve established a culture of excessive bad habits. Bad habits own you. You don’t own them.

5. Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night.

Many foolishly view sleep as a necessary evil, or something only for the weak. If you find yourself boasting to others that you can get by on four or five hours of sleep at night, you’re both fooling yourself and killing yourself.

Most Americans live sleep-deprived lives. This seriously jeopardizes our physical and emotional well-being, elevates our stress levels, reduces productivity, hinders creativity, and even harms our relationships.

Positive-ThinkingThe National Sleep Foundation impresses on us the need for around eight hours of sleep each night. Also, it’s important to try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day to establish your circadian rhythm.[5]

6. Practice only wholesome thoughts and reject negativity.

Our thoughts and words are very powerful tools. They either destroy or build up. Again, we must master them, or they will master us.

Take inventory of your thoughts and words for a day. What do you think about? How much time do you spend rehearsing an altercation before it even happens? How much time do you devote to replaying old tapes from an unpleasant exchange with another person? Scrub your mind of those thoughts and think about positive, wholesome things.

What is coming out of your mouth? Get rid of complaining, gossip, anger, foul or sordid language. Instead, speak kindly to others. Be courteous and gracious with your words. Express gratitude and positivity whenever possible.

no act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted7. Perform random acts of kindness.

The unhappiest people in the world tend to be those who think “it’s all about them.” Generally, the more we can take the focus off ourselves and tend to others’ needs, the happier we’ll be.

Make it a game to look for ways to bless others each day. Especially do this in your family and with those you are closest to. We tend to take them for granted and often treat them more poorly than we would ever think of treating a stranger.

A random act of kindness could be something as simple as washing the dishes without being asked. Buy someone’s coffee. Defer to someone else in traffic. Hold the door open for others, etc.

8. Develop healthy eating habits.

Eat primarily whole foods, avoiding prepackaged, processed and foods. Choose smaller helpings at mealtimes. Don’t skip breakfast, lunch or dinner. Plan ahead so you’re not eating junk food on the run two hours later than you’d normally eat.

Never let yourself get famished—or too full. When you’re super-hungry, you choose the wrong foods and eat too much. Stop when you’re comfortably full. You should never have to unbutton your pants!

Barton Publishing Healthy FOOD PLATEHere is Barton Publishing’s lean, healthy food platter to follow that combines raw and cooked food:

  • Eat 35-50% protein and healthy fats.
  • Eat 35-40% veggies. Go ahead and pile on the green stuff. For example, eat a salad BEFORE you have a slice of pizza.
  • Whole grains should only be 5-15% of your total intake.
  • Fruits should only be between 5-10% of your diet.
  • Organic dairy products can be consumed up to 10% of your total intake.

9. Drink plenty of water.

No other beverage can substitute water. Drinking 8 cups of coffee does not equate to 8 glasses of water. Your body needs (craves) water to function properly. According to Medical Daily, as many as 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration.[6]

Water is necessary for nearly all bodily functions. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartrate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Skin problems
  • And fuzzy-headedness.[7]

10. Stay physically active.

Your body was designed to move! Regular physical activity is a great equalizer from a health and happiness standpoint. Exercising four to five days a week for at least 30 minutes helps us build other healthy habits in our lives like: eating properly, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking enough water, sleeping well at night, positive outlook, and so on.
Physical fitness has a profound impact on our life and therefore our happiness.

What are you doing to pursue your health and happiness? As a result of reading this article, what one thing will you do differently today?

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.




[1] Jeffrey Kluger, “The Happiness of Pursuit,” Time Magazine, July 8, 2013, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2146449,00.html.
[2] The American Institute of Stress, “America’s #1 Health Problem,” nd, http://www.stress.org/americas-1-health-problem/.
[3] Richard A. Swenson, MD, “Margin—Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), p. 13.
[4] See Micah 6:8 and Jeremiah 9:23-24.
[5] National Sleep Foundation, “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” nd, https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need.
[6] John Ericson, “75% of Americans May Suffer from Chronic Dehydration, According to Doctors,” Medical Daily, July 3, 2013, http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393.
[7] Anna Fleet, “The Top 10 Signs of Dehydration,” Active Beat, April 10, 2015, http://www.activebeat.co/diet-nutrition/the-top-10-signs-of-dehydration/10/.

Free Yourself From MS Naturally

Natural, safe and effective alternatives to the toxic conventional medicine

by Amanda Box

Being diagnosed with any disease is devastating. It can dash dreams, rob you of your joy and leave you in a state of uncertainty for your future. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that devastates thousands of lives every year. It is a disease in which your body literally turns on itself and begins attacking the protective coating of your nerve cells in the brain and spinal column.

This protective coating is called myelin. When an autoimmune disease like MS damages the waxy, protective myelin, the nerves begin to disintegrate over time. When this occurs, MS symptoms begin to manifest such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness and tingling of limbs
  • Balance problems
  • Tremors
  • Blurred vision

MS beginning symptomsMultiple sclerosis manifests in 4 different ways:

  • Relapsing-remitting: This form comes and goes over time. Symptoms can be severe for a time but then disappear. About 85 percent of multiple sclerosis patients develop this form of MS.
  • Secondary-progressive: After the initial attack, symptoms do not subside and the disease worsens.
  • Primary-progressive: People who develop this form are typically older in age. They decline slowly, without many ups and downs.
  • Progressive relapsing: Symptoms progress slowly, but eventually worsen over time.

Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable. No one truly understands why one person’s MS manifests differently than someone else’s. The cause of MS is still unknown. However, many in alternative and integrative medicine believe that nutrition and many other environmental factors play a large role.

When treating MS, neurologists typically prescribe drugs that suppress the immune system. The hope in prescribing these anti-inflammatory drugs is that they will halt the autoimmune attack on the myelin and lessen MS symptoms. However, these drugs have terrible side effects and often do more harm than good.

Though the initial diagnosis of MS can be crushing, there is hope! Fortunately, there are many natural, safe and effective alternatives to the toxic treatment methods offered by conventional medicine. 

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God’s Clean Eating Tips

by Amanda Box, N.D.

Perhaps you’ve never thought about it before, but its true. God cares about you. He cares if you are sick and He wants us to take care of our bodies. Yet what you eat is your choice. You have free will over what you put in your mouth. God cares what you eat, but He is not going dictate your every bite.

In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites specific dietary guidelines. Those principles do not apply to us today.

So why was God so specific about what the Israelites ate? I believe He cared about them and wanted them to be healthy! Think about it. There were millions of people living in the desert, wandering around with no running water or bathrooms. The conditions weren’t exactly sanitary. What if sickness broke out? It would have spread like wildfire! So God set up guidelines to help the Israelites avoid unwanted bacteria and keep their immune systems strong.

Most people have never taken the time to study and understand why God forbade specific foods and practices during that time. They are just happy to know they are no longer bound to these customs! They are free to eat their Cheetos and bacon without consequence.

Biblical Guidelines for Eating

America is definitely not the Garden of Eden. Much of what we eat in the West is a far cry from “farm to table” food. This is a far cry from what God designed for us to eat. Instead, we favor of genetically altered, enhanced, preserved, and processed foods.

There are several verses in the Bible that provide guidelines for eating. The most popular seems to be Deuteronomy 14.  God never forbid any plants for consumption. However, it is this chapter that considers which specific animals are clean to eat or not. The Israelites were forbidden to consume the following animals:f

  • Animals that “chew the cud,” but don’t have a divided hoof. This meant avoiding eating pigs, camels, and rabbits.
  • Creatures in the water that do not have both scales and fins. This eliminated eating fish without scales, such as catfish. It also excluded eating sea creatures without fins, such shrimp, crab, mussels and lobster.
  • Most birds were considered clean except the raven, vulture, eagle, falcon, owl, stork, heron, or bat.
  • Flying insects were considered unclean.

There is a lot of debate today around whether or not we should avoid these animals. Many animals are now “farmed” and are not caught in the wild anymore. Though some farming practices have improved our food, some have made things far worse. A lot has changed in 4000 years!

Many claim that God forbade eating these particular animals because they were scavengers. Scavengers eat garbage, which lends them to higher toxicity levels and overgrowths of bacteria. Shrimp, lobster, and crab are often called the insects of the sea. They feed on the bottom of the ocean and eat the flesh of dead fish and whatever else hits the ocean floor. Catfish and other fish without scales bottom feed, as well. They eat almost anything including other fish’s excrement.

The birds to avoid feed on dead animals, as well. So, of course, these birds are more likely to carry disease and parasites.

But, why avoid pork? Why should we give up our delicious bacon? Many argue it is because pigs can pass trichinosis to us through their meat. This parasitic infection can become a serious, and even life threatening problem for humans. It is also difficult to eliminate trichinosis from our bodies.

But, what if we raise pigs in a clean environment, virtually eliminating the chance of trichinosis? What if we fed them organic grains and other natural foods, instead of letting them feed on waste? Were pigs forbidden just because they are pigs, or because of the potential harm from contamination.

This is where I have to separate my opinion from those who strictly adhere to diets such as The Makers Diet, What Would Jesus Eat, and The Biblical Diet. I don’t agree that avoiding all the foods in Deuteronomy 14 is still necessary. This is because I believe it is “WHY” God forbade something that is important, not solely the WHAT.

Did God forbid high fructose corn syrup?  What about genetically modified organisms? Or better yet, cloned animals? Of course not. These things were not around thousands of years ago! But does that mean they are acceptable and considered healthy for us to eat? One could argue that because they are not mentioned, they are acceptable. But honestly, this is really missing the point.

The big picture here is that God set up guidelines for health. Although we are now not bound to those Old Testament principles anymore, we should take to heart why God was so specific. Under all those rules written in black and white, I believe lies a principle that rings true, even today: Eat clean foods.

Modern Day Clean Eating

Clean can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Telling your children to clean their room has an entirely different meaning than cleaning a surgical room in a hospital. Eating clean foods meant something entirely different to the ancient Israelites than what clean food means to us today.

In the Old Testament, God gave specific rules for cleanliness, both for the sake of ritual and health. Now, thanks to Jesus, we are no longer bound to these rituals. Eating God’s list of approved foods is now optional. Just read Acts 10:9-15:

It was about noon the next day. The men were on their journey and were approaching the city. Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry. He wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared, Peter had a vision. 11 He saw heaven open up. There he saw something that looked like a large sheet. It was being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It had all kinds of four-footed animals in it. It also had reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “No, Lord! I will not!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything that is not pure and ‘clean.’”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time. “Do not say anything is not pure that God has made ‘clean,’” it said.

Let me be clear in stating that I don’t believe adhering to Deuteronomy 14 diets are wrong. I believe they are very healthy and have brought many people both wellness and healing. However, I believe that God has made the “unclean” foods acceptable, as it states above.

modern day clean eating principlesSome may take advantage of this verse and say that all things are now considered clean. I have to disagree. This is where common sense and practical wisdom come into play. Personally, I understand the “why” behind the “what” in the list God gave the Israelites.

If the “why” is that those foods contained something that could make them sick, then we should take this principle and apply it to ALL foods. Even foods not listed and foods that have recently joined us in the last 50 years need to be measured against that guideline.

I avoid genetically modified foods, preservatives and artificial ingredients. I don’t consider them clean. They may not be tainted with bacteria, but I know they can make me very sick.

I believe a modern day Clean Diet adheres to these principles:

1. Eat foods in the form God designed them.

This means foods free of pesticides and genetic modifications. This also eliminates artificial ingredients and processed foods. Instead, shop at your local farmers market and health food stores. Or better yet, grow your own in a garden!

2. Eat only animals that are raised humanely in clean environments, free of chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics.

This not only applies to meat, but to eggs and dairy, as well! Look for words like free-range, pastured, grass fed, rBgh free, and organic on labels. These are always much healthier choices.

3. Avoid any food that incites an unnatural response in your body.

Sugar spikes your blood sugar, artificial ingredients can modify cell responses, and excess salt can raise your blood pressure. Even certain “healthyfoods can initiate a response based on your body’s allergies or intolerances. The right foods will make you feel great. They will never make you feel tired, bloated, or sick in any way.

4. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!

I can confidently say that nearly everything that God designed for you to eat, you also know how to pronounce. Those big words that sound like chemicals are usually just that! Read labels on everything from your bread to salad dressings. Chemical ingredients hide out everywhere!

5. Don’t overindulge. Moderation is always best!

Even clean and healthy foods can be overdone. For example, eating too much fruit can contribute to insulin resistance. Also, overindulging even with healthy foods can cause weight gain.

Adhering to these principles will not only keep your body clean and free from toxins, but also enhance your ability to fight off disease.

Clean Food Recipes

I don’t know about you, but my garden is currently overflowing with zucchini! This put me on the hunt for clean and healthy recipes to use up this versatile vegetable. I stumbled across this zucchini fritter recipe, and I’m happy I did. These fritters taste delicious and are packed full of healthy ingredients. This recipe is not set in stone. Feel free to experiment by adding other vegetables like shredded carrot, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes. I enjoy topping my fritters with a dollop of sour cream and a touch of hot sauce.

grain free zucchini frittersGrain Free Zucchini Fritters


  • 2 medium zucchini grated
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup almond flour or coconut flour
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying (I used 2 tablespoons coconut oil)


  1. Grate zucchini with a medium sized grater.
  2. Add salt and place shredded zucchini in a clean dish towel and squeeze to get as much liquid out of it as possible.
  3. Once squeezed place back in bowl and add beaten eggs, thinly sliced green onions, almond flour, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
  5. Once oil is shimmering, add spoonfuls of mixture in hot oil and fry until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Place on platter lined with paper towels to soak up any grease that sticks to the fritter and serve with sour cream or other condiment.

If you have ever eaten heirloom tomatoes, then you’ve noticed not only their beautiful array shapes and colors, but also their amazing flavor!  God sure got creative when he designed tomatoes! Heirloom tomatoes differ in that they come from seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some seeds have a history of 100-300 years! You can find heirloom tomatoes at your local farmers market.

This recipe utilizes these beautiful and tasty tomatoes in a delicious salad. If you can’t find heirlooms, any fresh tomatoes will do.

Heirloom Tomato Salad



  1. Lay sliced tomatoes onto a large, serving platter.
  2. Remove kernels from ear of corn, and spread evenly over tomatoes.
  3. Now sprinkle the plate of tomatoes evenly with the red onion, bacon, basil and blue cheese.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper. Drizzle the dressing evenly over the salad, and top with a bit more salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Though God has given us free will to eat as we please, we won’t be exempt from the consequences of bad food choices. God designed our bodies and he also designed natural foods specifically for those bodies. When we eat what God designed, foods that are natural and free from chemicals and toxins, we reap the benefit of health. When we eat what scientists and chemists designed as food, we reap weight gain and disease.  The choice is yours. Personally, I trust God’s food and I hope you will as well.



Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.
Grain Free Zucchini Fritters Recipe Adapted from slimpalate.com
Heirloom Tomato Salad Adapted from: laaloosh.com

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