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/.

Got a Sweet Tooth?

This One’s For Your Sweet Tooth

Your sweet tooth has gotten you into lots of trouble over the years.

All those diets you abandoned for a slice of cake, all the extra calories you took in ‘just to have a taste of something sweet‘ before bed.

Where has it gotten you?

Into pants that are another size larger. Into your doctor’s office for another lecture. Into a body that you no longer enjoy.

Yes, sweet treats sure are tempting, but the life-long repercussions far outweigh the momentary pleasure.

To help you conquer your sweet tooth, I’ve identified the 5 sweet traps you should avoid, as well as a healthy substitute for each.

Sweet Trap #1: Candy

Nothing gets refined sugar circulating through your body quicker than a fistful of candy—and if you’re in the habit of eating candy daily then your body will crave it.

Candy has virtually no nutritional value, other than caloric energy, and will quickly end up stored on your body in the form of unwanted, annoying fat.

Try This: Swap your sickly-sweet candy out for a handful of unsalted nuts, a few pieces of unsweetened, dried fruit, or a small square of very dark chocolate (at least 72% cocoa content).

Sweet Trap #2: Baked Goods

Cake, cookies, brownies, pastries, donuts, and pies are popular vehicles for sugar consumption and satisfying your sweet tooth. While these may not taste as sweet as candy, the combination of refined sugar and white flour will spike your blood sugar just the same.

Very much like candy, regularly eating baked goods may become a habit. Break yourself of this and you’ll find the number on your scale going down rather than up.

Try This: Put down the cookie and reach for a piece of fresh, seasonal fruit. Fruit is nature’s candy, and is every bit as blissful as a slice of cake. Serving a beautiful fruit platter to guests can be as delightful as any baked treat.

Sweet Trap #3: Ice Cream

Nothing makes you feel as happy and carefree as a bowl of creamy ice cream…until that ice cream makes its permanent home on your waist. Very much like candy, ice cream has few nutritional benefits.

Try This: Let’s face it, cold, creamy and sweet makes a delicious combination. Create a healthy protein-packed ice cream with the recipe below.

Sweet Trap #4: Soda Pop

A regular can of soda pop contains the equivalent of 10 packets of sugar. That’s more sugar than you should consume in a week’s time!

Soda pop is something that you get into the habit of drinking, and do without thinking. The good news is that a craving habit can be broken and then replaced with something healthier.

Try This: Take soda pop out of your diet. Period. There are plenty of other, healthier, beverages available to you. Try the recipes for Spa Water below.

Sweet Trap #5: Blended Drinks

Smoothies, blended coffee drinks and milkshakes are all tempting sweet tooth treats, especially in hot summer months. Don’t give in to the temptation!

These items are even more deadly than most treats since they are consumed through a straw and don’t make you feel full. Let me assure you that even though you don’t feel full, like you would after a piece of cake, you’re still taking in a boatload of sugary calories.

Try This: Make your own healthy blended drinks at home by using natural sweeteners like stevia, or simply by using fruit. Take the ice cream recipe below, add non-fat milk and mix in the blender for a high protein milkshake.

Eliminating refined sugar from your diet will do so much for your health, as well as your weight.

A great thing to remember is that once you’ve fallen out of the habit of eating sugar, your body will no longer crave it.

This means that each day spent in discipline will bring you closer to the day that sugar no longer has a hold over you. Imagine how much slimmer and healthier you will be!

Eating healthy is half of the battle when it comes to fitness and wellness. The other, equally important, side is maintaining a regular, challenging exercise program.

For an exercise program to be challenging it must always be changing. That’s why my workouts are never the same.

Beyond Soda

You know that soda pop isn’t good for you…and yet you still drink it. I understand that plain water gets boring – especially when you’re having a party or gathering.

Use the recipes for “Spa Water” below and quickly turn plain water into an exciting and refreshing treat without added sugar or chemicals:

  • Citrus: Slice an orange, lemon, and lime into a large pitcher of water. Add ice, allow to chill for 1 hour before serving.
  • Raspberry Lime: Slice a lime into a large pitcher of water, add a handful of raspberries. Add ice, allow to chill for 1 hour before serving.
  • Strawberry Basil: Slice 10 strawberries into a large pitcher of water, add 5 leaves of basil. Add ice, allow to chill for 1 hour before serving.
  • Watermelon Rosemary: Place 1/2 cup of small watermelon chunks into a large pitcher of water, add two sprigs of rosemary. Add ice, allow to chill for 1 hour before serving.
  • Pineapple Mint: Place 1/2 cup of small pineapple chunks into a large pitcher of water, add 15 mint leaves. Add ice, allow to chill for 1 hour before serving.

Guilt-Free Strawberry Ice Cream

Here’s a recipe that allows you to indulge in something sweet, cold and creamy without the craving for a sugar rush. Non-fat Greek yogurt is packed with protein, which makes this delicious snack even more beneficial for your body. Feel free to add Stevia In The Raw to increase the sweetness as described below.

Here’s what you need…

  • 20 organic strawberries
  • 2 cups non fat Greek yogurt
  • optional *1/4 cup Stevia In The Raw*
  1. Wash and hull the strawberries. Mix in a blender until smooth.
  2. Add yogurt (and Stevia In The Raw, if using) and blend well.
  3. Pour into an ice cream maker and run until yogurt is frozen and creamy.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 87 calories, 0g fat, 53mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, and 13g protein.  Servings: 4

Motivate your friends, family and co-workers who have a sweet tooth of their own! Use the “comment” box below for healthy eating tips of your own or share these Sweet Traps article with your friends.


Nordine Zouareg is a former Mr. Universe, an International Fitness Coach, Speaker and Author of the book Mind Over Body: The Key to Lasting Weight Loss is All in Your Head! He offers world-class advice on health and fitness, inner balance and stress management, and achieving one’s full potential the inner keys to extraordinary performance. An inspiring message of hope and achievement, based on his own extraordinary story. For more information, visit: www.NordineZ.com

Dr. Saunders’ Kick The Habit Plan To Quit Smoking

Over a hundred years ago Mark Twain quipped, “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.”  The concept of quitting a habit is as old as people, but smoking is one habit that seems especially difficult to overcome.  I have patients who quit methamphetamines, heroin and alcohol, but cannot overcome the tobacco habit.  They tell me it is the hardest thing.

One patient was able to quit when he got throat cancer, but only because he hated the tracheostomy tube so much and knew he would never smoke again if he did not beat the cancer odds. Others with this same problem actually smoke through the tube!

The methods and ways people quit are varied, almost as the number of quitters.  Some medications are used, but these were mostly created for a different purpose. When drug testing was being done on these medications, the statistical analysis showed that a greater number of smokers quit in the active medicine group than in the placebo group.  The pharmaceutical company then decided to market this effect of the medicine instead of the intended use, such as anti-depressant.  There are patches, pills, electronic cigarettes, creams and all manner of physical assistance to help quit smoking.

Decision to Quit

Kicking the habit starts with a decision.  Many who are pushed from the outside will say they want to quit, but really want to continue smoking.  This decision must come from within.  When I counsel people in my office, I simply ask them what they want to do.  I then assess whether they are ready to start trying.  Those who have made a firm resolve to quit smoking find a successful way.

My grandfather was given cigarettes as part of his Navy rations during World War II.  At home, his wife did not like the smoke in the house, plus they had a son with asthma.  So, he decided just to postpone his usual smoking.  He would reach for a cigarette from his shirt pocket, take one out, look at it and say, “I’ll just wait a few minutes.”  He kept putting it off until after a few months went by he realized he had gone a full week without smoking.  He then took the cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and said, “No use just carrying these around…” threw them in the trash and never smoked again.

Dr. Manchester was a pediatrician who smoked and would counsel all of his young patients never to start smoking.  He tried to quit, but kept going back to it and felt like a hypocrite.  He paid for all sorts of programs, used all the medications and tried hundreds of times without success.  He felt so discouraged that he quit being a pediatrician and became a psychiatrist.  One day, he suffered a heart attack and ended up in the hospital.  As he was lying in the hospital bed, he hated being there so much he knew he would never smoke again just to avoid it — and he quit easily.


I had one patient, when the patches required a prescription, who was wearing a patch for many years.  We kept trying to wean him off, but he would come in for another round.  I do not know if he ever got off the patches, but at least he was not smoking.

Patches with nicotine in them are now available over-the-counter.  They are mostly helpful for those who really smoke for the nicotine, not for other reasons.  If you get shaky, nervous, jittery, and very irritable in the first several days after quitting, then this may be an option for you.  Those who can go a full day without these symptoms are less likely to benefit from patches.


There are many drugs available now to help with the smoking habit. If you are going to use these, then

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