My Goal This Year: Become The Happiest I’ve Ever Been In My Life (And How You Can Too!)

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Become my happiest self – happier than I have ever been in my life. That’s the goal I set for myself on January 1st this year. Now, I am not huge on New Year resolutions because usually I make a laundry list of goals that I would like to get done, and then I don’t get them done because it is too much and we forget and etc. So this year I decided to just focus on the ONE thing that I believe will improve everything else in my life as well by doing it: my happiness. I’d rather do ONE amazing thing than 1,000 mediocre things.

My goal for my happiness journey this year is not quite as simple as it seems. It precedes some bigger and deeper questions. How do you become your happiest? What is happiness and what brings more of it into your life?

I am taking a multiple pronged approach to optimal happiness. There are a few major categories that are scientifically backed in research to bring about happiness which I focus on improving:

The first one is doing what I love every day. Life is not about doing what is easiest and just lounging around all day. It’s not about playing it safe and taking the “normal” route. It is about pushing yourself to do something meaningful and worth doing in your life. It is about trying new things, meeting new people, helping others, and committing yourself to something that is bigger than yourself. For me right now, that is this blog and Life Tools. For those of you who don’t know, Life Tools is an online company and community I started to help each other naturally become happier and healthier for a higher quality of life. I love this mission and this is what I want to do with my time, energy, and passion. This is what I am here for and I know that I can help many, many people become happier and healthier, and live better lives. So, I do this every day. A lot. My passion comes from my WHY! So first step for you: find something that is bigger than yourself, be it a mission, a passion, or anything else that can help yourself and others, and make the world a better place. Make sure you love it and DO IT! Go all in! This will fill your life up with so much meaning and energy. You will have a huge reason to get up in the morning and your life will feel on track. You will know it is right because things will flow. From meaning, you find a deeper happiness and satisfaction in yourself and life.

Second area of my life that I’m improving is my health. Yep! Happiness and health are so interrelated that I’d actually venture to say they are the same thing. When you have a stomach ache or the flu or pain, do you feel happy? Exactly. It is much harder. I don’t think that you can have one without the other – at least not optimally. So this year I am focusing on becoming my healthiest to ultimately become my happiest. This means eating well, fixing nutritional deficiencies (through diet and supplementation), taking care of my body by stretching and staying active (such as riding my bike instead of driving a car), finding any hidden food allergies, having a calming morning routine, stopping and relaxing when I feel stressed, etc. There will be plenty of future articles on all of this! 🙂 Your brain and your body are one, and it is time we started taking care of it! So the first step for you in this area is to focus on eating a healthy diet with plenty of REAL food, and moving your body every day. You can do other things, but the simpler you keep it, the more likely you will stick to it. Once you’ve got this down, you can add more like looking for hidden inflammation and food allergies, balancing your hormones, supplementation, meditation, etc. I believe that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle is the 80/20 of health (what is the 80/20 principle?).

The next area of life that I’m improving is my social life. An active social life is SO important for optimal happiness, and it is something that I was definitely been lacking in for a few years. Just keeping yourself from being isolated and alone all the time is important and has been proven to dramatically reduce stress and anxiety levels. I most definitely learned that the hard way. But you don’t have to! For my social life, I have joined a few local groups where I am able to meet new people and make friends. I also plan on doing some volunteering at places I find interesting and enjoyable, or that I feel passion to help with. My business, Life Tools, has also been great for my social life since I am part of a few different associations and groups that meet up at various times throughout the month. I also started my own Life Tools Community group which I believe will become very successful and fun, since it is focused on helping each other become happier and healthier. There is no end to what you can do to bring more people and social events into your life. I am probably going to join and start a few more groups, and do a few more things as I continue to gain momentum, which I will write more about soon! So the first step for you in this area is to get social by joining a group, team, club, event, or getting a job that is social, etc. (NOT a cult though!). Just get yourself out there and get the ball rolling. The more you do it, the more people you will meet and the more events you will go to and get invited to, and the more people you will meet and become friends with, and on and on. Just start. This one is a compounding effect. 🙂

The fourth area of life I am focusing on is putting extra time, effort, and attention into those important people in my life. Looking back on my life, I want to remember the times when I did crazy, fun, amazing things with the people I love the most. I am still improving in this area of course, but what I have learned so far is that if you have a good, caring, and loving relationship with your spouse, kids, family, etc., your whole life feels so much happier and brighter. If you are happy within your romantic relationship, you feel much happier in your life as well. If you are in harmonious relationships with your kids and extended family, your own happiness levels are going to be harmonious too. By kicking out toxic, stressful people and only focusing on those amazing and wonderful people in your life, your quality of living will skyrocket! You will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders and you will feel much happier overall. Maybe because of less stress and more fun with each other. So the first step for you is to identify all of the amazing people in your life who you truly love and appreciate, and make sure they know you love them! Put extra time, attention, and effort into these relationships, and enjoy life with them. Even if they are far away, call them! Take a road trip to go see them. Whatever, but don’t let these important relationships fade. No excuses. Also, make a list of anyone who is toxic and stop having relationships with them as soon as possible. These people drain you of your energy, health, and happiness and you don’t need them in your life (unless you enjoy negativity, stress, and rapid aging).

The next area of my life that I am improving is focusing and simplifying my life and myself. I put these two together because I think that you can’t really have one without the other. How do you simplify your life without focusing on what you want and need? How to you focus on something without simplifying the process and simplifying your life around your focus? I have been pretty good so far this year about focusing and simplifying things – not necessarily on purpose, but I think a lot of my focusing and simplifying actually came from the changes above I am making in my life and in myself. Life is much more peaceful now, and I know what I need to do, and I know what I want. I don’t own much, but I’m getting rid of most of what I own because I don’t need it – and somewhat by accident I recently found out that I actually don’t even notice when most of my belongings are gone or inaccessible. It made no difference in the quality of my life whatsoever. Once you know these things, life becomes much more interesting and enjoyable. So the first step for you is to make a list of what (and who) is truly important to you in your life. Focus your time, energy, and attention into those things and people. Reduce your time, attention, and energy on pretty much all other things. It really is this simple. However, it does not mean that actually doing this is easy. Execution is the hardest part because it is much easier said than done. But it is something that anyone can achieve if they want a happier life, and to become happier within themselves.

The last area of my life that I’m improving is spending time relaxing and rejuvenating. You can’t work every second of every day. That’s why we need sleep – so that our bodies and minds can rest. So I am focusing on getting enough sleep, doing things that I enjoy that also help me relax (such as hiking or songwriting), and stopping whatever I am doing and taking a break when I feel stressed out or anxious. No one can do their best or most efficient work when they are in this state of mind. It is also really bad for you – kind of like drinking a soda or something. If you feel anxious and stressed out, you must learn to control this. It may sound hard to do, but if you can get good at just pausing and stepping back for a breather, this will become simple. For example, when I am working on my business and I start feeling uptight and anxious, I stop and do something relaxing until I feel better. Usually, I only need about 10 minutes to feel better again. It doesn’t really matter what I do in that ten minutes as long as it is enjoyable and relaxing – sometimes I take a walk outside, other times I do some gardening, sometimes I take a warm shower, other times I call someone I love and just talk, and sometimes I just read a book. The important part is just taking this time to relax and come down from this state of high stress and anxiety. The problem is that most people don’t take that ten minutes, and carry that anxiety around with them for the rest of the day, and they bring it home with them to the people they love. This is not the kind of pattern you want going on in your life (especially since you want to focus extra love, time, and attention on your loved ones, not extra stress, fights, and anxiety). So the first step for you is to monitor your feelings and notice when you are feeling stressed and uptight. Once you are able to identify this, you can practice taking breaks to relax and get yourself back into a better mindset. I know that this can be hard for many people, especially at work and places that don’t approve of you taking “unnecessary” time away from your work. Luckily, there are ways around this and if you just bring a little creativity to the table you will still be able to do it. I’m not saying be lazy at your job and try to do nothing; I’m saying when you are anxious and stressed out, take the time you need to reset or else your whole day will go down the anxiety toilet! If you need a break you need a break.

So, this is what I have been doing so far! If you plan on implementing these things above, don’t try to do this all at once – just do it as it comes. I am not trying to accomplish major, specific, set goals towards any of these areas above. My goal instead is to just improve my happiness and health every day. I spend time learning about happiness from experience and other sources, and any time I see an opportunity in line with my happiness journey, I jump on it. I say no to everything else. I can tell you that lately I have been feeling happier than I have felt in a long time, so what I am doing is definitely working! I’ll keep you updated on my happiest-happiness journey as the year continues, and hopefully you can learn from it as well!

Is Depression A Prozac Deficiency?

Hey guys! This is an article from Life Tools, but it bears repeating so I am posting it here as well. Enjoy! 🙂


Depression is the leading cause of disability affecting more than 1.1 billion people worldwide. According to Mark Hyman, M.D, “More than 40 million people have anxiety, and more than 20 million people have depression”. Millions of people each year use pharmaceutical antidepressant medicine for their depression. Yet, more people than ever are now depressed. Mark Hyman M.D. goes on to explain that one in ten Americans takes an antidepressant, and the use of antidepressants has tripled in the last ten years. In fact, the rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women in their 30s and 40s is extremely high. One out of every four middle aged woman is taking an antidepressant. That is 25% of middle aged women. With so many people taking antidepressants to treat their symptoms, you would think that depression rates would be going down. If antidepressants are as effective as they say they are, then why aren’t people getting better from them? Why do these people still feel depressed when they are supposed to be feeling better? And why isn’t anyone asking how effective these drugs truly are?

To start with, we all know that there are some undesirable side effects to pharmaceutical antidepressants. Some cause dry mouth, blurry vision, constipation, sedation, lightheadedness, and sexual disfunction. They can also slow the rhythm of the heart, and can therefore result in death in the event of an overdose. Other antidepressants can cause a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure that is accompanied by a severe headache. Yet others can cause nausea, headaches, anxiety, restlessness, weight gain, fatigue, loss of mental abilities, and trouble sleeping. On top of this, eighty six percent of people taking antidepressants experience unpleasant side effects. These unwanted side effects have been justified by proclaiming that they are worth-it because the drug is effective in curing depression. Unfortunately, this is also a misconception. According to Mark Hyman, M.D., most patients who take antidepressants either don’t respond or have only a partial response. In fact, success is considered a 50% improvement in half the symptoms. And this minimal result is achieved in less than half of the patients taking these medications. This is a pretty dismal record in anyone’s book. Unfortunately, the public still believes in the effectiveness of these drugs because drug companies selectively publish studies on antidepressants. The New England Journal of Medicine stated that the pharmaceutical companies publish nearly all the studies that show benefit and almost none of the studies that show they don’t work. This kind of underreporting and deception warps our view, leading us to think that their antidepressants work to cure depression when realistically they don’t. They’re more like a band-aid.

Is depression a Prozac deficiency? Is ADHD a Ritalin deficiency? Is Alzheimer’s an Aricept deficiency? Of course not. Yet the use of these drugs is skyrocketing. According to trends in psychotropic medication use among U.S. adults, psychiatric or psychotropic medications are the number-two selling class of prescription drugs, after cholesterol medication. The rate of increase in the use of psychiatric medications in the last decade is huge (such as 1,000% increase in the use of stimulant medication in children). Yet, as we discussed above, these medications don’t really work. These drugs don’t cure the problem, they cover over the symptoms. So why not look for alternatives? There is always more than one way to do things in life, and fixing your psychiatric difficulties is not an exception. In fact, I am arguing that maybe all of these mental illnesses are actually the noticeable results of deeper issues in the body. There is an answer to brain problems, but it is not more drugs or psychotherapy. Although these tools can be a helpful bridge during your recovery, they won’t provide long-term solutions.

The answer to fix our mental illnesses is in our bodies. Brain function is directly influenced by what you eat, and by nutritional deficiencies, allergens, infections, toxins, lifestyle, and stress. Mental health disorders such as “depression” and “anxiety” are simply names of common responses our bodies have to a variety of insults and deficiencies. Unfortunately, our current healthcare follows a 100% accuracy, 0% validity system. It provides a perfect way to describe symptoms, but has nothing to tell us about the underlying biology for what causes them. For example, being labeled ‘clinically depressed’ explains all of the symptoms of someone who is depressed, yet it does not explain why they are depressed or how they became depressed. Their depression may have been the result of a multitude of causes, for example, “folate or B6 or B12 deficiency, low thyroid function, brain allergies (reactions to food that can take many forms, including mood disorders, ADD, autism, insomnia, and just plain brain fog), an autoimmune response to gluten, that inflames the brain, mercury poisoning, abnormal proteins called gluteo- or caseomorphins from poorly digested food that alter brain chemistry, brain inflammation from a hidden infection, blood sugar imbalances, low testosterone or other sex hormones, a deficiency of omega-3 fats, or adrenal gland dysfunction from excessive stress, etc.” (Mark Hyman, M.D.). All of these body issues can result in depression. How can you fix anything before you know what is wrong? You can’t – yet that’s what modern medicine does today by diagnosing the symptoms and assigning a drug. In reality, mental illness subjective for each person. All psychiatric illnesses are results and symptoms of deeper physical problems.

The future of medicine is personalized treatment, not “one size fits all”. The outdated method of naming a disease and then assigning a drug to fix it clearly isn’t working. This problem is a direct consequence of the myth of diagnosis. Doctors are trained to name the disease, and then assign a medication to ‘treat’ it. But if the causes of a disease can be radically different for each person, why should we believe that a “one size fits all” prescription of medications would work to treat those underlying causes of the disease? For example, two people might go to a doctor both complaining of a bad headache. One gets headaches because she drinks too much wine. The other gets headaches because he keeps getting hit over the head with the wine bottle! They both have the same symptoms of a headache, but they have very different reasons for their headaches – and therefore, very different treatments. Just giving these patients Motrin or pain medication will not solve the underlying problem. One needs to drink less and the other needs to stop getting hit in the head!

Medications can be lifesaving and are incredibly useful if given in the right dose, for the right reason, at the right time, for the right reason. The problem in medical practice today is that their only tools are medications. This means that the best or right treatment for any particular condition may be ignored, because all that doctors have studied and used are medications. Our goal in medicine should be to find the right cure for each person, without prejudice, whether it is a drug, a nutrient, diet change, detoxification, a hormone, exercise, etc. For example, patients might just need a vitamin to cure a B6 nutritional deficiency causing their depression instead of a harsh antidepressant drug.

We need a completely different approach to address mental illness. It starts with your lifestyle and your body.This includes living a physically active life with social interaction and quality relationships. It also includes optimizing nutrition, balancing your hormones, cooling off inflammation, fixing digestion problems, detoxifying your body, boosting your energy metabolism, and calming your mind. In essence, it basically means that it is time to get healthy. This country is so unhealthy that we don’t even realize how bad we were feeling until we feel better again. If you keep your body healthy by doing these things, and also live a life that makes you feel happy, you will be healthy.  You will not be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia, etc. because you are taking care of your body, mind and soul. This is the holistic approach to treating mental illness, and it is extremely effective – especially compared to the harsh drugs used to “treat” these disorders. This approach addresses the root causes of your mental issues and heals you from the inside out.

If you are suffering from some kind of mental illness or difficulty, you should consult a high-quality holistic or naturopathic doctor who can help identify exactly what you need to do to fix the underlying problem, not just the symptoms. They also will be able to refer natural solutions to you for your depression, anxiety, stress, and much more. There are so many amazing natural supplements to help with mental illness and depression that are much more effective than pharmaceutical antidepressants and have fewer side effects. I also suggest using Life Tools as a resource. We are a community first and foremost. Our mission as a community and company is to help each other and the world become naturally happier and healthier to live a higher quality life. We have a Life Tools Community on Facebook where you can learn more about natural health and happiness for less stress, better sleep, and a better life. We also offer natural products that help people become happier and healthier in their lives, such as Peace of Mind Natural Blend, which is a natural supplement for less stress and better sleep. It is a harmonious blend of herbs and vitamins that also replenish your nutritional deficiencies and help you feel good while doing it. Like Dr. Mark Hyman says, “You can sit on a tack and take all the pain killers you want, but it is still going to hurt until you remove the tack”. Peace of Mind Blend removes the tack. Between recharging your body with the vitamins you need and the herbal comfort from our special blend, Peace of Mind Natural Blend will help you permanently reduce (or even eliminate) stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase your energy and greatly improve your sleep. Many people have enjoyed taking the Blend as a safer and more effective natural alternative to harsh antidepressant drugs.

Depression is not a Prozac deficiency, and it is time that we start finding real solutions – not just band-aids – so that we can become our happiest and healthiest together. Here at Life Tools, we want to address this disconnect to help make our community and our world a naturally happier and healthier place. If you would like to help with our mission, then please join us and share this article!

 

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Sources:

Demyttenaere, K. WHO World Mental Health Survey Consortium. 2004.

Hicks, MD. 50 Signs of Mental Illness. Yale University Press, 2005. pp. 104.

Hyman, MD. The Ultramind Solution. Scribner, 2008. pp. 11, 42, & 47.

Paulose and Ram, R. “Trends in psychotropic medication use among U.S. adults.”

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf, vol. 5, 2007, pp. 70.

Turner, H. “Selective publication of antidepressant trials and its influence on apparent

efficiacy.” N Engl Med, vol. 3, 2008. pp. 60.


I think that this post could help thousands of people realize that defeating depression for good is an option if they use natural, holistic principles. I have been wonderful proof of that. Please feel free to share this article with others and let’s make this world a better, happier, and healthier place!
To living your happiest life,
-Alex