For some reason on our quest for health and happiness, we tend to forget who we are and why we were put on this earth. We end up caught up in what other people might think, or if someone else will approve. We go through life hiding and covering up things we don’t want others to know about. We end up even keeping things from those closest to us.
Believe it or not, studies are now showing that wearing this mask can actually be detrimental to your health. One such study at the University of California showed that our bodies themselves (at a molecular level) need us to accept who we are. The study looked at 200 homosexual men over a period of five years, and concluded that those who chose to conceal their homosexuality were three times more likely to develop cancer or another serious disease.
This may be an extreme example, but research like this leads to the conclusion that for our immune systems to function most effectively, we need to live in harmony with ourselves, to be authentic; even if it may risk disappointing someone close to you. If those you love truly love you back, your relationship will only grow stronger by forgetting your ego and just being you.
Philosophers as far back as Aristotle have talked about our search for self-realization. In his view, each living being is like a seed that will grow into a unique plant. In order to achieve this growth, and achieve our full potential, we must go through this self-realization process.
Now the question is, "Will I be happier?" We don’t like the feeling of having our "status" threatened, but how can we be happy when what we are doing is inconsistent with our true values and goals? Why is it so difficult to free ourselves from the expectations of others?
One of the great human psychologists, Abraham Maslow, launched a study on this very question. Why are some people happier than others? Is it because they’re wealthier? Better looking? Happily married? Blessed by God? What is it?
Maslow’s conclusion (just like Aristotle’s), was that happier people are more "actualized" – that is, they have gone further in their self-realization. They accept themselves for who they are, and in turn are able to offer this acceptance to others.
This is the perfect cycle of action – your happiness is extended out to others making others happy as well, and when other people in your social group are happy, that cycles back to you for even more happiness! And since we can understand that more happiness equals more health, how can we go wrong? We all wear some type of disguise here and there, but having the courage to be ourselves is part of the living process, all the way to the cellular level.
My own personal rules for health and happiness:
1. Don’t let anyone steal your joy! That is your joy, and the only way someone will be able to take it from you is if you let them.
2. Don’t ever cause someone else’s joy to be diminished because of your thoughts, words or actions. This not only causes problems for them, but will always cycle right back to you.
3. Spend time in silent meditation. Even if it is only 10 minutes per day, if you’re consistent, it will change your life.