Healthy Community = Healthy You

“It’s hard to lead a healthy life if you don’t live in a healthy community,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation . It sure is hard. Personally, I plan to live for a long, happy time and want an environment that supports this intent.

The County Health Rankings, now in their second year, show us that where we live matters to our health. The health of a community depends on many different factors – ranging from individual health behaviors, education and jobs, to quality of health care, to the environment. This collection of 50 reports – one per state – helps community leaders see that where we live, learn, work, and play influences how healthy we are and how long we live.

This is not a dry, data wonky website. It is a vibrant interactive space with stories about what counties around the  country have done to improve health.

It offers action steps about how to get people involved.

There are guides too:

How healthy is your county? How healthy could it be?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is collaborating with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to develop these Rankings for each state’s counties.

Happiness is Underrated

There is a large and growing body of empirical literature shows that people who are happier achieve better life outcomes, including financial success, supportive relationships, good mental health, effective coping, and even good physical health and longevity.  Now that’s some happy news. Moreover, prospective and longitudinal studies show that happiness often precedes and predicts these positive outcomes rather than simply resulting from them.  So happiness or feeling good helps position people for other good things in life.

We are not talking bout the giddy rush of happiness that comes with a new relationship or an awesome new job offer, but rather the profound and deep sense of happiness that could be described as fundamental contentment and gratitude for one’s life. People who experience frequent positive emotions grow more satisfied not simply because they enjoy themselves, but because they build resources that help deal with a wide range of life’s challenges. Improvements in material wealth and living circumstances increase life-satisfaction, also produce relatively few positive emotions.  So money does not buy happiness. It might provide a way to access things that do lead to happiness, but many of life’s pleasures are free. Like the public park in spring, verdant and alive with birds, bugs and people.

While we might want it all, a good living, a comfortable home and to be happy turns out  it is important regularly experience positive motions.  Experiences in life that bring  joy  or interesting are what start the process of exploring, learning, connecting, and ultimately building new resources. Those resources can later improve one’s life, offering up new opportunities for enjoyment and resource building. So go explore, see what you find, you might just discover new resources within like, joy and gratitude.

Best Career Advice: Be proud of who you are

Kasey Perry is executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and a colleague who was recently featured in the Clarion Ledger. Asked about the best career advice she received, she had some wise words to share, thanks to her parents. “Be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. Be proud of who you are and hold your own.” This seems to be working for her, in the past year the Madison County Chamber of Commerce there are 125 new members and a $70,000 increase in their fundraising efforts. That’s during these challenging economic times.

So here my challenge to you, how can you take the best career advice you have received and put it to good use?

Astound Yourself

“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Thomas A. Edison

Where are you holding back? For each of us there is something we hesitate to address, avoid or otherwise ignore, and that keeps up from moving towards making more of our potential. It takes courage to let go and move forward. Be brave today.

Set Goals to Be Ready to Achieve

A clear plan lets you know what to do in order to achieve your desired outcomes and to make your vision a reality.  Goals serve three primary purposes. They direct your efforts, attention and resources towards goal-relevant activities and away from goal-irrelevant ones. They energize you. More important goals lead to greater effort than lower level goals; “put your money where your mouth is”. Finally goals affect your persistence, if you really want IT you’ll keep trying, correcting and moving forward until you get what you want or decide it is no longer important relative to your vision.  To spell out a clear plan create SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, Time-lined).

  • Specific: Being specific about the details of what and how (your actions and behaviors) is crucial because it gives you a lighted path to follow.
  • Measurable: Measurable goals identifies when success is attained.
  • Action-based:  The actions or behaviors that you want to be doing on a consistent basis in 3 months. Each week, you can take new incremental steps that will to you move closer and closer to your goals. Gradual change leads to lasting change.
  • Realistic: If your goal is realistic, success will follow. Quick wins and victories are important. Being successful at achieving one goal helps you to move forward with other goals. You don’t need to do it all at once.
  • Time-lined: Being specific about the details of what, how and when is crucial because it gives you a timeline in which to accomplish the goal. Set goals in 3- month periods to keep moving towards your vision.  At least monthly, check your progress toward your goals to celebrate your achievements (big and small) and readjust if they are not challenging enough, are too difficult at a point in time, or if a major disruption emerges.

Example of a vision and related SMART goals

My Vision: My fitness business is thriving, with full classes at least 4 times a day. “Record keeping is a bear” to keep up with so many students. Many people are benefiting from enjoying their experience at my fitness studio and tell others about this. I have help in the studio teaching and feel confident to leave “my baby” so that I can balance my life with friends, music, art and my family. I feel good about myself and share that with others.
My Motivators: It feels good to know what I am here for, it reminds me to stay connected. I want to keep my word to myself and others.
My Resources: Joy, self-expression, love, freedom & independence, integrity. Knowing what I am good at, I am experienced and have trained many teachers. My academic degree. I am good at writing, intuitive, and at seeing the potential in others. My enthusiasm and sense of inspiration. I want to live out my values
My Challenges: My confidence wavers. Specter of depression. ADD tendencies. Can be cautious/tentative. Cycle through emotions, up and down.
Strategies I use to address challenges: Not to take everything personally. Living out my values. Reach out to colleagues. Remind myself of my strengths. Taking time to be proactive and attending to deadlines.
3-month Goals 

1.     I have completed my advanced certification by September 1.

2.     Attendance at the studio has increased two-fold (10 students per class average) by August 30.

3.     Twice a week I am playing with my band.

4.     Once a week I am doing partner yoga with my husband.

5. Three time a month I am attending professional networking events.