Health and Happiness.

Reflection Questions

When someone asks you “What makes you happy?” does your answer differ from “What makes you healthy?”

Do you consider your health requirements essential and your happiness needs selfish and superfluous?

Or perhaps you rate health and happiness as equal and interdependent.

health happy

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related: Is Happiness a Choice?

111 thoughts on “Health and Happiness.

  1. I’d never considered this question before. I think when I was younger, good health was considered essential, and happiness was something that was sometimes experienced, mostly by luck. Now that I’m older, I consider them as equal and interdependent, mostly because of what I’ve learned about being happy and healthy as I’ve aged.

    Very thought-provoking question. Cheers

    1. Thank you for sharing your reflections Michael. Interesting how your answer was based on the chronology of your life. And as you became older (and wiser) the two have become interdependent.

      The question came to me yesterday, when someone asked how they could support my happiness, and I answered by understanding what keeps me healthy.

      I love those kind of conversations! The ones that keep your ideas sparking for 24 hours later. Which is what I’m hoping to do with this post. Keep the ideas sparking and the conversations flowing.

      Have a great night!

      1. I think the chronology of my life drives my understanding because I was taught as a young boy in America to look external to myself for answers. The education about what’s inside of a person was limited to health discussions, with a general comment that we all have emotions. It is the best kind of conversation! And what is the answer to their question? Do you need someone to support your happiness, or is that a delightful, hoped for option? Or is it essential for their happiness and well-being to believe they’re supporting your happiness?

        Sorry for a long counter-response, but yours is the best kind of question, one that helps peel back layers of thoughts and insights.


        1. Based on both personal and clinical experience, having the support of others really helps in the beginning, and at challenging points in the process. BUT once it becomes a daily habit, that’s self-reinforcing, you ultimately become your own motivator – no matter what’s happening around you.

          Extrinsic motivation in the beginning
          Intrinsic once health habit has caught on.

          BTW: I LOVE long answers! And deep questions like you’ve asked about how much do we need others to support our health & happiness habits.

          1. Your answer makes sense, if people have the wherewithal to understand that they can take what they feel and learn to motivate themselves. I think some personality types might struggle with that, but if you’re aware of it, maybe you can treat it as an obstacle, and not as a road-block. What’s most beautiful is when you can take the extrinsic motivation experience learned in one area and use it to create intrinsic motivation in another arena.

            Sorry, I’m not challenging your experiences, but thinking about some people that I’ve known. Thanks for indulging me.


  2. I took my health for granted when I was young. As I got older, I had was the stereotypical old people pains: sore knees, lack of stamina, getting out of breath after climbing stairs, etc. As a result, I started to lose my love of adventure and travel. When I lost over 150 lbs and got fit, all of the sudden, I felt young again. It is then that I learned that the feeling I mistook for feeling young was actually the feeling of being healthy and fit. I am now a much happier person because I am no longer limited by poor health and being unfit. I feel like I’m in a second childhood. It’s a wonderful feeling, and has changed my outlook on life dramatically.

    1. Your story is such an incredible testament to the powerful union of health and happiness. And how we have to personally experience it, to know it. Which is why, come rain, sleet, or snow, I carve a place for fitness and healthy eating into my day. Not because I want to, but because I have to. SO much of my smile is because of my health habits. That’s for sure!

  3. Health and happiness can be dependant for some. And some can still smile when health is not on their side. I think it up to our personality and character. Both are important obviously.

    But if health is not there can we remain happy ?

    1. Excellent point Bella! I believe that health is the foundation, and happiness is the house. And as we know from reality — houses built on sand do not last long.

  4. I really had to stop to think about these questions, which is what spurred me to type a comment. If I’m asked what makes me happy, I’m likely to list things like reading, writing, spending time with my sister, and being productive. At first glance, I wouldn’t consider those things that make me healthy, but I suppose they do, in a way. As someone fairly young (26), but who has had anxiety attacks for the last eight years, all of those things do contribute towards my mental health. And I could make a pretty strong argument that being productive also makes me physically healthier, because it causes me to be reasonably active – though, I could still stand to lose some weight!

    I would also say that I consider health requirements only slightly more essential than happiness requirements. I work as a nurse and I’ve seen people in terrible physical health who were only able to cope through finding what happiness they could, despite their condition. That said, without one’s health, one won’t be able to enjoy happiness indefinitely, either. Hence, I feel health requirements are somewhat more essential.

    Thank you for posting! I found these questions interesting and relevant, especially in today’s society where – as a millennial (depending on who you ask) – I can be grouped in a social class that is typically characterized as more indulgent/less practical.

    1. Great insights! I love how you took the time to really ponder your answer. I am of like mind. It is possible to have health and not happiness — yet it’s almost impossible to have (lasting) happiness without health.

      BTW: We have so much in common! I am a psychology professor in the collaborative nursing program at St. Clair College. Working with youth struggling with the pressures of life in their twenties, is the cornerstone of what I do. Helping them to achieve their full potential – in and out the classroom.

      Something I speak up in my TEDx talk called ‘Thriving Under Pressure’

      Thank you for your contribution to my blog post.
      Have a wonderful day!

  5. This is such an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever considered my health when thinking about striving for happiness. I’m going to be pondering this one. Thanks for sharing. ~ Blessings, KK

  6. What an interesting question. I’d like to think that both health and happiness are intertwined and that what makes me feel good is also good for me. When we treat our bodies with respect and eat well, it does have a flow on positive effect on our well being. Thought provoking to say the least.

    1. “What makes me feel good is also good for me.” So true Mariam. A walk in nature is good for the mind, body, and soul. Do it for your health, and your happiness benefits.

  7. Isn’t what makes you happy is almost always in contradiction of what makes you healthy?

    PS – Good post, these are the thought provoking posts which I hope to stumble time and again 🙂

    1. I always love a counterargument. Bring it on!

      True. Happiness is a contradiction to what makes you happy when it involves immediate gratification and reckless activities (overspending, drugs, booze). For example: A case of beer may make you happy for a night, but it certainly won’t make you healthy (or even happy) for the long term.

      On the other hand. Healthy pursuits via lasting, daily conscious choices (good food, proper sleep, deep connections, simple pleasures, time in nature, regular exercise) are more likely to lead to lasting joy and happiness.

      Redefine what makes you happy, and you’ll redefine what makes you happy.

      What do you think Mr. Tidbits? 🙂

      1. Well … I get your point … short-term happiness (pleasure) hampers the long term happiness (the real happiness)

        But are different kinds of happiness fungible? Maybe I get real happiness if I eat, say a donut, and I really enjoy it. Every time I eat a donut, my senses give me pleasure, and it is profound for me – this whole eating experience.

        Now, it’s not healthy, I get it – so i stop eating / or atleast reduce its consumption. I’m healthier, but i miss it – so i give up on some of my happiness for being healthy – now being healthy has its advantages – but it doesn’t make me happy in the sense in which I can feel it …

        So am I not “less happy” because I’m not doing something I like even though I’m healthier !!

  8. Health plays a huge role in how we feel. And speaking from a personal level of someone who suffered chronic illness through FMS a decade ago it affected the mood of my well-being..
    But that is not to say that we can not be happy and unwell at the same time..
    Happiness is a state of mind.. but often health and our states of mind go hand in hand..
    So both are linked to our Happy Genes..

    Wishing you a Happy week Andrea.. So ‘Happy’ to have caught your post today 🙂

  9. I always love hearing from you Sue. Thank you for sharing your reflections! Your own chronic illness gives you a unique take on the question. And encourages those of us blessed with good health, to not take it for granted. We are all working / striving / moving in the same direction. What differs is how we travel there. Today, I’m going for a 10K run up that hill! 🙂

  10. I don’t consider what makes me happy as being selfish- my kids and fur kid all make me happy. Not sure about healthy, but they do help my stress levels (all 3 of them, how can you be stressed when a 2 year old comes up and throws their arms around you?)
    I never really thought about this question but if you physically feel horrible, can you truly be happy?

    1. “If you feel horrible, can you truly happy?”

      You’re raised a lot of great questions yourself, including this one. As you can imagine, people with chronic health conditions such as MS, fibromyalgia, and brain injuries have to work twice (10 times) as hard as someone without health challenges. They can be happy for sure. But not as easily as someone without health challenges.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion!

      1. Great question Andrea. Time has taught me that happiness is an attitude and that happiness has a positive impact on health. I can be physically exhausted and in discomfort but I can be as happy or unhappy as I choose. I can get happiness from the simplest of things which raises my feel good ‘dolphins’ improving my overall health and wellbeing!!

  11. I love this, so much. And I believe it to be true. I turn 30 this summer, and I feel like I’m finally getting into the best shape of my life. I finally understand the importance of healthy food, exercise, vitamins, and more! I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in the summer of 2015, so I’ve been paying more attention to my mental health since that diagnosis, too. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Good for you Laura Beth! Fitness is a panacea for so many health challenges, including (especially) mental health challenges. (Almost) 30 looks beautiful on you. 🙂

  12. Interesting and true! I have always used the words joy and balanced well being as if synonymous, so I completely agree with you that health gives us the capacity to be happy and happiness supports our health.

  13. Hi Dr. Andrea,

    I’ve always believed happiness and health are connected and predicated on choice.
    If I were to separate them; Happiness occurs in the moments. Health begins in mind.

    1. Yes! —> “I’ve always believed happiness and health are connected and predicated on choice. “ Lightbulb moment! Thank you for sharing your insights Mel. 💡

  14. I have learned to completely separate health from happiness. I live with fibromyalgia which means daily pain and an excellent reason to excuse my attitude from being anything other than obstinate. So, I am extremely vigilant about my manners, tone, and the energy I bring into other’s lives as well as my own. I have found happiness despite being chronically ill. I am happy! Some need both, health and happiness. I have slowly learned you only need a desire to be happy to do it. ~Kim

    1. Your personal experience with fibromyalgia and how you consciously manage it always brings me to a place of gratitude.

      For my own health. For the health of my family. But most of all for the strength you model in the face of it.

      Day in. Day out. You Kim, are resilience personified.

        1. My sister Noelle also has a chronic disease. Originating from an aneurism at age 19. She fights every day to keep her mental and physical health above water. Losing her job, her marriage, her home, and many friends along the way. Many of my blog posts are love letters to her. She is my hero.

          Which is why I especially enjoy hearing how my writing inspired yours. Ultimately this is what blogging is all about. Encouragement, illumination, and connection.


  15. Well I never thought about it, but on stopping to do so… No, I don’t tend to think of my health when referring to if I am happy. Sometimes it feels like a polite thing to keep those separate, but I guess at least thinking on it internally could be a good thing too. 🙂 Thank you for making me think on it.
    By the way… I mentioned your blog in a recent post Bloggers Support Bloggers Award because I wanted others to know how supportive you are. I mentioned it in a section that is not part of the nomination because I know you are award and tag free. May God bless you for your heart for others.
    Here is a link to the post.

  16. For me I guess they kind of go hand in hand at the moment. After poor health and a particularly rough year I value things that better myself and make me healthier. I’ve never actually really thought about it though, what an engaging question!

    1. Sorry to hear about your rough year Anna. Equally emboldened by your pursuit of hidden positives. Don’t give up! Health & happiness happen once choice at a time. 💃🎉

  17. Both are much needed but yes good health will help you to get happiness. Because when you feel healthy, you automatically feel happy too. 😊

  18. Hi Dr. Andrea, I’ve got asked this question by several persons. The person who knows the importance of health will be happy if he/she is healthy. I think that one completes the other, in order words, they are interdependent.

  19. Mind body and spirit connections are prudent to our health and happiness.. I believe it is all inner connected and related more so than we are taught to believe! Great post 👍

  20. Great blog post!

    If you have good health – you can do anything in the life. But if you don’t have good health, then you can’t do what you like the most.

  21. I would definitely say that happiness is a choice. While some might be born happier than others that doesn’t mean unhappy people are forever unhappy. I have become more happier myself by staying motivated to be more healthier. It has definitely improved my life for the better.

  22. I have pondered the inner depths of my mind trying to answer this question, and when and how I did this was during the process of discovering my core values. Health and happiness continue to battle for the top-spot on my values list. I would ask myself, “can I be happy if I’m not healthy?” Conversely, “can I be healthy if I’m not happy?” You may think that one is dependant on the other, or you may “choose” to keep each one independant of each other. I have made the choice to make them independant of each other, knowing full well, that I will enjoy my happiness even more if I’m healthy. Having said that, sometimes you just gotta sit down and eat a carton of Blueberry Cheesecake Ice cream while your considering your health and happiness…hehe!

    1. Such great reflections Darryl. Thank you for sharing! You inner debates: “Health and happiness continue to battle for the top-spot on my values list.” encourage us all to dig deeper. Now go eat some ice cream! 🍦

    1. Thank you! 😊

      Your turn Maory: How are your health & happiness practices the same OR different. For example, do your health practices bring you happiness and vice versa? 🔖

  23. Good question – yes, the answers are different, but the intention is similar. That I want the best I can do for myself in each area. I don’t know – more often the health stuff is more chore like albeit essential. I try to make it fun though and lately, I also try to do several things each day purely for joy. Hoping to get to a point where that is essential too!

    1. Love your reflections on this question! Now you have me thinking more deeply too. Thank you for sharing! Wishing you joy & health, all week long. 🌸💗

  24. I’ve never ever thought about this question…..

    health vs happiness…

    And now that I think about it — the things that I think make me happy at this present moment don’t involve a lot of things that have to do with my health. 🤦🏾‍♀️

    I need to do better!

  25. I feel true happiness is accomplished by paying close attention to your health but balance is definitely needed. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an appointed time for everything. A time for every activity under the heavens”.

  26. Happiness is having a healthy body.
    Healthy body inscribes a healthy soul.

    1. That makes perfect sense. And to explore your answer further.. How are your health & happiness practices the same OR different. For example, do your health practices bring you happiness and vice versa? 🔖

      1. That’s a great question. Some of them are the same, ex. I love paddle boarding and that gives me both. I guess the only things I could think of that would bring happiness and not health (ex. staying out late or having some drinks) are only temporary sources of happiness anyway. In the long term I’d feel bad/worse for doing them so they wouldn’t really truly make me happy. So then that would mean maybe health and happiness are always connected.

  27. That’s a really good point. I think few of us could find ourselves happy in the face of a devastating health issue. But I personally think happiness is more than just health. You can be healthy according to all the known physical and mental “criteria”, but still feel like something’s missing. I guess. It’s a tough one 😀

    1. For me, it was something spiritual. My mood felt better after I improved my physical and mental health but it wasn’t until I actually found a purpose for it all that I can say I was truly happy.

    2. Thank you for sharing your reflections!

      Happiness and Health are just a few of the ingredients in “the good life”. For me, meaning and purpose are the magic ingredients.

      Wishing you a great start to your week!

      Andrea 🙂

  28. I used to think of laying down at home and watching Netflix as a good time. However, ever since I took back control of my health and started exercising/eating better, I’ve noticed a complete shift in my mood. These questions were easy. My health (physical, mental, and spiritual) = happiness !

  29. I love this thanks for sharing…. to me health is happiness. I take pride in my optimal health and wellbeing and without it I don’t have a chance to experience, life, live optimally to enjoy other things … ❤

  30. If I were healthy I would be so happy now because I would have wisdom, happiness and most importantly health, but I don’t have health now so I feel incomplete…

  31. Truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing. Yes I started to feel healthy and whole as I can see my future going to be bright now despite my illnesses. Thanks again. You are great.

    1. My best advice for fitness, nutrition, and overall self-care is to do a little bit, every single day. Everything adds up. No small feat goes unnoticed. Less (consistently) is always more than big (inconsistently).

      I would also suggest that you check out my interview in the The Drive Magazine for health and happiness inspiration, namely the 3 C’s of Positive Psychology.

      Article here:

  32. I would say that health and happiness are independent entities with the ability to affect each other.

  33. Totally agree health is happiness. I’m my happiest when I’m feeling good. But, having said that, I think there can be some inner peace even in the midst of poor health. Depending on how bad it is.

  34. I rate health and happiness equal

    They are interconnected.

    One cannot be independent of the other.

    For one to be happy you must be healthy.

    If you are not healthy happiness will elude you

  35. Totally agree health is happiness. I’m my happiest when I’m feeling good. But, having said that, I think there can be some inner peace even in the midst of poor health. Depending on how bad it is.

    1. So true Eric. “I think there can be some inner peace even in the midst of poor health.” It’s about making the best of what sometimes can be, the worst times of our lives. And as the quote so beautifully goes, “it’s in our darkest times that we find our light”.

      Wishing you a light filled day! Dr. D. 🙂

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