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Natural Awakenings Healthy Living Magazine

You Make Me Smile

John & Trina

When we are happy, we naturally smile, and smiling itself, even if it masks a grumpy mood, can induce happiness. The muscles used in smiling are connected to nerves that send signals to the brain, which then releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin throughout the body. The resulting wave of well-being can make a forced smile real. What’s more, because of mirror neurons, being around smiling people makes their smiles contagious.

Shifting into a happier way of being can be as simple as changing our habits. Thanks to two decades of research in Positive Psychology, we now know more precisely how to attain and sustain happiness—and it’s clear that when we change our thinking and act repeatedly in positive ways, our brains rewire themselves and happiness settles into our daily life. Learn more in our feature story this month, “Think Yourself Happy: Seven Ways to Change Your Mind and Be Happier.”

Exercise stimulates those same neurotransmitters, but getting a workout in a natural setting fortifies the whole nervous system. Whether it’s rafting down a river or skiing on a lake, a vigorous water sport can be the highlight of any vacation; plus, it offers good exercise disguised as play. These activities engage the core more than many other sports, build muscle tone and raise the spirits. Discover more in “Water Sports for a Total Body Workout: Cool Ways to Stay Fit this Summer.”

It’s been a tough year of up-and-down schooling situations for many children, but as kids strap on their backpacks and head back to classes, parents can help prepare them for success by holding a family sit-down to talk through priorities and scheduling, along with making sure tasty, healthy treats are there for the grabbing when they are home. Find out more in our Healthy Kids department, “Back-to-School Wellness: Tips to Keep Kids Healthy.”

As the veggies roll in from our garden, we will make sure to enjoy their tasty goodness all year round by canning tomatoes, jams, and pickles. Fermenting makes foods more digestible and nutritious, and is fairly easy to do. Learn more in “Preserving the Harvest.” I love meals made with John’s homemade tomato sauce, it is a family fav!

Life is short and uncertain; we can choose to see things in a more positive fashion—magnifying the good enables us to make the most of every day, whatever changes come our way. We hope you use and enjoy our happiness issue; it is filled with ideas to help you make better choices that align with what you truly want in life.

In health and happiness,