As we explore the connection between happiness and good health, we offer inspiration on ways to be happy and share positivity with each other. Aspire Health Plan member JoEllen Davis (Jody) embodies what it means to “Choose Happy.” After visiting Monterey County with her daughter years ago, she knew it was going to be the place she chose to retire. As a former educator, she’s used to being busy. “Getting older means having more time for yourself. I stay busy now to keep myself out of trouble,” she says with a laugh.
How does Jody choose happy? In a number of ways.
1. Staying connected
Research finds that social connections do, in fact, lead to happiness. Using sites like Meetup.com allow Jody to host and attend in-person and virtual events with people with similar interests. For example, she hosts a monthly book club, usually with local authors. Most recently they welcomed Alka Joshi, author of The Henna Artist. Keeping with the theme, Jody encouraged the group to wear saris or traditional Indian clothing and served Indian food. “It’s fun to remove yourself from where you are and immerse yourself in a different place and culture,” she says.
2. Getting involved
There are numerous health benefits to volunteering, including staying physically and mentally active, meeting others, and developing new relationships. Jody volunteers at both the SPCA for Monterey County and Dorothy’s Kitchen in Salinas. If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, following the Blue Zones Project® — Monterey County on Facebook is a great place to start.
3. Going outside
One of the best things Jody says about moving to California from Indiana is that you can spend more time outside. Each Saturday, Jody gets together with a group for a morning walk along the ocean, with a stop at a local coffee shop. Also on Mondays, she participates in an international walking group. “Monterey County brings together so many people from different places and everyone has a story to share,” she says.
4. Being active
One of our 21 opportunities to focus on happiness in 2021 is to go for a brief walk at least once per day. Once an avid biker, walking 5–8 miles each day, along with working with a personal trainer, helps Jody stay active.
5. Eating healthy
While sheltering in place during COVID-19, Jody worked with a nutritionist through the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. “As a diabetic, they taught me how to eat better and introduced a couple of new diet options,” she says. “The Mediterranean Diet has proven to be the best for me, and I’ve stuck with it since February.”
6. Doing something for yourself
Even with all her volunteer and social activity, Jody says she always remembers to unplug, relax, and do something for herself. “Having someone else do something for you gives you the energy to do something for others,” she says.
Let’s continue to bring happiness and positivity back into our lives this year (and beyond) — and don’t forget to have fun with it. “Life’s a party if you choose happy,” says Jody.
Throughout the year, we’ve shared activities and content showing how happiness can lead to better overall health. Follow along on our blog and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) and share your journey with us using the hashtag #AspireChooseHappy.
This article also appears in the fall 2021 issue of the Aspire Advocate quarterly member newsletter. You can access the full issue here along with past issues.