Happy, healthy, wealthy and wise

CarolinaFireJournal - By Gail Ostrishko
By Gail Ostrishko
08/04/2013 -

Who doesn’t want to be happy? After all, the pursuit of happiness is one of our inalienable constitutional rights. But the more diligently you pursue happiness, the more it can elude you — sort of like chasing a butterfly. Happiness is actually a by product of living a healthy balanced life. Relationships are our roots to that life and provide a platform for our pursuits. My husband was quite surprised and somewhat relieved when I assured him years ago that he is not responsible for my happiness. “Really?” he asked in awe. “I thought it was my job to make you happy!” Have you ever fallen into the same trap of believing the burden of someone else’s happiness lies on your shoulders?


Who do you enjoy spending time with? Who can lift your spirit and lighten your load when you feel overwhelmed? Who counts on you to do the same for them? We all have an innate need to feel connected, to belong to a social circle of support and to be encouraged and
accepted for who we are.

Rest assured it does not! Of course relationships are a significant source of satisfaction in life, and we pursue our needs within the context of those connections, but no one can make you happy but yourself.

Like our bodies, our relationships need a healthy balance of input and activity. Research consistently confirms a correlation between positive interaction and longevity in relationships. The magic minimum seems to be five positive to every negative exchange.

Consider the concept of the emotional bank account. Much like your money, deposits lay a foundation and continue to compound if they are managed appropriately. But if you withdraw more than you have invested, the results can be devastating.

Wealth is relative, and has little to do with money.

The more you have of what money cannot buy, the more of the same you attract. How do you define rich? And how close have you come to achieving it? When I look around at the people and experiences in my life, the freedom I have as an independent entrepreneur, and the simple pleasures I enjoy every day, I remind myself that I am rich beyond belief. Of course there will always be people who appear to have more than I do, and also others who have less. I have to chuckle at my consistent question to every financial advisor I have ever consulted with: how do we compare with others our age? Every one of them gives me some version of the same answer: you are where you are, what others have is irrelevant to your situation! A novel concept that continues to challenge me.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge, and part of what separates the haves from the have-nots. Regardless of content or topic, information abounds; the internet offers immediate access to anything you want to know. But the gap between knowing and not knowing is much smaller than the gap between knowing and doing! If having information was all it took to be successful, we would live in a world full of happy, healthy, skinny, wealthy people! But we don’t! Because not everyone takes action on what they know in their head and their heart to be true.

Happy, healthy relationships take work. They are long term investments of time, energy and emotion with the potential of great returns. But just like anything else in life; you get out what you put in. Reciprocity is a significant element of effectiveness in relationships at all ages and stages. We invest in experiences that offer a reasonable return, yet I also believe that the true measure of a man is how he treats someone from whom he has nothing to gain.

Who do you enjoy spending time with? Who can lift your spirit and lighten your load when you feel overwhelmed? Who counts on you to do the same for them? We all have an innate need to feel connected, to belong to a social circle of support and to be encouraged and accepted for who we are.

So what does this mean for firefighters and first responders? You know the power of relationships; you live and rely on them every day. Who do you invest in and how? The culture of your profession comes with a significant social circle, people you come to know well and trust with your life. But your capacity to build those relationships is rooted in others you have experienced throughout your life. Remember the timeless wisdom we learned as children: make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold and don’t put all your eggs in one basket! These principles are particularly significant for folks whose work relationships invoke the intensity of Brotherhood.

Cultivate connections within and among your professional and personal circles through simple strategies:

  • Express gratitude daily; count your blessings and tell others what you appreciate about them
  • Acknowledge and encourage others for what they do well.
  • Give clear consistent feedback regarding what works in specific situations and relationships
  • Make time to have fun together
  • Schedule events that include colleagues, family members and your other social circles
  • Encourage family members to connect with other families in the same profession
  • Stay in touch while you are away; leave notes, call, text or e-mail to check in daily
  • Share and compare experiences with others in your field; learn from each other and live vicariously
  • Identify activities that meet multiple objectives: (working out at work, collaborative financial planning)
  • Evaluate what really brings you pleasure personally and professionally and create a balance of both
  • Seek overlap between personal and professional pleasures and combine activities and relationships

Do you want to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise?

It was old Abraham Lincoln who said early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, but he left out the happy part! That, my friend, is up to YOU!

Gail Ostrishko helps individuals and organizations increase productivity and satisfaction by identifying and engaging strengths and natural abilities. She combines decades of experience as a facilitator, speaker, author and coach to bring out the best in individuals and organizations. For more information contact [email protected] or call 919-779-2772.
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Issue 33.4 | Spring 2019

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