What is a Life Well-Lived? (Hint: It’s not about having lots of money)

What is a well lived life?

Money affects every aspect of our lives. From what we eat, where we live, and how we dress, to what we do with our spare time. Having enough money is essential to achieving sustainable happiness. However, having an abundance of money “per se” is not really a true measure of how well we lived our lives.

The following guest post is brought to you by Dr. Frances Quebec, a diabetologist who practices wellness and holistic systems approach in the prevention and control of the complications of diabetes in the Philippines. She is a published author and mother to my two nieces; she happens to be my eldest sister.

Life must be happy, holy, and healthy. It must have a purpose. The World Health Organization stated that health is a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being that will enable us to live productive lives. The natural tendency of a healthy mind is to seek that which is good, true, and beautiful.

As a doctor who swore to abide by the Hippocratic Oath of being ethical, doing no harm and recognizing health as a basic human right, I am humbled to realize the need for collaboration with all sectors of society to achieve the optimum level of health at the least cost and greatest speed.

Heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, pneumonia, and cancers are the leading causes of sickness and death today. Threats to national security such as terrorism, syndicated drug crimes, calamities, political bickerings, inflation and the escalating cost of living contribute to anxieties in our society. This continues to elevate stress hormones in the populace. We can only pray and be grateful for just being alive.

The hormones of happiness

Research explains the “how” of happiness. Four hormones are associated with happiness: endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Endorphins are released through exercise, laughter, or meditation. Dopamine increases when one is in love, gets a new car, or goes shopping. Serotonin, the precursor of melatonin, an anti-aging hormone that induces sleep, increases with helpfulness and doing things benefitting others. Last, oxytocin, the trust hormone, increases when we hug, give birth, or breastfeed.

With the advent of precision technology and anti-aging medicine, it is easier to detect disease before symptoms occur and improve our health by knowing our Ideal Body Weight, Waist Circumference (less than 95cm for Asian males and 80cm for Asian females), Blood Pressure of 120/80, Fasting Blood Sugar less than 100mg%, good and bad cholesterol, uric acid, creatinine levels, and urinalysis, complete blood count and liver function test, among others with regular medical consultation.

We are what we do

We become what we repeatedly do. The discipline to do the right thing, even when no one is watching, is a skill coming from free will. With shared values, we can commit to a clear vision of an organized time-saving sustainable environment with clean air and water, free from disease-causing parasites, and poison. An environment that is free from pollution, second-hand smoke, doing zero-waste recycling while increasing availability and affordability of omega-3 fatty acid rich fish and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables in season. We should also be positive thinkers, avoid smoking, prolonged sitting, obesity, and fatigue with stress-producing hormones that result to pimples, wrinkles and spread of cancer cells and extremely elevated blood pressure causing damage to the brain, heart, and kidneys.

The Christian virtues of charity, chastity, humility, diligence, temperance, patience, and kindness build trust and lasting harmonious relationships which strengthen our immune system. According to Mother Teresa, “the fruit of Silence is Prayer, the fruit of Prayer is Faith, the fruit of Faith is Love and the fruit of Love is Service and the fruit of Service is Peace”. Inner peace leads to a life well lived which must be grounded on social justice contributing to world peace.

I remember my UST High School motto: “Once and only once I pass in this world that is to last whatever good that I may do to my fellowmen do it while I can [for] I may never pass this way again”.

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