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Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being

Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being PDF

Author: Dr. Rangan Chatterjee

Publisher: BenBella Books


Publish Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN-10: 1637742118

Pages: 272

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

I’ve been a practicing doctor for over twenty years. During that time, I’ve always been driven by a desire to fully understand, why is this patient sitting in front of me? What’s happened in their life that’s led them to my door? I’ve written in my previous books about the critically important role our modern lifestyle plays in the vast majority of cases I see. When people arrive with a set of physical symptoms and I do a bit of investigating, I usually find the upstream causes of their issues are to do with their food choices, a lack of regular movement, poor-quality sleep, or unmanaged stress. It’s amazing how often small tweaks in someone’s lifestyle can have massively beneficial downstream effects on their overall health. For example, helping someone sleep better and teaching them a simple one-minute breathing exercise can have a transformative impact on someone struggling with anxiety. And someone who struggles with debilitating gut symptoms can often feel significantly better by learning how to lower their stress levels and making a few changes to their diet.

But a few years ago I began to wonder if there could be a factor that lies even further upstream than a healthy lifestyle. Could there actually be something that’s even more important than food, rest, and exercise? This idea kept niggling away at me. I asked myself, what about the people who are making all the right lifestyle choices and still find themselves having problems with their health? What’s going on with them? Is there something they tend to have in common? And what about those patients who always seem to be walking a tightrope—who manage to make helpful lifestyle changes for a few weeks, or even a few months, but then revert back to their previous unhelpful behaviors? And what is it that enables some people to effortlessly make healthy choices whereas others seem to find it painstakingly hard?

Most people would tell you this all comes down to motivation and willpower. Popular belief has it that if we want to get healthy badly enough, we’ll find the inner strength to do so. Success comes from mental strength, and failure comes from mental weakness. I think this is wrong. Our day-to-day habits are not a reflection of our strength or weakness of mind. They’re a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.

This is how it works. When we think negative thoughts and allow the actions of others to influence the way that we feel, we bring stress into our body. And stress is implicated in about 90 percent of what a doctor like me sees on any given day. But when we feel calm, content, and in control of our lives, the opposite is true: we become healthier. Time and time again I’ve seen this to be true: when we feel truly and deeply happy in our lives and with our lives, the direct consequences for our health are profound.

Books and podcasts can change the world. I truly believe that. So much of the information we consume these days is edited down and over-simplified. As a society, what we need is more nuance, perspective, and compassion. This is exactly what long-form podcasts and books, like this one, give us. They allow us to deepen our understanding of who we really are.

My own life has been enhanced immeasurably by having weekly in-depth conversations on my podcast, “Feel Better, Live More.” They have helped me refine and develop my thinking on a whole variety of different subjects, and many of the insights I have had as a consequence have ended up in the book that you now hold in your hands.

My hope is that this book provides value not just the first time you read it but for many years to come. I believe that the ideas it contains will take on a different meaning as you progress through life, and that you’ll feel called to revisit them regularly.

Writing a manuscript and then transforming black and white words into a beautifully designed book is a team effort. I am grateful to have many people in my personal and professional life who believe in what I do and are dedicated to helping me spread my message as far and wide as possible.

To Vidhaata—you walk alongside me in everything that I do. You help me get to know myself better and I truly appreciate everything you do for me and our beautiful family. Thank you for your honesty, integrity, support, and love. Thank you for being you.

To Jainam and Anoushka—spending time with you both is my very favorite Happiness Habit. You both inspire me to become a better person and have taught me the true meaning of success. Thank you both for the love, presence, and joy you bring into my life.

To my family and friends—you know who you are—thank you for the unconditional support and always having my back.

Thank you to my team who work tirelessly to help me spread my message—Clare, Gareth, Sarah, Steph, Jeremy, and Sophie—I appreciate every single one of you.

Special thanks to Will Storr, Will Francis, and Sophie Laurimore.

Helen Hall—exchanging voice messages back and forth with you has helped me work through many of the ideas within this book. You are a special human being and I am lucky to know you.

Pippa Grange and Julia Samuel—thank you both for taking the time to read the manuscript and provide such valuable feedback. You are both special people doing incredible work.

My team at Penguin Life—my fifth book in five years . . . how on earth did that happen?! You are an incredible team and it has been a pleasure to work with you all again. Thank you for believing in me and my mission.

Christopher Terry—your photography is exquisite and has enhanced this book immeasurably.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Peter Crone, Gabor Mate, John McAvoy, Edith Eger, Greg McKeown, David Bradford, Carole Robin, and Laurie Santos for the life-enhancing conversations on my “Feel Better, Live More” podcast.

Thank you to every single one of my patients. You have taught me much more than I have taught you.

And, lastly, I would like to thank you, my reader, for picking up this book. Time is a valuable resource—the most precious one we have. Thank you for giving me some of yours. I appreciate it.

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