Health and Happiness
Can You Have Both?
by Simran Bajwa
If I was in a room with 100 random UC Berkeley undergraduates, and I asked them to raise their hand if they were healthy, how many hands do you think would be raised? If you then asked them to raise their hand if they were happy, would you see more or less hands? And if you asked them to raise their hand if they were both, do you predict you would see any hands at all?
If you aren’t sure of the answers to those questions, you are not alone. What’s even more interesting is how we might not even be able to answer some of those questions if we ask ourselves.
If someone was asked, “Are you healthy?” most people could probably come up with the answer relatively quickly. You consider your diet, how much you exercise, the amount of sleep you get every night, etc. However, when asked, “Are you happy?” it’s not always that easy. At first, someone might consider how their day went and give a “yes” or “no” answer. However, happiness isn’t measured on a day-to-day basis for most of us. Things that made us unhappy yesterday often leave behind some residual sadness for today.
Happiness is a concept that is hard to fully understand because it is reliant on so many things. Your mental health and physical health are large factors that affect your happiness. If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, it is definitely hard to be happy. Also, many people who are suffering from a short-term injury or a long-term illness can find it hard to be in a positive mindset. But what happens if you’re mentally healthy and physically healthy but you’re still not happy?
One of the most common phenomena Berkeley students experience is just “going through the motions.” School, homework, volunteering, applying for internships, studying for exams, and then the cycle repeats. Oftentimes when going through these cycles, we don’t even begin to think about our happiness and instead focus on our academics. And if we consider ourselves unhappy at those times, are we able to consider ourselves mentally healthy?
The University Health Services Tang Center provides services to hundreds of students every year regarding their mental health and increasing their happiness. These services include counseling to overcome specific problems, holding events to decrease academic stress and connect students with one another, and psychiatry services to help students who are feeling burdened with more serious mental health problems such as depression or anxiety disorders.
Additionally, the Tang Center’s Be Well at Cal program has partnered with other organizations throughout campus to aid students in making social connections with peers, advising students on better eating and exercise habits, as well as holding workshops to develop more self-compassion and gratitude, all of which can increase a student’s happiness here at Cal. No matter how happiness is achieved, it is important that health and happiness are prioritized in every student’s life.