Happiness Can Kill!

I was switching channels when I heard a woman say, “Food is the only thing that makes me happy.” I stopped and watched a 900-pound, bedridden woman shovel a huge piece of cake into her mouth. That made me stop and think, what is happiness?

Many people don’t understand that emotional health creates physical and mental reality. When we fail to focus on healing ourselves, we can look for happiness in all the wrong places. Some people escape by turning to drugs, alcohol, or sex, while others find control and relief in food.

Our bodies are magical energy that absorbs how we handle our emotional well-being, affecting our mind, body, and spirit. Stress, anxiety, physical, mental, and sexual abuse can cause excess adrenaline and other problems, leading to heart palpitations, lack of sleep, digestive problems, breathing difficulties, and, over time, various illnesses and diseases.

The more emotionally crippled we become, the more money we spend on doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, medications, and other health services. How we handle our emotions can make us strong and resilient despite what has happened in our past, or we can become emotionally imbalanced and slowly kill ourselves. Even life-saving food can be a killer!

I am not an expert on this topic, but I know what I’ve seen as a crime and violence prevention specialist. Obesity is an epidemic, costing $173 billion in 2019. Look at old movies from the thirties, forties, and fifties. We don’t see many overweight people. Life was less stressful; families played and worked together, neighbors knew and trusted each other, and there was less crime and violence. However, in high-crime neighborhoods, I saw obesity forty years ago, which wasn’t just about poverty but how people reacted to fear and stress by hiding behind closed doors. I saw them losing their health and safety as they lost human connections.

Many Americans don’t understand humans are spiritual beings who depend on social connections. How we emotionally react to life can kill us or keep us safe and healthy. 

Everyone has anxiety and fear, but how we handle anger can determine our health. Do we escape our emotions with drugs, alcohol, or food? Do we get angry or violent and blame others? Do we become passive and blame ourselves? Or do we stay spiritually centered and work together to solve problems?

Many low-income Americans do not panic but have learned to stay calm under stress. They often focussed on family support, neighborhood, or community connections and found inner peace through prayer or mediation. They transformed depression into courage, found wisdom that transformed fear and energized their spirit with a commitment to help others. Emotional pain can be transformed into patience, calmness, and serenity, but it takes commitment, faith, and being surrounded by people who care.

Happiness is what we value and what we choose to believe.

How many people will die without understanding that their health and safety depend on how they react to the world around them? What do we want for our families and future? How can we find health and safety? It all boils down to knowing that we are spiritual beings with the inner power to heal ourselves. When we focus on loving who we are, helping others, and focusing on faith in a higher power, we will discover the wisdom that can guide us to real happiness and success.


Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie Mann co-authored, Alternative to Fear: Guidelines to Safer Neighborhoods,” which helped launch the national “Neighborhood Watch” Program. Within 2 1/2 years, involved residents in her community (17,500 residents) decreased crime 48%, WITHOUT a local police department. Mann worked as a community leader, neighborhood organizer, county coordinator, state consultant and authored, “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods: Stopping Crime Where You Live” (Nolo Press 1993) In 2010, while working in Richmond CA, with “Mother’s Against Senseless Killings,” Mann saw people too scared to be involved or report crimes. She wrote, “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook,” with an easy-to-follow guide for existing groups and “My first steps to a safe neighborhood” for citizens. These booklets give individuals and groups the tools to reach out and bring people together to help each other. Stephanie started a homeless men’s support group while working with “The Mary Ann Wright Foundation” in Oakland CA. She recognized the need to support children at an early age and wrote, “Street Safe Kids: 10 Step Guide for Teens and Adults” (which has been used in after-school programs) to help youth grow strong from within to develop self-esteem and stay centered. Book available on The Safe Kids Now National website states, “Every child needs a healthy family and neighborhood to stay safe.” In partnership with the CARR Foundation, a binder, “Safe Neighborhoods: Access to a Healthy Community,” was created for city leaders to make neighborhoods safer for families and neighborhoods. Stephanie’s books strengthen families and can decrease the social isolation that fuels bullies, domestic violence, abuse, drugs, gangs, and other destructive behaviors.”

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