Health-minded Paths To Happiness

Amazing Wellness|Winter 2019

Health-minded Paths To Happiness

Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno, Emmy-winning comic Paula Poundstone, and upbeat spiritual life coach Yvonne Ryba offer thoughtful routes to well-being.

Chris Mann

Can performance-mindedOlympian, a joy-seeking comedian, and an optimistic spiritual thinker show us the way to feel-good health—even happiness—in an age of seemingly 24-7 bad news, mounting everyday stress, and resulting brain drain?

With a nourished mind, an active body, and meaningful connectedness—to community, a higher power, or even a biochemical-boosting “Hiya!” at martial arts class—health-minded happiness, they attest, is attainable and sustainable.

Mindset, nutrition, nature, and a sense of fulfillment are key to navigating this journey for eight-time Olympic medalist turned wellness advocate and tech entrepreneur Apolo Ohno, who co-founded the brain health and life-coaching company Allysian Sciences after hanging up his short-track speed skates in 2010.

“I think we all often get caught up in the rat race, and I want to help people to start understanding that we have control over our own happiness,” says Ohno, 36. “Our perception, our mind, is a huge component of how we live and the decisions we make daily. And a very strong mind-body connection is absolutely integral to making sure that we have fulfillment and are happy. I want people to recognize the power we have regardless of skill set. Very simple tweaks that you can do in your body and mind and lifestyle make the biggest difference.”

At times, the path to bliss takes creative experimenting, though. A quick wit and willing body helped stand-up comic Paula Poundstone captain her adventures as her own glee-hunting guinea pig in her insightful and endorphin-releasing level funny book The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness.

The mom of three took action in a series of experiments— from learning to swing dance (“I look like I’m chasing chickens,” she quips), to volunteering locally, to finessing a mean side kick that made her kids bust a gut laughing—that put her in the flow of feel-good neurotransmitters. Two months into taekwondo, “I’m walking down the alley carrying 20 to 30 pounds of kitty litter, and I realized I felt good,” says Poundstone, 58. “I definitely felt a sense of well-being and uplift.”

And sometimes we can look within, and upward, to lighten our loads. Texas-based spiritual life coach and Science of Mind practitioner Yvonne Ryba advocates bringing visions of happiness into being via positive thinking and affirmative prayer.

Ryba, 76, even credits these practices for helping her attract companionship and laughter into her life in 2016 after a year of grieving the death of her second husband—as she had done nearly a decade prior after mourning her first husband’s passing. “Again, I needed someone to be here with me,” she says. “So I focused on what I wanted in a companion, and I affirmed it in writing. I wanted somebody who made me laugh and had a great sense of humor—and that’s exactly what I got.”

MISSION APOLO: MIND OVER MATTER

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Winter 2019