February is indeed the month of “love” but it is also heart healthy month. There are many myths and truths about love, heart health, and emotional intelligence… and yes, you guessed it this all ties in with how health literate we are as individuals and as populations. This month I designate Snoopy as my ‘poster child’.
Why? Snoopy is the “man”… though some of you may like Snoop Dogg (the U.S. rapper and actor) who likely was inspired by the coolest dog, Snoopy, the Charles Schulz Peanut’s character. Though all Peanuts characters that have much to teach us about self-esteem, growing up, friendship, dealing with challenges, there is something to be said about a non-verbal yet very expressive beagle. Some people believe that Snoopy expresses the character of the Beagle breeds the best.
Snoopy knows when to be cool, when to use charm, to express anger at the right times for the right reasons, is cultured as he appreciates art and music, cries and laughs with passion. They have even created Snoopy emoticons calling Snoopy the dog with a thousand faces! He is not a mere bystander when his friend Charlie Brown and gang may experience problems, fear, interpersonal problems, bullying (some countries celebrate February 28th & 29th as Anti-Bullying days though May 4th is the Official U.N. Nations designated date). Snoopy comes to the rescue to teach and handle the situation with the utmost ‘cool’ — one of the best is “He’s a Bully” as how Joe wheels and deals in the power-control arena. The key again in bullying is ‘repeated’ manipulation, teasing, physical altercation (pushing/shoving, hitting, etc.) and yes it occurs from school all through our grown-up lives (in relationships, at work, in communities). Learning about healthy relationships and the power-and-control wheel via The Duluth Model which includes the “equality wheel” — something for all of us to reflect on occasion.
When Snoopy is ‘down’ he also seeks inspiration, friendship, and support from his sidekick Woodstock (named after the 1969 music festival in New York state). Hence why we also need social support and this has been proven time and time again in many psychosocial studies as the one thing that helps us through illness and other life difficulties. As a matter of fact people indeed can die of a ‘broken heart’ (some call it a broken heart syndrome) due to loss of a loved one, lack of social support, or feeling unloved. The American Heart Association gives us the technical names for this syndrome as being stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy — but indeed the reputable organization indicates it is real as it can lead to muscle failure, and more importantly it is treatable.
Getting appropriate blood tests to recognize what we may need to change, dieting, exercising, relaxing, and receiving or looking for support (personal or professional) especially for dealing with our stress or losses, are indeed necessary and can help prevent heart attacks and even death. Most people would benefit from getting in touch with this heart energy, psychotherapy, meditation, prayer, music therapy. Indeed one of the best experiences both I and others have had in opening this energy, was participating in Insight Seminars. They call their first seminar “awakening the heart” and indeed through facilitation by an experienced trainer and helpful exercises, participants go through a grueling self-reflection… as Michael Jackson said in his song “The Man in the Mirror” — one seeks to change their ways for the better, as an individual and as a community. At no greater time do we need to listen to Michael’s message! Lastly, Whitney Houston reminded us to learn to love ourselves… love yourself but not so much narcissism that you don’t care about others — Justin Bieber’s last hit song hits the spot “love yourself.”
Be healthy, be smart, have a heart…. and stay cool. Thanks Snoopy!