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Video: Simple life can make you healthier, happier

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    >> windows 7. your pc simplified.

    >>> we're back now at 7:46. and this morning on "simplify your life today," taking small steps to live a healthier and spiritually more satisfying life. dr. nancy snyderman is nbc's chief medical editor. nancy, good morning to you.

    >> hi, matt.

    >> i need your help at the beginning here.

    >> sure.

    >> because this segment has in the last several days been dramatically impacted by the trip you just took to haiti .

    >> sure.

    >> so, just explain what it was you wanted to talk about today based on what you saw there.

    >> well, the assignment was how to simplify your life. and when you come back from a country where people who have nothing have lost even more and they live on $2 a day, it's trite as an american with a lot to come back and tell people how to simplify things. so, i thought about how i watched people living there and what i could learn from them. and the reality is, there are sort of spiritual and physical simplifications that we can all make that i think gets us back to the core of who we are as human beings .

    >> remembering, though, that we're talking about changes by choice here. the people of haiti had no choice.

    >> absolutely correct.

    >> before or after the earthquake.

    >> absolutely correct.

    >> but one of the things you want to talk about that can really improve your life spiritually and maybe even physically, is this idea of giving back, which you saw so many people doing in haiti .

    >> saw people all over the world coming to give back. and the haitians, who live so modestly to begin with, the one thing they had, most of them, was at least a roof over their heads, now living in parks and with sheets over their heads. so, that idea of unburdening yourself, but especially for those of us who have so much, whether it's your school, whether it's in a crisis like haiti . you have to as a human being figure out how to take care of your fellow human beings , and we know that when you do that, your spiritual core is awakened, you feel better about yourself, your immune system is stronger, you're happier. and we followed nuns who have been happier in doing that kind of work. and those nuns who gave of themselves and found themselves happier had healthier lives, fewer aches and pains, and in fact, lived longer.

    >> and by the way, there are a lot of definitions for giving back. you can give of your time --

    >> it can be small, it can be big.

    >> material goods, food. money is also can.

    >> my sister gives money. she says i do the coward's way out, i give money, because it's sort of her thing. it doesn't matter what your thing is. at the end of the day, you have to think, did i try to make somebody else's life better?

    >> declutter your life. what do you mean by that?

    >> look at all the junk we own, seriously, stuff. things you haven't worn, things you think are important. i came back thinking the things i had recently purchased around the holidays, are they at all important? and you come back and look at the wealth that we have, this clutter. get rid of it. give it to people who might like it.

    >> improves things aesthetically, but also makes you feel better. walking, that's obvious.

    >> improve your exercise.

    >> improve your daily diet to live better.

    >> go back to the basics. we talk about the fact that people in impoverished neighborhoods can't get decent food. go back to a can of beans. that may sound rudimentary, in fact, but basic, basic, basic foods can nurture all of us.

    >> we're going to put more of these on our website. drink much more water, be mindful of your breathing.

    >> yep.

    >> so many people walk around pent up, holding their breath.

    >> and find one thing, no matter how lousy your day is, whether it's visual, auditory or whether you smell it, one thing that you can put in your pocket and say that was today's moment.

    >> in other words, stop and smell the roses .

    >> you've got it.

    >> nancy snyderman , thanks. good work in haiti .

    >> thank you.

    >>> coming up next, teaching your kids manners in modern times .

    >>> just ahead, the duggars give us a first look at

By
TODAY
updated 1/28/2010 9:55:27 AM ET 2010-01-28T14:55:27

From giving back to taking a moment to appreciate each day, Dr. Nancy Snyderman reveals seven simple steps to live a healthier and spiritually more satisfying life.

1. Give back
If you don't volunteer your time, you've got to figure out a way to do it. Whether it's helping out at your kid's school, a nonprofit or abroad, you have to do something. Wherever you go, it's a great thing to do. Another good option is to give cash if you can't give your time.

2. Get rid of stuff
Shed stuff, clothes, etc., that you don't want or don't need. You'll get a good feeling not only from donating it, but also living in a newly decluttered space.

3. Get moving
People really need to get back to moving around the way man was originally intended to: on foot. Plan a weekend without your car and figure out what can you get done without an automobile.

4. Simplify your diet
We've heard about how there are higher rates of diabetes in some communities that have fast food on every corner and that fresh fruit and vegetables can be sometimes be expensive (a dollar for an apple in some areas and 15 cents in others, depending on where you live). Those are valid arguments, but a can of beans is cheap anywhere you go. Beans are full of protein, have very little fat, and are eaten all over the world. In fact, we probably under-eat beans in this country.

5. Drink water
You don't need flavored water, just regular water. It's the best thing for you. And in most parts of the country, you can drink it from the tap. And if you don't want to drink from the tap, get a water purifier.

6. Breathe
Most of us don't breathe normally. And when we're tense, we hold our breath. We also breathe too fast, which can make you feel like you're having an anxiety attack. If you stay in the moment, breathing, you metabolize things differently and you put less strain on your heart and your brain, plus you sleep better. I recommend inhaling and exhaling through your nose. But it doesn't really matter how you do it — just find your breath.

7. Take a moment to appreciate each day
Find one thing — either visual, auditory or olfactory — to focus on and find the gift in. Every day, try to register something that gives you a pause. I truly believe this goes to the core and makes you feel that you're part of something bigger. It makes you connect with the idea that we share the earth with millions of others and we don't live isolated lives.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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