Today, I would like to talk about the pursuit of happiness. Here’s a common and often quoted phrase: “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” If this is true, why are so many people so focused on the destinations in their life? It’s true in all areas of life, but particularly health and fitness.
People are obsessed with losing “X” pounds instead of improving their ability to move through life and play with their kids. People want “great abs” instead of being able to perform better in a sport. Here’s a simple question for you…
Are you in pursuit of happiness in your life?
I’m sure. Almost everyone answers yes to that question. Some people also answer by saying that “I’m already very happy”. The next important question to ask is “what does being ‘happy’ mean to you”?
People commonly have trouble answering that question, or they provide some generic response related to “being loved, being more successful, making more money, or spending time with family”.
While these are all things that can potentially contribute to happiness, they miss the point.
Happiness is not a destination.
Is not static.
Happiness is relative.
It’s a perception.
Being happy all the time is not even the goal.
Like many things in life, happiness is temporary. It is a feeling or emotion based on neurochemical responses in the brain and body.
Sorry to demystify this sacred topic, but knowing the truth and putting your happiness in perspective is an important part of achieving more happiness and being more satisfied with every aspect of life (even the non-happy parts).
To truly experience happiness, we must also experience contrasting emotions and feelings. Pain. Struggle. Frustration.
These emotions go hand in hand with happiness. It’s been said that one of the key factors in the pursuit of happiness in life is actually the pursuit of a worthy ideal. Notice how it doesn’t say that happiness is found in accomplishing a specific goal?
Sure, accomplishing a lofty goal is a great feeling, and you will likely feel a lot of happiness, pride, and joy at that moment. However, the happiness you feel comes from knowing that you overcame a large obstacle. That you “completed a journey” to reach an important milestone.
If you hadn’t gone through the journey, the happiness wouldn’t exist or at least would be much less powerful.
If you’ve ever climbed a mountain to experience the view from the top, you will understand that there is a different feeling when you’ve arrived there under your own power than if you’ve been flown or driven to the peak. The view is still nice, but it doesn’t mean as much and isn’t as impactful.
This leads to my earlier statement that happiness is not static. There is an ebb and flow to happiness each day, week, month, and year. Too much time spent on either end of the spectrum throws the system out of balance.
Being happy all the time is unrealistic. The “down” times are important. They are normal and help us put happy times in perspective. Our goal should not be to avoid the downtimes but to shift the center further along the spectrum towards happiness.
Happiness is also extremely relative.
Here’s a great example from happiness research.
If you give someone a million dollars, they will be ecstatic…a least for a while. However, that happiness can quickly turn to anger and jealousy if they find out that another person has been given more money. This is because humans have a tendency to gauge their success and happiness in relation to others.
We see all of these factors at play in health and fitness. Someone wants to lose “X” pounds, but they “hate going to the gym” (destination focussed). If they lose some weight, they are frustrated when their friend loses more. They are also unhappy because they still aren’t as fit as they “should” be or in comparison to “those people on Facebook or Instagram”
So, what’s the solution to the pursuit of happiness in life?
- Embrace the journey towards your goal.
- Learn to love the process of personal change.
- Forget about others. Compare yourself with YOU.
- Make forward progress towards worthy objectives over the long term, and understand that ebbs and flows are natural. Just keep moving forward!
- The ebbs are just as important as the flows!
My challenge for you today is to think about areas of your life that are causing you stress and frustration. Is the outcome of that frustration worth pursuing? If so, what can you change in order to feel comfortable embracing the journey towards that goal?
If you want to learn a better approach to fitness, fat loss, and living a fabulous life, just book your FREE Success Coaching Session with FRESH!