Clap Along If You Feel Like Happiness Is The Truth

Ever wonder why the pursuit of health and happiness is always stated together as an ‘and’?  Quite simply, they can’t exist apart. We are mind, body, and soul. You can’t be a whole thriving being without nourishing all three aspects of who you are.

About 5 years ago I finally decided to get healthy. I hit a very low point on the health and happiness charts. I felt horrible – mentally, physically, and emotionally. At the time, I believed my first step was changing my diet but in actuality it was deciding I wanted more from my life.

I realized I had a joyless problem while in nutrition school. One day, the founder of the school asked a student to describe what she wanted for her life in 10 years – to outline what would make her happy.  She burst into tears (as did I) because she had no clue what made her happy (neither did I).  She lived in the hell of “listdom”, a joyless place (as did I).

What does being happy mean anyway? I love the book “Happier” by Tal Ben-Shahar, a Harvard professor of positive psychology.  It helped me figure out why joy was key to my journey.  In it, he describes four archetypes along the axes of present benefit and future detriment (this spoke to the geek in me).  They are:

  • Hedonism – the person who seeks pleasure (present benefit) and avoids or ignores pain (future detriment)
  • Rat race – the person who chooses to suffer now (present detriment) for the purpose of some anticipated future benefit
  • Nihilism – the person who neither enjoys the moment (present detriment) nor has a sense of future purpose (future detriment)
  • Happy – the person who enjoys the moment (present benefit) knowing it will lead to a fulfilling future (future benefit)

Guess what?!  I am a RAT RACER!!  I have lived my entire life for a future happiness! I always think, I will be happy when [fill in the blank]. I did whatever it was and everyone complimented me, but sadly, I didn’t obtain a long-term happiness. I mostly just felt relief. Relief that I didn’t screw up or let someone down.

What makes a rat racer is that we do things and achieve but we don’t enjoy it!  We mistake relief for happiness. A rat racer believes that happiness will come once we reach a certain destination. Sadly, a destination that remains elusive.  So, a big part of my health and happiness is about experiencing more joy, every day.  I have worked to reconnect with that part of my soul and it has been a fabulous ride ever since.

What can you do to be happier?

  • Read the book and understand your archetype. This may help you figure out what’s working and what’s not working for your health and happiness.
  • Find a quiet space and create a list of what makes you happy.
  • Create a happiness ritual. From that list, what one thing can you start doing for the next 30 days? Exercise 3x a week. Cook a healthy dinner 1x a week. Buy fresh flowers every Saturday, Read a book to your child 2 nights a week.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. I keep repeating this one because it works. List 5 things every night that made you happy that day.

Which simple step will you take on your wellness walk?


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