Author: Abby Resek
A lot of our time spent in the health and fitness world is, I think, spent looking for happiness.
Sometimes, it’s because we think if we change our appearance, we think we’ll be happier. If we lose weight, we’ll be happier. If we get stronger, we’ll be happier. Lift more, build muscle, feel better, look better, we’ll be happier.
I’m constantly looking for little mindset shifts. Little tweaks I can make in my brain which, whether or not they actually change my life in a tangible way, make me feel better. And sometimes I think I’ve struck gold when, in fact, it’s just more of the same.
I tried to think about my health in terms of happiness – I thought to myself “if I’m not doing it to lose weight, or look different, or anything like that, if I’m just doing it to be happy, then I’ll be good”.
Truthfully, though, I think all those things are tangled up together. Happiness, and all the ways we’re taught to get it. They’re so messy and melted and impossible to distinguish that I can’t just say “I exercise to be happy”, because why? And what does that even mean?
Yes, sometimes movement brings me joy. Taking a walk in the sun, nailing a pull-up, doing something challenging and feeling good about it. And other times, it’s incredibly frustrating. When I feel achy and stiff and don’t want to get out of bed, when I can’t get a barbell off the ground, when I go for a jog and I’m just not feeling it. At those times, if my goal is happiness, then I have failed unequivocally.
The point here is not to have some “suck it up and do it” attitude, either, because I think that’s too far in the other direction. What I’ve been thinking about lately, and what I think is both more gentle and more realistic, is the idea of being at peace.
This idea started to form because of how frustratedI felt every time I encountered something that I interpreted as failure. When your goal is happiness, and you’re not meeting that goal, by default you’re considering yourself unhappy. And when we think about unhappiness, we think of wrongness – that something must be wrong to make us unhappy. That there’s something wrong with us if we can’t lift a certain weight or do a certain movement.
When the goal is ‘being at peace’, and I have moments of frustration, I instead think of ‘not being at peace’. And, perhaps, this is a better way to approach ‘failures’, because when we’re looking to achieve peace we look towards negotiation.Meeting ourselves in the middle, instead of fixing something we see as wrong.
I understand this won’t click for everyone. But what I do think is important is seriously considering what scale we’re setting ourselves on. Whenever we’re goal setting, we spend a lot more time not having achieved that goal than we do actually having achieved it. That’s the very nature of change and growth. So, whatever scale you’re on, it’s important that you’re okay hanging out there for a while. Find ways to think about the process that allow you to feel patient and forgiving. This may be a small tweak, but who knows – it could make all the difference.