Happiness – The Ultimate Quest

Life.

It’s often full of challenges and hardships, and sometimes it can leave us downright..well, down.  To take the painful edge off those struggles, we tend to search for ways to make ourselves happy; the means vary person to person, based on our beliefs and experiences.  For instance people come to Jubilee Fitness in their quest for added happiness, because they believe that exercising and eating well (or the results of such) can make them happy.  We tend to agree that these things can add to happiness, but we must acknowledge that they aren’t the sole factors in the happiness equation.  There are many things you can do to increase the level of happiness in your life, the most significant of which is to take control of all the things you actually have control over.  In this blog, we will discuss a few tactics (presented as challenges) to do just that, to create a positive life environment that encourages growth.

At Jubilee Fitness, we place a lot of value in providing an atmosphere that is happy and positive for all of our members.  We want every member to be greeted with a smile and to leave with a smile…every day.  If you are a member of our culture, you have a direct effect on the experience of others in this place, and by regularly practicing the Challenges that will be presented, you can contribute to the “Best Hour of Your Day” experience.

Challenge #1 – Only talk about things over which YOU have control.

Do you live in a bubble?  I surely don’t!  This means that our lives will be impacted by the all sorts of external factors – people, government, weather, etc.  Sometimes this works in our favor, but many times we are victims to circumstance.   Let’s take a look at how one small thing could wreak havoc on your entire day:

  1. A nail falls off a work truck onto the highway.
  2. You run over the nail, which causes a flat tire.
  3. You are late to work because of your flat tire.
  4. Your boss, whose mood was already bad due to something else happening in his life, yells at you for being late and implies that you are a terrible person who does terrible work.  He makes you stay 30 minutes late at the end of the day to make up for your missed time that morning.
  5. You are late picking up your kids from daycare because you had to stay late at work – overtime fee to pay.

That one little nail…ugh!!!  Now, you’ve rushed into your workout class – completely frazzled and undone.  You find your favorite workout buddy and start to unload during the warm up.  Your friend has also had a terrible day (perhaps even worse than yours), but has decided to put all of it aside for an hour so he/she can focus on something good.  You’ve just unknowingly crapped on his/her “something good”.

Talking about all the things happening in your life, over which you have little to no power to control, does not add to your happiness or to the happiness of those around you.  I understand the need to vent, and you should have someone close (your spouse, mom, sister, best friend, etc) to whom you can share your frustrations.  Talking to your gym-mates, coworkers, or the random person sitting next to your at your kid’s soccer game about such things does not help; in fact, verbally expressing your frustrations over and over again will only make you feel worse!

So, our first challenge is to only talk about things over which you have control.  If someone strikes up a conversation and asks how you are after a long, hard day, say something like, “I’m trying my best.”, “This day will get better.”, or “I’m going to feel great after my workout.”  Take ownership of what you can control, and talk about that!

 

Challenge #2 – Nix Negativity.

neg·a·tiv·i·ty

neɡəˈtivədē/
noun: the expression of criticism of or pessimism about something.
Humans are naturally negative.  We tend to think the worst, expect the worst and speak the worst into existence…which only further fuels our negativity.  It’s quite the viscous cycle.  And when we are wrapped up in our negativity, all we want to do is share it with others…misery loves company.  But, what value does this bring to our lives?  If asked, I don’t believe any of us would honestly say we want to be miserable.  So, if we don’t want it, why do we choose it?  I’m not sure I can answer that question, but I can give you a couple tips for choosing a different path.  Note: By choosing to nix negativity, you are going against human nature…it won’t be easy.  But nothing worth having/doing is ever easy, right?

1. Take control of what goes on in your brain.  You have to become aware of negative thoughts so you can then make an active, conscious decision to turn them around.  Fight the urge to snuggle in and wallow in that misery, and find a positive to cling to.  Gym Example: You hate doing a particular movement and it is programmed in today’s workout.  When you look at it, your brain immediately starts in with the negative, “I hate doing that; it sucks; it doesn’t feel good; I’m no good at it; I suck”…see how that progressed from a simple thought of not liking the movement and ended with you degrading yourself?  Try this instead, “I hate doing that, but I’m going to give it my best.” or, “I don’t like movement x, but at least we get to do some movement y…I really enjoy movement y.”   It’s okay to acknowledge something negative, but don’t dwell on it.  Always try to find a positive, even if it’s very small.2. Take control of what comes out of your mouth.  As you have reframe your thoughts to look at things in a more positive light, this step will become much easier.  When you speak something out loud, it’s a way of confirming what you have just told yourself in your head.  For a happier life, you need to be confirming positive things, not negative ones.  Again, this goes back to awareness.  If you find yourself saying something negative, stop and take a step back.  Think of a way to reframe your thought so that it becomes a positive, and then speak that.  By speaking positive words, you will uplift and encourage both yourself and those around you.

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
~Mohandas K. Gandhi~
By taking control of your thoughts and words, you can quite literally change your life (and the experiences of those around you).  Start today – pay attention to your thoughts and feelings; begin to transition into positive thinking and observe how your level of happiness increases.

Challenge #3 – Stop Whining and Making Excuses.

 

 When presented with an unwanted challenge, are you the type of person who gripes and complains before coming up with every reason that you can’t, don’t want to, or shouldn’t have to overcome said challenge; or, are you the type who puts on your big girl/boy pants and gets to work?  Are you generally successful in life, or do you find yourself constantly at the bottom?  I would argue that in most cases, your level of success is inversely proportional to how often you whine and make excuses.  In other words, the more excuses you have, the less successful you will be – in work, in relationships, in everything that matters.The negative impacts of whining and making excuses:
  • Whining makes things seem worse than they actually are.
    • There might be a lot of good in your situation, but if you only focus on the negative that is all you will ever see.
  • Whining and making excuses can literally reprogram your brain to be more negative.
    • The more you whine and make excuses, the easier it becomes.
  • When you whine to others, you make it more likely that they will be negative too.
    • It’s hard to remain positive when those around you aren’t.
  • Excuses are distractions, used as a justification for inaction.
    • No Action  = No Progress
  • If all you ever do is whine, complain and make excuses, people will stop wanting to be around you.
    • When someone feels their mood drop when you walk in the room, they will likely start actively avoiding you.
If you want to achieve great things in your life, start by knocking out all whining and excuses.  Neither serves any good purpose in your life and no one else wants to hear it anyway.

Challenge #4 – Eliminate Gossip.

 

 In any arena of life, gossip is self-serving and unnecessary.  There is very little ever to be gained, but much can be lost, both for the person(s) doing the gossiping and the one(s) being talked about.  That’s because Gossip:
  • Excludes – Gossip creates an us (the persons doing the gossiping) vs them (the people being talked about) atmosphere.
  • Ruins Reputations – What is being said during a gossip session is usually presented as 100% truth, but in reality usually lacks certain facts, reasons and circumstances.
  • Pulls Rank – Gossipers, whether intentionally or not, falsely present themselves as morally superior to the victim of gossip.
The way we talk about others can have a great impact on ourselves and our communities as a whole.  If you have an issue with someone, address it with that person directly and not with anyone else.  If you hear gossip, have the courage to speak out against it (or at least don’t contribute to it).  By doing so, drama in your life will go down…and that’s enough to make anyone happy!

Challenge #5 – Don’t Compare Yourself To Others.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  Think about it…you’re rolling along feeling pretty good about your life (you’ve got a comfortable home, a spouse loves you…sometimes in the most annoying ways, kids that you’ve managed to keep alive and fairly balanced, etc), and then you hop on FaceBook (or Heaven forbid, Pinterest).  Suddenly, you start questioning everything.  Your life looks quite blah compared to everyone else’s, and you wonder what you are doing wrong.  The problem with this is that you are only seeing highlights of other peoples’ lives on social media.  No one has it together all the time, I promise.  And if you are honest with yourself, you probably have a pretty nice highlight reel as well.Of course, we do this in real life, too.  We look at people who appear more capable in their jobs, home life, or in maintaining their health/fitness and suddenly feel like we aren’t good enough.  What we fail to remember in those times is that we are very likely comparing our beginning to that person’s middle (or our middle to their end).  Additionally, we each have our own set of strengths and weaknesses — you can’t fairly compare your weaknesses to someone else’s strengths.

The only person to whom it is fair to compare yourself is YOU!  When devising a plan for reaching your goals, it is important to recognize that the idea of “perfection” is the enemy, as it can never be achieved.  Instead, strive for “just a little bit better” each day.  Life happens on a continuum, and when we set ourselves up with “all or nothing” plans, we are doomed for failure.

I feel it’s important to address one more issue here.  Some of you reading may not understand this; if that’s you, feel free to skip right over it.

If you are the type of person who struggles with self-doubt and/or self-loathing, I need you to believe that you can be AMAZING!  Now let me clarify my definition of “amazing” — I’m not referring to the “perfection” we discussed earlier.  No, to me, “amazing” is the person who struggles mightily, but continues to show up every day in the pursuit of “just a little bit better”.  “Amazing” is the person who puts continual effort into the things that matter most.  What matters most?  Imagine you have just crash landed on a deserted island with only the few people in this world who love you absolutely unconditionally.  What would matter on that island?  Those are the things that matter most.

If you are doing everything you can – eating healthy, exercising, being nice to people, not whining, not gossiping – to be the best person that you can be physically, mentally and emotionally, then you have to be happy with who that person is.  If you aren’t currently doing everything you can, find ways to be “just a little bit better.”  Show up, and be amazing!

And don’t let comparison steal your joy!