Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Happiness Variable

I pirated this picture from our local newspaper on Thanksgiving weekend after Tyler, TJ, and I ran the Drumstick Dash, a local 5k raising money for the Rescue Mission of the Roanoke Valley. This picture constitutes a number of my happiness variables-family, running, being outside, community involvement, and spending time with friends. Many other things make me happy, but these are among the top variables that on any given day bring me joy. 

So, I participate in several public speaking engagements each year for various organizations, some for my employer, some for a speaker's bureau I contract with out of New York who sends me referrals from mostly corporate wellness speaking requests. Anyway, all of my presentations have to do with some permutation of, you guessed it, fitness and physical activity. My two largest presentation audiences (150+) were in 2011 for a regional medical conference of mostly physicians, nurses, and other allied healthcare professionals, the other the Virginia Banker's Association state conference (one of my contracted presentations). While the presentation content varied given to whom I was speaking, some of the qualitative feedback I received from both was virtually identical. People made comments like 'wow, very profound, I am so thankful for you' and 'you have inspired me to make a change in my life, thank you', and other similar comments.

Now, I'm by no means a perfect public speaker, nor do I know everything there is to know about health and wellness. What I do know is that I led both presentation with the same question to the audience and the presentation flowed from there. Again, the directions were somewhat different based on my medical vs. banking audiences, but the lead-off question went like this:

Are you happy? Did you wake up this morning excited about something in your life or some part of your day? 

I think it is important that you remember you deserve to be happy. You don't have to be enthusiastic necessarily, or in cases of acute sleep deprivation or illness, etc. there will be an ebb and flow in overall mood. But in general, are you happy? When you answer, where do your answers take you? In relationship to the pursuit of health, I think it is vital that we reflect on this question before moving forward on other behavioral changes. To answer this question is to address the underlying current of what moves you or what keeps you standing still, as it were.

I felt compelled to my experiences with these groups because I see so many people making efforts toward healthier lives when ultimately they do not seem happy. While some people find happiness in this pursuit of health, many others fall further in despair and frustration when their efforts turn futile. The 'yo-yo' of up and down, perhaps multiple times in succession, certainly takes a toll on your willpower as well as your metabolism. Some succumb to the lures of quick-fixes and gimmicks, spending money on top of time and effort again for a distraction from meaningful change.

While I love to tout the benefits of physical activity as a cure-all for many woes, ultimately the happiness variable is the key element of choices made with consistency. I am oversimplifying a very complex "equation", but in my observations, the folks who choose to find daily joy are the ones who maintain the most consistent health and healthy lifestyles. So, for what it's worth, you should you know you deserve happiness and joy. Every person is deserving of joy. Remember this and hopefully it will help you in your wellness journey :)

1 comment:

  1. This is great and I could not agree more! Happiness is a choice and it comes only with a grateful heart. I am thankful we are friends you blessed me this am with this post!