If you were going to mark your happiness out of 10 what score would you give yourself?
Now be honest! And is that your general average state of happiness or do you fluctuate wildly according to matters of work, money, family, weather or the fortunes of your sports team? Does your general disposition keep you steady regardless of circumstances or is your state of mind heavily governed by events around you?
Since most people tend to sit within average settings of happiness rather than ballistic recordings of puppy-like joy one moment and a mental and physical crash the next, it maybe no surprise that most folks grade themselves 7/10. That either looks like a pretty solid score or proves there is a whole 30% to work on.
Now we’re well into 2015, and for many of us this means the Winter months are truly behind us. Also our New Year re-assessing, plotting and planning is several months behind us.
So how is that going?
I know I certainly resolved and pledged all sorts of things. It started the moment I ventured into my office at home after the festive season and was confronted by pages of half sketched ideas, intentions, partially read books, envelopes stuffed with receipts and more clutter than I remember accumulating. A sad reminder that I’m perhaps not always as organised as I could be.
And it’s something that, if I let it, will affect my happiness. What amplifies this sorry state is the fear that this could be just the way I am. Like anyone I make plans, get them into gear, clear the cobwebs and accelerate forwards… until bumping into the next accumulation of mental paperwork.
This can lead to a bit of a Scrooge moment where one of the visiting ghosts appears and shows him how life will be if he keeps on as he is. It is extremely painful for him. Scrooge changes and this positively affects everything around him too.
We can use the Christmas Carol moment as an exercise to change the habits and courses of our lives too and to steer them into the better and happier future we seek. It isn’t just about thinking our way into the much needed changes though, the process involves tapping into emotions and attaching all the discomfort and pain that trundling along on a wrong or poorly navigated course would cause. Do this and I believe we will find it much easier to get onto the right (happy) path.
So we’ve analysed and decided to make changes to upgrade our happy score but how dedicated are we to actually staying the course? Day-to-day life often takes over and another year down the line, for example, we could be still fumbling around with the same habits. Yet given enough pain and disgust at what many more years of the same old, same old will create we can take consistent action.
Perhaps we need a mantra a constant ‘be happy reminder’!
South Pacific has been in my thinking of late, no, not the sea, nor the islands but the musical and its songs and lyrics, such as, “Happy talk, keep talking happy talk, Talk about things you’d like to do, You got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” Now, those words make for sound advice. So when it comes to wanting to optimise your life in terms of happiness get your mental dream picture running in hi-definition, full colour 3D!
It’s very encouraging that happiness is a learnable emotion. Accordingly I believe that us exercisers are very fortunate in the happiness stakes. We all know that there is no instant solution to improving our fitness, body shape or muscle size – that takes weeks,months and years.
However, endorphins flow every workout and there is a mental lift and wonderful feeling of gratification created through our efforts and the investment of a some blood, sweat and some tears. This all breeds long-term satisfaction and a sense of reward from having a vision or a goal and working hard to realise it.
Fitness and shaping up is wonderfully measurable. we can feel and see differences relatively quickly and we can absolutely gauge our progress thanks to clocks, weight increments, heart rate monitors and the like. These are fabulous tools for bolstering our moods, delivering happiness and spurring us on to do more and be better.
Happiness in the full face of genuine, heartbreaking tragedy can seem like a very long way off. In fact it can seem like an impossible and even inappropriate emotion to ever entertain again. But you know what? It does surface again and it is a life propelling emotion that will not die.
So workout, rate your happiness score, have your Scrooge moment, embrace your ‘happy talk’ and learn to be as happy as you can be!