Monday, September 8, 2014

The Happiness Challenge

It breaks my heart when a patient underestimates their abilities or self worth.  Sometimes I feel like a patient is scared I am judging them when I mention being more active or eating healthier.  I speak a lot about proper nutrition and healthy eating.  I talk about it because I want to be able to help people live a healthier lifestyle.  What I do not talk about is being skinny or "ripped" or looking better.  I do not believe our self worth is graded on those characteristics. I do not like someone better because they are skinny.  I like someone better if they have good energy, have a desire to be a better person, and genuinely care about others.

No one is perfect.  No One.  In the pursuit of perfection, one will ultimately end up frustrated and unfulfilled.  There is no reason to strive for perfection.  I encourage the pursuit of happiness and self love.  If you have the ability to love yourself, you will find true happiness.  You will be able to love greater, enjoy more, and let go of what you can't control. 

Take a look at what you dislike in your life, whether it is your weight, your job, your car, etc.  What would make you happy?  If you lost 5 pounds?  If you didn't have to work?  If you drove a fancy car?  Picture yourself happy.  What does that look like?  I can't do it.  I don't know how to draw a picture of myself happy.  Being truly happy comes from an emotional state of enjoying a moment in time...forgetting whatever is bothering me...letting go of those things I can not control.  If I picture myself 5 pounds lighter, I'm not happier, I'm just thinner.  If I want to be happy, I would be listening to my husband tell my daughter a bed time story.  I would be watching my sister laugh with my niece at the beach.  I would see my best friend running in the dunes alongside me. 

I spent a large part of my life wishing I was skinnier.  No matter how much weight I would lose, I was never happier.  Ever.  There was always something more I could do.  About 3 years ago, I decided I wanted to be a good role model for my daughter when it came to being healthy.  I changed my diet - by not dieting.  I choose to eat whole foods for the most part and eating less than healthy foods in moderation.  I don't comment about my body unless it is in a positive way (as much as possible).  I do not use the words skinny, fat, chubby, etc. to talk about my or my daughter's body.  I use the words strong, healthy, and beautiful.  Our bodies are beautiful.  Every single one of them, no matter what size.  If you think about how they work and the amazing systems that control our movements, our digestion, healing processes, and growth....it's a miracle and should be looked at with awe, not judgment.  I focused on what would make me happier - being a healthy role model for my daughter and stopped obsessing over my own body image.  What happened after that was amazing.  I started enjoying things more.  I felt more alive.  My relationship improved with my husband.  Parties became more enjoyable.  I started to listen more.  I started to live more.

Don't get me wrong, I am a woman and I still have my insecurities.  But, knowing that they do not define who I am helps me get out of a funk much faster than before.  I still have days when I don't like my outfit or how I look in the mirror.  It's those days that I must remind myself that I am beautiful on the inside and out.  I have a kind heart and a desire to help others.  My body does not reflect who I am.  In the past, if I left the house not liking my reflection in the mirror, it would affect my entire day.  I was probably not the nicest person to everyone, not because of them, but because of what I was feeling about myself.  I make a conscious effort to give myself a pep talk if I find I'm not loving that person in the mirror.  I tell myself the exact opposite of what I'm feeling.  And it helps.  We really are our worst critics and we shouldn't be.  We should be our greatest supporter.  We should be reminding ourselves how great we are each and every day.  Not in a self-absorbed, cocky way, but in an encouraging, self-loving way.  If you don't love yourself, how can anyone else? 

I know this post a little bit all over the place, which in reality, is probably the most true representation of who I am.  My goal in writing this was to encourage those that do not understand how much damage they are doing to not only themselves, but to those around them by pursuing happiness through a quantitative goal.  Happiness cannot be measured by any one thing.  Being skinnier, having more money, having the nicest car....none of it will equal happiness.  How you treat yourself will directly start to impact how you treat others and have more of an effect on your happiness than anything else.  At least in my opinion and experience.   

Life does not always follow the path that we thought we would walk down.  In fact, sometimes, the greatest gifts will result from some of our darkest days.  If you never learn to let go of those demons and start living, you may miss the one thing that makes the rest of your life complete.  Take a deep breath, open your mind and allow yourself to just live and be who you are.  Accept yourself, accept your most annoying traits and embrace your best qualities.  I leave you with a challenge.  I challenge you to tell yourself one positive thing in the mirror every morning before you leave the house for one month straight.  See what happens.  It can be the same thing or you can change it daily based on what you need to hear.  Tell yourself what you wish your spouse, your kids, or your friends would say to you.  Send me an email and let me know if it changed anything.  Good luck!