“what does happy look like? Does that include a job where fitness goals and dog play time balance exists? Are there ways in which certain ‘obligations’ pull you from what makes you happy? How can you change that?”
At first, I thought the answer was easy, and I still do, but I think it may take some explanation. I think happiness is a choice, and based on that, happiness looks like…well, everything. There are some things that make me happier than others, such as playing with my pups, or spending time with my nieces and nephews. But those things do not dictate my overall happiness.
Sure, in my mind I have this image, where I get up at 5:30am, rested and refreshed, let the pups out, hit the gym or the pool or the bike trainer. Get home, feed my extremely well-behaved pups, feed myself, get a shower, work from 9-5, maybe take the pups for a walk, or a run (in this fantasy world, I can actually run.) Prepare a nice healthy dinner, relax with a book or a movie and get to bed at a reasonable hour. On the weekends, I would run a quick 5 or 10k, do long training rides or runs, then spend time with friends or family. I’d go to church on Sunday morning and spend the afternoon relaxing. The house would be clean, no dishes in the sink and the laundry would be folded and put away.
I have to be honest and tell you how hard I laughed writing the above paragraph. This could not be father from the reality of my life! I don’t have a set schedule with my job, and some people think that gives me the freedom to pretty much do anything I want…yea…not so much. Some days start at 4am, some start at noon. Some end at 6pm, some just don’t end. 24-hour work days happen, in fact I logged a 43-hour day a couple months ago. Some weeks I’m home, some I’m on the road. Most days, I at least think about the gym, or at least read about the workouts my friends get done. Some days I eat well, some days I eat pizza and some days I simply don’t eat.
In the fantasy world, I can go shopping with my sisters and we can trade outfits or shoes. We swap jewelry and recipes. We discuss our days at yoga class and make plans for the weekend. We run together and laugh and joke and complain about one thing or another.
The reality is that I’m more than twice as big and somewhere around 4-8” taller than any of my sisters. I’m unable to fit into standard women’s clothing and shoes. I don’t really cook (not be confused with I can’t cook) and while I occasionally make poor attempts at yoga, it’s not usually in public. I may go a month without seeing or talking to them and all of them can walk faster than I run.
My point here is not that my fantasy world is somehow better and therefore would make me happier than reality. Once upon a time, in my younger years, I thought I had to be slim and fit and wealthy and successful and all the things that society told me I needed to be in order to be happy. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that being happy has nothing to do with any of those things. For me, happiness is a positive outlook, a perspective, regardless of where I am, or what’s happening to me at any given time. Yes, there are things in life that do not make me happy…bridges…no happiness there. But the happiness comes when I’m off the bridge.
So what does happiness look like and what does it include? It looks like me and it includes my life…and all of the chaos that it has.