Own Your Happy
Last fall, I went through a few months where I was in a bit of a funk. After I came down with pneumonia, I could no longer exercise, and became quite lethargic. Even after I had mostly recovered, the only activity I was getting was my cycling commutes. But more than that, a few personal incidents had taken me down. Nothing major was wrong, but cumulatively, I wasn’t feeling the joy. One night at the end of October, I ate a large bag of chips for dinner, and observed myself in horror. I hadn’t done that in seven years. When I was losing my battle with my eating disorder, chips were my drug of choice. I knew in that moment that I needed to take action. It was time to take ownership of my happiness.
On Hallowe’en, I went and visited some friends, and finally admitted how I was feeling. Having that conversation allowed me to acknowledge the problem, which was the first step to moving on from it. I also find that friends are often helpful when I’m making plans and coming up with strategies to create change in my life, even if just as sounding boards.
Taking ownership of my happiness meant actively seeking and doing the things that bring me the most joy, and eliminating the things that do the opposite. When I realized that I was losing control of my eating disorder, I knew that the first step in my happiness strategy would be to start counting calories again, and get back to playing in the kitchen. I had been opting for lazy quick food and was out of the cooking habit. When I returned to my typically healthy way of cooking and eating, I immediately started feeling better.
In the past, I used to work out in the evenings, but with a full and erratic evening schedule, I knew that I needed to start working out in the mornings in order to create a consistent, sustainable habit. Mornings, however, have always been a serious challenge for me. So, I leveraged daylight savings time to start getting up earlier, and became disciplined about bedtime in order to set myself up for success. When I started regularly swimming again, I felt incredible. The pool is my happy place, and it was so wonderful to be reunited with it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I also embarked on a 30 day activity challenge in order to re-set myself and get my mind in a good place. I find that giving myself a challenge of this type at the beginning of a renewed commitment to health gives me something to really drive toward. I felt incredible, and it supported me in making better choices in general during that time.
Beyond food and exercise, I also made an intentional effort to do the things that made me happy. From renewing my focus on my blog, to beginning two different creative writing projects, to making a concerted effort to get together with friends and family, I filled my life with the people and things that I loved. In October, I spent most weekends on the couch watching netflix (some of this time because I was quite sick), but I could have just as easily been writing, or reading, or making another healthier, more productive choice. Once I started making those choices, my life immediately improved.
I took ownership of my happiness, knowing that I am the catalyst of my own joy. Sometimes, it isn’t easy, but it also isn’t easy to feel down, heavy, and lethargic. Happiness grows exponentially. The more that you focus on what brings you joy, the easier it becomes to make healthy choices. Only a few months after realizing I needed to take action, I’m on top of the world. My life is full and incredible. I am active five days a week, extremely social, cooking up a storm, dating happily, and living the life of my dreams. So, my friends, what have you done today to take ownership of your happiness?
Me, I’m hitting the pool.