Monsters, Habits & Happiness

July 17, 2010

There is an interesting article on the link between diet, exercise & happiness on The Happiness Project blog.

Unhappiness comes from Desires versus Actions

I found this really powerful:  “When there is disconnect between our desires and our actions, unhappiness ensues.”  -Adam Gilbert

[pullquote]”When there is disconnect between our desires and our actions, unhappiness ensues.”  -Adam Gilbert[/pullquote]

Reading that quote you can tell I’m gonna like this guy, because I’ve become increasingly convinced that the process of weight loss can become a process of increasing happiness in life.  Not that losing weight makes you happier – that I totally reject – but for most of us, losing weight is an Important Goal for many reasons, and doing the work to achieve any Important Goal increases happiness.  Unlike many goals, weight management is a continual process, not a project where you can mark it “done” and move on (discussed in my recent post on regaining & weight maintenance…).

One of the ways I’m approaching the “weight/happiness alignment” (ooh, I like that!) is by putting more focus on the Positive while I lose weight.  Focusing on foods I want to eat more of (colors of vegetables, etc) and focus enjoying the process by thinking about things that make me happy, daily pleasures, and greater appreciation day to day.

Habits Habits Habits

He goes on to talk about other views he has on habits, how to build them, etc : “I choose (more so, try) to focus on what I can control (my attitude, my actions, my habits, etc.) and try really hard to love what is and accept what I can’t control (what’s the alternative?).”

A good philosophy for all of us, right?  Pretty much a restatement of the Serenity Prayer, but it’s a good prayer & deserves repeating!

For me, at least, it evokes an ideal which is hard to achieve but very much worth working towards.   I particularly like the emphasis he makes on actions and habits, as I am starting to think about habits more and more these days – in particular about being more aware of the habits I want to change, and the habits I’d like to have (and therefore need to work towards).

Monsters aren’t so scary?

Sun Point
Creative Commons License photo credit: NomadicLass

In another part of the interview Adam talks about  “monsters” :

I think one of the biggest reasons we don’t take the action we really want to take is because we build this monster up in our head. Whether it’s doing all the laundry that has accumulated, making that difficult phone call or getting back into an exercise routine, 100% of the time when we attack the monster, be it the “laundry monster,” “exercise monster,” or whatever else it might be, it’s never as scary as we think it’ll be.

I must confess, I’m not as sold on the “monster” idea, because it makes it sound okay to think about diet, and exercise, as  scary and mean and nasty.

For me at least, getting to a long-term healthy weight without stressing out about it and obsessively watching each calorie in and each step taken means I need to not see diet & exercise as monsters, but rather as friends and partners in achieving & living the life I want.

I also don’t really accept the concept of things “not being as scary as we think it is”.  I don’t think we are well served by people telling us that diet, exercise or any other change can be easy.  The bottom line is that all change is hard.   I’m an adult.  I know some things are hard, others are easy.  Hard doesn’t mean impossible, nor that it’s not worth the effort.  Personally I prefer to know something I’m facing is hard & thus I am mentally prepared for a Big Effort versus someone telling me it should be easy and then feeling like something is wrong with me when I don’t find it easy at all.

All in all, an interesting read if you have time to click over to it!

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