To be or not be: happy

When I read the news or turn on the TV I don’t really want to know all the details of beheadings, attacks and killings.  I can’t get away from it though. It’s everywhere, it’s sad and I pray for all affected. No one should have to experience such horrific events.  Yet they do because there are unhappy people everywhere.  What makes people happy or unhappy?  Alex and I discussed this recently in one of our many discussions.  Countless books have been written on this topic and gurus abound, but here is our take on how to be happy.

1 Acknowledge and accept that one cannot be happy 100% of the time, but believe that you can have more happiness than unhappiness. Like anything in life, accept the truth and move on.  It’s impossible to be happy all the time.  There will be times when you are sad, angry or feel blue.  These emotions will pass.  How fast they pass by depends on you.  This is a fact of life. When you acknowledge this and are no longer fixated on being happy all the time, you will have less stress.

2 Search for the true cause of the problem that is making you unhappy.  For each ‘unhappiness’ that you want to fix, you need to be able to find the true root cause of it.  If you don’t find the root cause, it will be like cutting weed without taking out the root.  The weed will come back. It may expand underground and resurface in different areas, but it will be back.

For example, most people, myself included, have some form of insecurity. As the german psychoanalyst Eric Fromm ( said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” We must find the cause of our insecurity and face it.  Insecurity can take many forms. A lot of people hide their insecurities through accumulation of material goods.  If they have so and so , x and x with this much value, people will ‘love’ or look up to them.  They don’t think they can be liked without their possessions.   Sometimes the insecurities come in the form of defensiveness.  I bet we’ve all experienced this where the other side just cannot accept any form of constructive criticism.  They feel insecure and threatened.

3 Really believe you can fix it.  It is in your power to fix it. The important thing is to ‘believe’ and make a plan.  A lot of people make the mistake of believing that problems can be fixed right away and result in immediate happiness, but more often than not results take time. A lot of time.

For example, a lot of people complain about work. They are unhappy and complain day after day, wishing that things were better, but do nothing to fix the problem.  Years go by and the unhappiness intensifies. What do you do to fix the problem? You could start by taking small steps to make it better.  See if you can improve the situation. Can you make the environment or do something to make it better?  Little by little the situation can and will be improved.  Be patient. The responsibility is in your hands.

What do you think makes one happy or not?

A Balancing Act

Sitting in my study looking out the window, I am still thinking about “The Descendants” I wrote about yesterday.  That movie was about a man, a successful lawyer and a land baron who had devoted all his time to his career, to making money only to later realize he had “lost” his family.  Although his wife was now seriously ill from a boating incident, he had lost her years ago.  They had ceased to talk, to spend time together, to go out and enjoy each other’s company.   They had grown apart.  His daughters, he had hardly seen and could hardly remember the last time he was alone with them.  They too had grown.  So that was Matt King who spent his life focusing on himself.  Then there are opposites:   those who spend their time completely devoted to other’s lives until they forget to have a life of their own.

It happens sometimes.    It happens more often than I would like to acknowledge.

It happens in relationships and in families.   They believe that family is number one and that nothing else is more important.  They find themselves unconsciously assimilated into the other person or persons.  They forget everything about themselves and focus entirely on the person or persons.   They must spend their time taking care of the family, taking care of their needs and anticipating their needs.   They serve each and every need in the belief that this is right.  This is the “right” thing to do.  This is what is “expected” of them.  They devote their entire time, their entire life to others.   Guilt prevails if they want to do something of their own.  Guilt, self-inflicted.   So the cycle continues, on and on.

Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying that it is a bad thing to care of others, it is good to take care of loved ones and people around us.  What is most important though is that there needs to be a balance.

There needs to be a balance between taking care of others and taking care of your own needs.

Your own needs are equally important, and your life is equally important.  You have dreams, you have desires and there are things you want to do, places you want to go.  Don’t push all your own needs out of sight and hide them somewhere deep inside your soul.  One day you might just erupt like Mount Vesuvius.

And when your erupt, or if you just stay dormant.  One day you may find yourself on your deathbed looking back on your life and thinking about all the things you could have done, all the things you wanted to do, and all the places you wanted to go.    You might feel a resentment at others, why they had done the things they wanted to do and did all they wanted to do.  Yet all these emotions come too late and your life has passed you by.  You will just have to wait for your next life to do the things you want to do.

Find a balance in your life.   Have some time of your own, have some time for others, have some time for your dreams.

Playing the Mind

My breakfast discussion this morning concerned attitudes and how most things in life depends on how you view and see things.  Definitely true.  While bicycling later on this past afternoon at the gym I read an article on how exercise is about setting goals and believing you can do it. Also very true.  I’ve experienced it myself and I know losing weight for me required first and foremost a change in attitudes and the way I perceived things.  You may think that achieving is mainly about reaching the goal, but in reality, how you get to the goal is really a process that involves a lot of changes in attitudes and how you think.

As we all probably know,  if you want to accomplish something, you have to set a goal.  What is it you really want in the end?  What is the end result?  This is simple enough.  To achieve anything we need a good and clear goal that is, of course, measurable.  Take for example losing weight.  I wanted to lose weight.  At first I wanted to lose only 5 kgs, but once the momentum started, I thought why not more?  Plus, there was also Alex who kept moving the target for me little by little.  Thank you 🙂

What I hadn’t realize at the time but eventually discovered later on was that before I actually started doing the actual running, the exercises and waking myself up in the wee hours of the morning to run, I had been going through a process of mental change.  A change that is to be instrumental in my path to a healthier me.

Talking with a friend the other day, she reminded me of how during my chubby days I used to tell her, “I don’t care if I’m fat, I enjoy eating.  I like eating and it doesn’t cause anyone any harm.  People should see me for me.”    Another friend said she dared not tell me I was getting big, she just invited me to the gym instead.  Now it’s something we can all discuss about openly.  I’ve changed and attitudes have changed.

What I said back then was “chubby me” talking.  “Chubby me” had taken over and ruled my chubby body.  I exercised, but I ate more than I burned.  I was happy, I did whatever I wanted, I just had trouble finding clothes.  Minor detail.  People were too obsessive about weight and beauty I thought.  Superficial wasn’t for me.

I didn’t owe a weigh scale and so never realized the extent of my weight gain.  I was living in denial.  When people commented on my weight, I’d ignore it and smile, but deep inside I did feel it.  I felt every word. Why won’t people just stop bothering me about my size?  Some even offered me money if I lost weight.  I thought it an insult.  Money cannot buy me. I kept on eating.

In reality, I just didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t think I could.  I was scared.  I was scared of what would happen if I lost the comfort of my chubby me.  Who would I be if not the chubby me I’ve always known?

The change started when one day I decided “no more.”  I don’t recall exactly the day but the trigger point was my birthday, hitting the thirties and realizing I wasn’t getting any younger. I didn’t have that much time left on earth.  Wrinkles were appearing and here I was still chubby.  It wasn’t cute anymore.

The first mental change occured with my deciding that it was something I really really wanted.  Not just a goal.  I had to really think hard about it.  I had to feel a passion for it.  I had to want it for myself, not for anyone else.  I had to not care about what others would think.

If you want it bad enough, you’d make it happen.  That’s exactly what “The Secret” is really all about.  Basically, if you are thinking about something all the time, your actions will be geared towards achieving that goal and you will see opportunities that previously you had ignored.

Another key point for me was buying a weigh scale.  I had to face up to the truth of my weight.  It’s not that easy.  I always blamed it on my broken machine that I never bothered to replace.  Buying a scale was a step closer to achieving the goal.  It set my mind towards losing weight.  The first time I stepped on it, I took a deep breath.

Finally to be successful, the secret is to really believe you can do it. Believe in yourself.  Believe that the goal is achievable and that you will reach it.  Envision yourself in that bikini or that sleeveless dress you always wanted.

Most will complain that it’s such a pain to lose weight.  They would ask me, “How can you go about being so strict on what you eat and not having unhealthy food?”   My answer is this:  I’d prefer to sacrifice six months of my life to not eating delicious fatty foods then spend the rest of my life forever “trying” to lose weight. 

I don’t know how many years of my life I’ve had losing weight as a resolution, but I know that for the second year of my life, I don’t have to worry about losing weight and can instead work on other resolutions.  To achieve something, it’s really just playing the mind. 

If it’s scared, if it doesn’t know what to do.  Tell it can, and you can.  Afterall, you’re the one in control 🙂

Cut the Creeping Lazy Vine

Many of us can be a little lazy when it comes to exercising or maintaining our health. Okay, not just “a little” we can be “very” lazy. It’s been over a year since I’ve lost the 15kgs worth of fat and so far I’ve been pretty good at maintaining it. I have not gained more than 2 kgs and when it goes up a kg or so, I push it down. I am, however, starting to feel the laziness creep up on me.

Since the New Years, moving house, unpacking, traffic, and whatever excuse I can think of, I’ve been waking up a little later each morning. I rush out to run yet it is losing steam. I sleep a little later each night which is terrible when I need to wake up early. In addition, when I come home each day the table is set full of food. Oh how tempting all this wonderful food is. When I insist on having fruits, worried looks appear. Perhaps I will be lacking some proteins or vitamins. One must surely eat more. I adhere for I do not want to disappoint (or so I tell myself when in fact I am tempted by the sweet aroma)

Yet all this is just excuses. I must not give in to my lazy bones and must get myself running at full steam. If I could do it before 4 times a week to lose weight, now 2 times a week should be easy peasy.

If you feel the lazy creeps start climbing up and shadowing the active energetic you, cut it down and let’s start exercising at full steam again. Get rid of those lazy bones. Set the clock before you sleep, when it rings, jump up, dress up and go. Do not put a second’s thought into it. Do not roll around in bed debating between going and staying. Just jump up and GO!

Okay, so now I must go and set my alarm clock. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my running days. Happy running everyone!