Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happy

I know I use these pictures ALL the time, but they are perfect for this post!!!

I found myself watching a documentary about happiness this weekend, called Happy. As I was watching this documentary, it made me reflect pretty significantly on my life and athleticism for so many reasons. I believe I am a very happy person. I have moments of sadness, but who doesn't? The movie confirmed why, although I have my moments, in my core, I am a truly happy person. Although, I think my mom wins the happiness prize!!!

I have to admit, as I write this post, I am all 'doped' up on dopamine, from my 11 mile run yesterday and 36 mile bike ride today. Aerobic exercise is the best way to release dopamine. I'm sure you knew that...

Anyway, back to the movie. In this movie, I basically relearned what I already knew. First, money and happiness do not have a correlation. Psychologists all agree that basic needs have to be met (food, shelter, etc.) to live with true happiness, but the reality is, your state of mind is based on your experiences.

I could go into a discussion about how your socioeconomic class impacts your happiness but then you might have to read, at great length, about how people with different incomes experience love differently. Trust me when I say, you don't want me to write about this, because it might be a 100 page blog.

So here is where I start talking about the difference between joy and happiness, and my athleticism...

First of all, joy and happiness are two very different things. I knew this, but the movie just confirmed my theory. Basically, happiness is a state of being, while joy is an experience. Take for example, crossing the finish line of your first 5k, half marathon, full marathon, half iron-man, basically whatever is your thing. You probably felt elated, right? And then you come down from that elation over the next couple of weeks, and to go through the post 'event' blues or back into your original state of being. That state of being may have been either happy or sad. The reason for this, is that the feeling of joy only lasts for a short period of time. In the movie, they also talk about the exact opposite. OK Cubs fans, this is when I start talking directly to you... You might have your special team and they lose that pivotal game. Cubs fans, game 7 of the National League Championships in 2003 ring a bell? You were sad, disheartened, and whatever other emotions went along with that... And then? Two days later, your life moved on and you were back to normal.

All of this is important because, just because you have moments of joy, doesn't mean you are a happy person, it simply means you had a moment of joy. I wrap those little gifts up and hold on tight because they are all memories that are worth remembering. But what is more important for becoming a truly happy person, is this... Doing things because you want to, or you can. Compassionate people, people who run for fun, cycle for fun, play dungeons and dragons for fun (OK so not fun for me), garden for fun, or do any of these things, simply because they want to, truly are giving themselves a better opportunity to reaching the state of happiness.

Another thing that really struck a cord for me in the movie 'Happy' is that, often, when people have a traumatic experience in their life, depending on how they deal with that experience, the outcome could be fantastic. I was diagnosed with MS in the last year. My family and friends have listened to me wallow in my sadness over the unpredictability of the disease, but the greatness that came out of the diagnosis has been pretty phenomenal (one of my friends might chuckle at this because I do think I cried for about 2 miles of our 11 mile run yesterday). I have the best friends, I'm closer with my family, I enjoy every second with my nieces and nephews, every time I run I am excited because I can do it! These are simple joys that I may have skimmed over in the past. Even more pivotal is that I still seek out those new experiences and stretch myself, my mind, my body to the core. Why do I do these things? Simply because I can.

So remember that post from a couple of weeks ago, entitled 'Why Bother'? This is why I bother. I get to spend time with people that I truly appreciate and love. I get to do something simply because it feels good and there are no strings attached. It all helps me to reach the ultimate state of happy.

And now, for those Pharrell Williams fans, I'll let him take it away:


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Sarah! I hadn't really thought about the difference between momentary joy and happiness before. ;)

    ReplyDelete