I am making a splash today with #3 in my Body Image series.
Because I coach intermediate runners I have occasion to work with people who do not occupy what they envision to be their optimal bodies quite yet. There are various body goals they may have. They may want to get thinner, have more muscle tone, be more flexible, or have better heart health, to name just a few. Since they have already made the choice to join a running program I take that to also mean they have made a decision to do something deliberate to achieve their goals. I encourage them, do my part in training them, explain as best I can what I think will help them achieve these goals. I truly want them to be who they want to be and I love helping them get there.
But there is something else I work on with them. And that is joy and happiness. I believe achieving goals can increase one’s happiness. But I also believe you don’t arrive at a body goal (or any other type of goal) and suddenly find happiness waiting there for you. As odd as it sounds, one needs to train for happiness, just like for an awesome body.
For example, the joy in doing a cannonball in a pool is primarily in the fun of doing it. If you are big and round, it is still fun. If you are skinny and boney, it’s still fun. If you are 60 years old it’s fun, if you are 20 years old it’s fun. Now, it is true you might enjoy the walk to the diving board more if you are happy about your body shape. It is true you might be less self-conscious about something if you have the body you want. But if you want to experience fun you shouldn’t wait until you are ‘perfect’ to experience it. Suffer that bit of self-consciousness if you must because the act of doing that fun thing will show you, again and again, that your self-consciousness can be overcome, it can be put in it’s place.
But if you wait for that ‘perfection’ then while you are practicing and training your body to be it’s best you are continuing to train your mind to think it’s not. You are continuing to tell yourself that joy and fun and happiness is dependent on you being the right weight, or the right tan color, or the right bra size and that is not true. You actually may intellectually know it is not true, just as you know intellectually you will be in better shape if you run or work out. But that knowledge will remain academic and intellectual, unproven and unpracticed, unless you practice the happiness action the same way you practice the physical action.
In other words, train your joy and happiness as well as your body, then both will be in great shape!
How do you train your happiness and joy?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Rosalind Russell, 1907-1976, American actress. Her autobiography is titled, ‘Life is a Banquet’.