By Daniel Reynen Citizen Columnist
Icall it the happiness trap. Before I start training a new client, I ask them a series of questions. I want to find out more about their goals, what motivates them and their current health. One of the questions I ask is, "What makes you happy?"
Almost always, the answer is something external. People tell me about the food, money or possessions that make them happy. Each of those answers provides valuable insight into what motivates a person, and what I can do to get the best results from them. But "things" rarely lead to lasting happiness.
Have you ever told yourself you'd be happy if you "just lost 20 pounds," "got the latest gadget" or "were given a promotion"? That's a typical response. Unfortunately, it puts the burden of happiness on something outside yourself. Instead of taking responsibility for your feelings, you're surrendering to the whims of external forces.
Meanwhile, if you settle for the life you have, you feel badly about it. You get depressed because the gap between what you have and what you want is so wide.
News flash: Happiness depends on how you feel about yourself. It's not something that can be bestowed on you from the outside. It doesn't come in a pill, partner or promotion.
Make no mistake. I don't believe there's anything wrong with aspiring to greater things. But if you really want to be happy, you've got to learn to appreciate what you have while improving yourself. Here's how to combine your goals with your current situation.
Instead of putting your life on hold until you lose weight, celebrate when you start a workout program. Get excited about daily walks to better your body. Look forward to discovering healthy food alternatives. Feel good about getting friends to join you and share your fitness journey. Be happy about the things you're doing as you move forward.
When things aren't moving as fast as you'd like, celebrate the little victories. Did you only lose one pound a week instead of two? That's great! After 10 weeks you'll be 10 pounds lighter. If you hadn't started any program, you'd be 10 pounds heavier.
Results aren't the only thing that make us happier. Researchers have found that the simple act of exercising releases endorphins that elevate our mood. Even before you start to see any measurable benefit to your physical health, just moving your body can lead to a happier state of mind.
When the day is over, get some sleep. The more sleep people get, the happier they tend to be. In a remarkable study done at the University of Michigan, researchers found that getting one additional hour of sleep at night made a person happier than increasing their salary by $60,000 a year. Infants, toddlers, school children and seniors should all try and get nine to 10 hours of sleep a night. Adults should attempt eight hours a night.
Sometimes you'll be taking steps to improve, but nothing seems to be happening. That's when you need to start a gratitude journal. Every night, before you go to bed, list at least five positive things that happened during the day. It doesn't matter if those things are big or small. Your job is to identify at least five.
Did you eat at least one healthy meal? Good! Have a nice conversation with a friend? Great! Find an awesome parking space? Fantastic!
Being thankful about the little things in your life can help you learn how to identify and be grateful for the big stuff. All those small gratitudes add up and can keep you motivated until bigger changes kick in.
Combine the excitement about what you're doing with clearly defined actions to improve yourself, and you'll start to experience happiness everywhere you turn. Quit waiting for someone or something to alter your feelings. Take responsibility and become the change you expect of others. Your happiness is in your hands.
CAUTION: Before beginning any exercise program check with your doctor first. For a free consultation with a WeBeFit Trainer call 305-296-3434. Read all our articles online at www.WeBeFit.com and get updates by "liking" us on Facebook.