Photo by Winj Capital
You’re at the gym minding your own business and a girl walks up to you.
“Do you want to hear about my fitness journey?” She asks. Cheerfully. Authoritatively.
Your eyes rake over the stranger in front of you. Her body is… well, she’s probably what you’d consider somewhat above averagely in shape, but she’s no Brittany Dawn Fitness or Sjana Elise. You probably know just as much as she does about workouts and nutrition.
“Umm, I-I’m good,” you say, a little flustered. You don’t want to offend her, but you also don’t need unsolicited advice from someone who looks ever-so-slightly-above-averagely fit. You may as well just go to the experts.
“Are you sure?” says the girl. “I used to weigh 300 pounds.”
Your jaw almost hits the grubby, thin-carpeted gym floor.
I am the girl at the gym.
When it comes to happiness, to confidence, to living the moment with joy, I–at long, long, long last–consider myself “above average.”
Above average. No, that may not be the most impressive thing you’ve ever heard. But considering that I used to weigh a metaphorical 300 pounds, “above average” is a victory. Getting from 300 pounds down to a healthy weight takes mental discipline, consistency, and the openness to learn. It takes the ability to bounce back from failure after failure. The same is true of becoming happier.
So what do you say? Are you open to hearing from the girl at the gym? Let’s take a cool-down walk on the treadmills and chat.
1. I Dated and Married a Happy Man
Whoa, girlfriend, don’t go anywhere! I see you maneuvering your cursor toward that red X in the corner because you spy some major cheesiness on the horizon. While this isn’t another love story about Stephen Trevathan, there is a reason this item is first on my list.
When you spend years being close with someone (whether or not it’s a romantic relationship) who is abundantly, contagiously, and stubbornly happy, it is bound to rub off on you―IF you stop fighting it.
Who is the happiest person you know? Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, sibling, cousin, friend, lover or mere acquaintance, I’d advise spending more time with them and being open to what they have to say.
The part about being open is important because if you’re naturally a more dark, brooding person (*hand-raising emoji*) excessive happiness can really piss you off at first. It can seem inauthentic or juvenile or naive. I know this because when I was younger I frequently felt those ways about my now-husband and other Happiness Champions. Sometimes they’re “too much.” Sometimes you assume their life must just naturally be easier than yours. Sometimes you think their head is in the clouds. Sometimes you think they were born with some kind of happiness gene that you weren’t blessed with. Sometimes happy people come off as insensitive when you want to complain about something for 37 hours and they get to the point when they just can’t listen to you anymore because having a whiny victim mindset is so far removed from their realm of reality.
I cannot count the amount of times I actually put Stephen’s joyfulness in a negative category. The times I thought it made him less complex or less serious. The instances during college when I bundled it into the same category as the fact that he didn’t care as much as I did about grades or that he sometimes prioritized what I felt were the wrong things. (For example, prioritizing a 3pm beer + television over going to class. Sorry to call you out, babe!)
Fastforward a few years and Stephen found his work ethic outside of an academic setting. Fastforward a few years and I, Queen of Good Grades and All Things Serious, lived primarily off of my husband’s income for over two years. Income from a career that Stephen built with serious intention and mountains of joyful enthusiasm.
If you’re thinking “Duh! Of course you can be hardworking and intentional and joyful all at the same time!” then you have never been 300 proverbial pounds, my dear reader. What may seem obvious to some was a journey for me.
Looking back, I don’t really know what it was that make me so austere. I don’t know what made me think having goals had to make you miserable, that being responsible came at the cost of being vibrant, that being successful meant you had to be blindly invested in what others thought of you. But I sure am glad I learned otherwise.
2. I Realized That Negative People Get Left Behind In Regret And Lost Opportunity
Negative people get left in the dust; they become victims of their own victim mindsets.
Sometimes I wish I could redo certain parts of my life. I wish I could get to know some of my more exuberant sorority sisters who at the time I instantly judged as shallow, spoiled or ditsy. (While simultaneously terrified of them and worried they wouldn’t like me anyway… It’s amazing how judgement and insecurity actually go hand in hand.)
Sometimes I wish I could relive certain moments of college, of the two years in San Francisco, of my summer in New York without the constant anxiety over the future, the crippling fear of what people thought of me, and analyses of whether or not the sky was falling.
I wish I could have back certain conversations and re-experience certain people, especially the ultra joyful people with whom I just couldn’t fully identify at the time I knew them.
I wish I could rewind and start being one of the joyful people sooner.
But at the same time, I don’t wish those things. Rather than regretting the unhealthy mindset of the past, I can be proud of the fact that I fought off so many of those 300 pounds. I can keep surrounding myself with positive people and keep doing my best to be one of them.
Stay Tuned for Part 2! I’m talking about getting my ass kicked by life and other fun stuff.
In the meanwhile, here are some recent purchases and Wishlist items: