Picture this scenario if you will: one morning you wake up, swing your feet out of bed and notice you’re swimming in your pyjamas. You rush to a mirror and find to your sheer delight that somehow all of the excess fat on your body has melted away overnight! You stand there admiring yourself. The fact that (for the first time ever) you literally don’t have anything to wear to work doesn’t even put a dent in your pure joy. Now everything will fall into place. Now you can finally be happy.
It’s a fantasy I’ve certainly indulged in—but what comes next? Do you also magically turn into a person who exercises regularly and makes consistent healthy choices that will maintain your new weight? Would you truly appreciate and seek to preserve a thing that came so easily to you? Even though you would fit into a smaller clothing size, would you feel like a smaller person, or would you still gravitate to the plus-sized section and feel insecure playing with your kids at the pool? The truth is, there’s a reason changes don’t happen overnight, and overnight success doesn’t lead to happiness.
“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”
It’s actually the journey towards a meaningful goal and the personal growth that comes with it that creates happiness in our lives, one satisfying step at a time.
You Can’t Skip The Grey
“How I despised living in that grey space between who I was and who I wanted to be.”
There’s this phenomena called “post-achievement depression.” Someone achieves something they’ve worked long and hard for, like graduating from university, getting a promotion at work or losing 50 pounds. Coming off the initial high of success, sometimes there’s an inexplicable depression that can settle in. They sacrificed so much believing that when they reached that big goal they would finally feel fulfilled and genuinely happy. But for some reason, the euphoria of finishing is short-lived and the expected happiness just isn’t there. Accomplishing the goal is not the issue, attaching your happiness to achieving it is. Goals aren’t meant to be destinations, they should be guideposts we set up for ourselves along the journey that ensure we’re moving in the right direction.
Accomplishing the goal is not the issue,
attaching your happiness to achieving it is.
True happiness is found in learning to appreciate the steps between the guideposts. It’s those daily successes that mould you and propel you forward toward the goal you are trying to achieve. In order to arrive at your goal as a matured person who will maintain the success and continue to push forward you need to lean in to the grey space between where you are and where you want to be. Make the most of it. Celebrate the small successes. Practice incorporating habits into your daily life that will set you up for future success. Don’t fight the wait, instead allow yourself to learn patience and endurance in the hard times when it feels like you will never reach your goal:
“Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.”
There are no shortcuts. Patience and endurance equip you to cross the finish line, but they can only be developed in the day-in-day-out monotony between your goals.
Have you been attaching your happiness to a future big goal like finally losing the excess weight? Start to set smart smaller goals that will develop the qualities and habits required to accomplish your larger one. For instance, you can make your goal to go for a 20 minute walk every day for one week or make a healthier choice for breakfast every day for a week. Every time you check off a small goal, celebrate your success! Do a little happy dance – you are developing patience and endurance. You may want to keep a journal so that you can look back a week or a month ago and remember how far you’ve come. Remember, INNER SUCCESS PRECEDES OUTER SUCCESS!
Choose Happiness TODAY
I don’t have to wait to be skinny to finally be happy. As long as I am consistently making good choices and moving in the right direction, I can feel content right where I am. The truth is, we are only going to follow our best intentions for eating and exercise when it’s less about losing weight and more about the quality of our daily lives.
Happiness is found in the climb.
Happiness is found in the climb, the small satisfactions of a job well done along the way, not in the destination. Happiness is not found in a clothing size or number on the scale – happiness is creating the ritual of regular exercise you enjoy, getting enough sleep, keeping yourself hydrated, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing you ate in a nourishing way today. Happiness is also being loving and gentle with yourself on the journey even when things aren’t going your way.
“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Ultimately, happiness is found in a vital relationship with Jesus, because even when you’re stuck in a rut of not exercising and making poor choices – He loves you exactly where you are and offers hope for a better tomorrow. You can “make it through anything in the One who makes you who you are.”
Try the “Love Diet.” Instead of imposing new rules on yourself as a form of punishment for former eating habits, start to make loving yourself the basis of your health decisions. Start with accepting yourself right where you are. Next, begin to think about practices that you can begin to incorporate into your daily life that will support your mind, body and spirit. Think of these new practices as choices rather than rules. Ask yourself, “is this choice in line with my true desire for living my best life?”
Happiness Along the Path
“Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found… Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.”
Happiness is found in walking the path of God’s commands. Only He can keep us on course and out of danger. Only He knows what awaits us around the bend. Weight loss does NOT equal or guarantee happiness and it shouldn’t be your sole focus or goal. It should be a symptom of making positive daily decisions for your spirit, soul and body.
Weight loss should be a symptom of making
positive daily decisions for your spirit, soul and body.
Weight loss truly is a worthless endeavour in and of itself. But when you align your path with one of following Jesus, the character building, patience and discipline that come from the struggle have eternal value. When your life is at an end and your friends and family are gathered to remember you, will they talk about how you lost those 50 pounds and what an amazing accomplishment that was, or will they talk about how you followed Jesus even when it was hard and left a legacy of faith and perseverance in your wake?
Don’t make the mistake of attaching your happiness to the peak. Instead, find it in the growth that has come from climbing toward the peak. Give yourself a minute to stop and take in the view right where you are. Think about how only a few months or years ago you were back at the base of the mountain and overwhelmed by the climb ahead of you. Here you are, maybe a little worn and tired, but HERE, none the less. With Jesus as your guide you can be confident that you can keep moving upward, no matter the obstacle. And when you do wake up one morning at your goal weight, keep pushing forward with Him and discover the new heights of growth and accomplishment that you never imagined possible.
What is one thing that you can celebrate and be happy about your health right now? Share with us in the comments below!