Let me start off by saying that sitting down to write a blog post on how to be happy is a daunting task. And, by the way, what’s it doing on a fitness blog? Are you just going to tell me to feel comfortable in my own skin? No—we’ve all heard that before, and everyone knows that it’s one of the things it takes to be happy. But, in my opinion, that’s neither the only—nor, even, the most important—element.
Why did I decide to suddenly write about being happy? What do I know about it, anyway? I’m only 26 years old, but I’ve already had some serious ups and downs in my life (have you seen my injury resume? That was a low). I’ve experienced different kinds of happiness, in different situations, with different people. I realized today, sitting at work with deadlines looming, covered in hives (after an apparent allergic reaction to antibiotics that treated a staph infection…long story), and my boyfriend 6,000 miles away, that I’m happy.
There are 4 fundamental elements to happiness, in my opinion, each one of them as important as the next, and all essential.
Do what you love. Find a reason to get excited about getting out of bed in the morning, something that will help you get through your 8-, 10-, 12-hour days at work. Whether that’s training for an upcoming race, learning a new language, cooking, traveling, or helping others, find something you love to do and grab it by the horns. Purpose and action toward bettering yourself or others do amazing things for the psyche. Getting excited about something makes that stay in the forefront, and all of the negativity takes a backseat.
Surround yourself with people who support you. I’m lucky to have an amazing family and friend structure. I, an introvert, tend to have a few close friends rather than a lot of acquaintances, but everyone works differently. No matter where you get your energy, make sure you have people in your life that are as excited about the things you love as you are. Be weird. They don’t have to understand you; what’s important is that they are excited to see you happy and passionate, and they love you for you.
If you don’t have a good support structure, find one. With all of the social networks out there, it’s incredibly easy to find people who have the same interests with you—probably, even, in your local area. Join a club; find an online community; take a class. The world is wide and full of many different types of people, all looking to find others like them.
Move more. This might seem biased, but you are reading a fitness blog, so you had to see this coming. Honestly, though, studies have shown a direct correlation between exercise and happiness (they’re called endorphins). I’m not saying you have to go to the gym and slog away on the treadmill (but hey, I like that, so why not?). Get outside and hike or bike. Join a soccer team, or a yoga class. Do tai chi in the park. Anything that gets the blood flowing will make you feel better about yourself, do wonders for your health, and just make you feel better, period. Plus, you’ll probably even get that “comfortable in your own skin” feeling I was talking about earlier.
Eat good food. If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that I do not deny myself those little (or big!) indulgences. I can say quite honestly that I am unhappy when I watch what I eat. That being said, “good” doesn’t necessarily mean “healthy,” and “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good. I enjoy eating fresh, delicious food, and I do believe that you get out of your body what you put into it. Simply put, the best kind of food is always REALLY tasty (and hey, a lot of that is healthy!). Hold high standards for your food, and you’ll always be happy with what you eat.
To recap: do what you love, find family and friends who support you in your passion and ambition, move, and eat well. It seems pretty simple, but it’s amazing how easy it can be to lose sight of what’s really important. When you’re happier, it shows in how you carry yourself, interact with others, and even how you perform at work.
So take a minute and think about it. What can you do that will truly make you happy? It may take a little trial and error, and you may hit upon the balance by dumb luck, but it’ll be worth it when you go to bed happy with your day’s events and wake up excited by the possibilities that lie ahead.