Monday Motivation: The Secret to Happiness

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

My husband and I watch a lot of reality TV, particularly shows like Intervention and Teen Mom (yep, he watches Teen Mom willingly). A lot of the stories get me on my soapbox, and I start ranting. If I happen to keep quiet, my husband asks, “What does Heather-psychology tell us this person should do?” It’s simple really, and I feel like this flow-chart explains it – maybe even a little more on the politically correct end of the scale.

My psychology? Don’t like something in your life? Quit your complaining and do something about it. I’m not talking about people who vent about bad days. I’m talking about the constantly pessimistic people who complain about the same things day in and day out, and when you ask them what they’ve done to fix whatever they are complaining about, they make more excuses as to why they really haven’t done anything. “I haven’t had time. I’m too tired. I don’t have the right equipment. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” You’re right, you lack the correct attitude. These are the people who seem to not actually want to be happy. Instead, they seem to enjoy bringing everyone down to their level. They are the ones that are in the “Do you want to be happy?” circle of the chart, followed by the answer “No” followed by the answer “Keep doing whatever you’re doing.” So, not only do you have to watch out for these people, you have to make sure that you continuously check this flow-chart to make sure you’re not becoming one of them.

Last year, I wasn’t happy about my health. I was tired, unfit, and starting to get in the “overweight” section on the BMI charts. I was a grumpy, frumpy mess who couldn’t even play hide-n-seek with her daughter without getting winded until I finally decided that I needed to use my form of psychology on myself. It was time to stop feeling down on myself. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine, and I couldn’t rely on anyone to fix my problems if I wasn’t willing to do anything to help myself. I put my three biggest issues on paper – my weight, my constant fatigue, and not feeling like I could run around with my kid as much as I wanted because I was so physically out of shape. Once I had the specific issues on paper, it was a lot easier to come up with solutions to smaller problems rather than a solution to “I don’t like who I am right now” or simply “I’m unhappy.”

Once I had my big problem broken down, it was time to think of ways to improve or solve the smaller issues. As far as my weight, it was time to get moving. It was time to start eating right. I tried to exercise at home, but my schedule fluctuated too much for that to work. I could not consistently wake up early due to the fatigue and sleepiness. Knowing it wasn’t working, I knew I had to start at the flow chart again. I had to make another change. I started working out during my lunch breaks at work. It was a consistent time that I had available. There was equipment to use. Sometimes there was even a buddy to chat with to help pass the time back when I needed distraction to stay motivated. Slowly, as the weeks went by, I moved from the elliptical to the treadmill. I moved from walking to jogging to running.

During my workouts, I started to notice just how much the foods I ate made a difference in my performance. That donut I had for breakfast? Yeah, that resulted in being shaky mid-run and totally bonking. Waiting too long to eat? Binge-fest and oh dang, a charlie horse while jogging. I started swapping out simple carbohydrates for more complex carbohydrates, making sure to also include some protein, especially in the mornings. By fueling my body correctly, I started to run longer distances at quicker paces with fewer crashes. The pounds started melting off, one drop of sweat at a time. It was a damn slow process, but I lost ten pounds the RIGHT way and have not gained it back. Now, I’m down another five. Fifteen pounds in a year for someone my height (barely 5′) is pretty darn good, particularly when I had other things going on that I didn’t even know were working against me until last September.

No matter how good I felt about being able to run the longest I’d ever gone and the way my clothes were fitting, I still wasn’t happy. My performance at work was slipping. My school work was getting harder and harder to keep up with. I knew that I should have more energy than I did because I was getting eight hours of sleep and sporadically falling asleep on the couch on evenings and weekends. No one should sleep as much as I was and still feel tired. I’d gotten on my husband’s case about getting his snoring looked at, and when I kept complaining about not sleeping well even after his sleep apnea was under control, he got on my case. Turns out, I had narcolepsy with cataplexy. A lot of things I thought were my special little quirks were symptoms of a serious disorder I’d had for years and years without even knowing. (I still laugh when I think about how I actually believed that all people get weak in the knees when they laugh or get angry.)

Starting treatment for narcolepsy has its ups and downs, as I’ve blogged about before. The medications haven’t been very nice to me so far. It has been a long nine months, yet I do find that I’m spending more quality time with my family instead of simply lounging around on the couch. I’m cooking more than I ever have before. The house is looking less messy these days. I feel more present instead of in a foggy daze.

I’m still a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?) I’m still tweaking my medications to find something to help me sleep more restfully at night. I’m still learning about how eating certain foods makes my sleepiness worse. I’m still working on getting back into a running and exercise routine since my hiatus earlier this year. I’m not quite at a point where I can answer “Are you happy?” with a “Yes” but I’m getting closer. The secret to happiness is realizing that it takes constant work and being willing to actually do the work. The secret to happiness is also taking constant inventory of what isn’t working and making changes, even if those changes may seem scary at first. But most of all, the secret to happiness is truly wanting to be happy.

(Oh, and yes, I was doing a lot of yelling at Amber when I was watching Teen Mom last week. SHE needs to see this chart – fo’ sho’!)

ARE you happy? If not, what are you going to change TODAY that will bring you a step closer? How do you respond to the perpetually negative people?

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