Defining Happiness

“I have decided to be happy, because it's good for my health.” – Voltaire

For the past five weeks I've been running a challenge at CrossFit Delaware Valley called the Body Composition Challenge (BCC). It's a different take on a traditional Paleo challenge in that there are two criteria for scoring: Before and After photos and a short written self-assessment at the end of the challenge.

Over the past five weeks I've given a weekly talk to the BCC participants, covering various topics of health and wellness and how they relate to body composition. Last night was the final meeting and the topic was on happiness. I drew the flowchart pictured above on the board and went through the exercise with the group. I told them to take a moment and evaluate different areas of their life: family, personal relationships, work, and your life as a whole, as it relates to the flowchart. 

It's a pretty simple but effective sequence; if you're truly happy, keep doing whatever you're doing. If you're not happy, change something.

I recently had lunch with Stephanie Vincent who told me about her weight loss experiences. During our lunch she said something that really stuck with me. She said that you have to at least like yourself. If you don’t like yourself, how do you expect to take care of yourself? Nobody wants to take care of someone they don’t like. 

The crux of my talk last night was that over these past five weeks one of the indirect goals was not so much losing weight or inches, but in gaining happiness with yourself. I tried to define what happiness might look like in broad strokes, but defining happiness is going to be different for everyone. 

I presented the following list in no particular order:
  • Living a long, healthy, active life
  • Giving and receiving love from a companion
  • Doing work that is fulfilling and that makes a difference 
  • Financial freedom and independence
  • Surrounding yourself with people who support you/Avoiding toxic people
  • Expanding your scope of the world through travel, learning, food, and culture
  • Spending the majority of your time doing the things you enjoy
I think the last one may be the most important of them all. However you decide to spend the majority of your day it should be spent doing the things that you enjoy, that are important to you, and that matter to you. On their death bed, no one ever said that they wished they spent more time in the office. If what matters to you most is doing something that gives you a sense of fulfillment be it raising a family, building a community, or exploring the world, then own up to it and embrace it.

Your time is just as important and valuable as anyone else's. If you're spending the majority of your time doing things you can't stand, change something.

The quote that started this post sounds a bit metaphysical but it's dead on. You choose to be happy, just as much as you choose to be sad, angry, depressed, or frustrated. If you're not happy with your situation, change something.

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