What is happiness?

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share the ups, downs and lessons learned from living a post weight loss fit life.

Throughout my journey I have learned that living a life of fitness is full of metaphors for other areas of life. That’s what this week’s post is about.

The struggle with numbers..

Last week I talked about how my weight has crept up a bit but I wasn’t going to let a couple of pounds (that may be out of my control) take away my happiness – read Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This week I continued trying to diagnose the underlying cause with the help of my trainer and I was still a little frustrated by the numbers.

Throughout my journey I have written extensively about my numbers. I have written about good weeks and bad weeks being defined by whether the numbers are going my way.

This all got me thinking…. Why do I seem to live and die by my numbers? Why is it so hard to just be happy and not let the numbers have power over me? Why do the numbers mean so much? Is there something bigger at play here?

It’s not just a number, it is success…

I have started to realize that it is not just my fitness numbers, it is something a little deeper. I think my numbers struggle is tied to how I (and most of us) are motivated through our lives.

In school grades are a measurement of performance. You have to work hard to get good grades. Not that I really got good grades.

Then you go into the world of work and try to get the increasing job titles from specialist to lead to manager to senior manager to director to senior director and on and on. If there is a next you aren’t happy until you reach it.

With the job titles come the money. You continue measuring your income as a sign of achievement that makes you happy.

As your income goes up so does your net worth, unless you are taking on massive amounts of debt. As this number goes up you can afford things like the ever bigger and nicer houses and cars.

Plus I could go on and on about sports, video games, politics, social standing, well-kept lawns and many other examples of places that we measure success and progress.

We are taught from a very young age to measure our success through tangible achievments. And we have constructed many yardsticks to use to do this. Health and fitness numbers are just another one of these yardsticks. When the numbers are progressing we are winning, when they slip backwards or stagnate we are losing.

But that’s not happiness…

All too often we equate these measurements of achievement, these extrensic motivators, with happiness. Once you get to a specific job title, income level or goal weight you will be happy. No matter how much pain, sweat and hell you have to go through to get there. The journey is just the means to the end and it doesn’t matter if you enjoy it or not.

But this doesn’t work!

There are countless stories of people experiencing a mid-life crisis becase they have been so busy collecting achievements that they weren’t living their lives. They were terribly unhappy despite having all of the best tangible representations of success.

Happiness is not a number, it is not a tangible achievement and it is certainly not a goal weight.

So what do we do?

I have discussed many times that weight loss isn’t tied to any single secret, it is about a series of habits that help you maintain a blanace of diet, exercise, sleep, hydration and many other factors. We can apply this same metaphor to our happiness.

Setting goals, tracking progress, measuring and collecting achievements is important. I live my life this way every day and don’t ever see that stopping. But that alone is not happieness, though it contributes, and needs to be balanced with other things.

I know that I need to balance this tracking and achieving with other things important to me. I want to enjoy the company of those who I love. I want to help people. I want to laugh. I want to enjoy the journey and not just look at the activities as a necessary means to some end goal.

But that is just a starting point. I am going to need to spend some time over the coming weeks thinking about what all of those other components of my happiness are. I encourage you to do the same.

By continuing to focus on all of the aspects of our happiness we can consider the numbers in the broader context. This will stop any one or two numbers from having too much power over our happiness.

And I am sure that it is going to be just that easy… right?

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About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achiving success with that goal it has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

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