Happiness Beyond Comparison

The point of the Heart Focus Power approach is that we celebrate our efforts and move on. There is no time to live in the past. A healthy lifestyle, when everything else is stripped away, is all about you being happy.

Look at the phrase, “Be happy now.” With only three words, it doesn’t seem like it could be complicated, but it is far less simple than we’d like. The fact is, to make “Be Happy Now” a little more realistic, we must add some more words. It’s neither realistic nor healthy to expect to live in a constant state of happiness. There are seasons in our lives where we may find it easier to enjoy ourselves than at other times. However, there are always opportunities to apply the right effort. If you celebrate your efforts instead of only looking at the end results, you’ll find that you can get out of your own way. So, in front of “Be Happy Now,” let’s add, “Allow Yourself To.” Put that together and you arrive at a reasonable challenge: Allow Yourself to Be Happy Now. That’s better, but I think there’s still some space to fill, if we’re going to buy in to Happiness on this scale. Let’s explore some obstacles first.

What happens when we compare ourselves to others, the world around us, our ideals, and our goals? Most advice out there says to avoid making comparisons. We’re told that it’s best to focus on the road ahead and not to worry about what’s happening in the other lane. There’s some wisdom to that notion. But aren’t there times that it’s advisable to make a few comparisons? Don’t we need to take measure against some sort of constant? Should you compare yourself to everyone you knew at school? Is it wise to see how you stack up against your coworkers? Probably not. They may be in a different season of their lives and you may not have enough data to make an accurate comparison. Is it safe to compare yourself to celebrities with whom you feel a connection? Definitely not. Celebrities – especially the beautiful ones, have one job: to be beautiful. J-Lo is worth $300 million and she has one job. That job is be beautiful. She is a full-time Beautiful Person. On top of that, unless you know her personally, when you’re seeing J-Lo, you’re seeing the product of a professional fitness and dance instructor, make-up and hair artists, a nutritionist, personal chef, and … well you see where I’m going. The Comparison Game is dangerous with non-celebrities, too. Know anybody in your Instagram feed that looks good all the time? Remember, Instagram is a highlight reel. Social Media allows us to get the best picture of the best us at the best moment and then use filters to enhance the product. So, while it’s natural to say, “I’d like to look like that,” it’s not always healthy.

You can, however, compare yourself with yourself. There are still some limits – leave your yearbook on the shelf – but a You to You comparison isn’t a terrible idea. Make sure you Focus on what you can control and set realistic criteria. A great way to start is by taking measure of your efforts. How much effort did you make today to be healthy? How much effort did you make yesterday and how much can you make tomorrow? That’s a great comparison because the answers are all positive. The next best comparison to take is of how you feel. I’ve already told you to throw your scale away, so for just a minute, step away from the mirror. How do you feel today? How did you feel after your last meal or your last workout? How do you want to feel by your next birthday? How about some comparisons in your social life? How’s your confidence? Do you feel present in the world around you? How’s your love life compare to what it was a year ago? How do your clothes fit? When you step back in front of the mirror, are you smiling? I hope so! The mirror can be a hard place to find a smile, not because it doesn’t hide anything, but because sometimes it highlights whatever it is we’re looking for right at that moment.

Keeping the focus on you, make a list of all the roles you take on day after day. You may be a parent, spouse, professional, friend, hobbyist, sibling, or a hundred other people. The question is, are you good at being those people? Are you a partner or a great partner? Are you the team member at work that does just enough or are you putting in a little something extra? What does the best version of those people look like? Rather, who is the best version of You? Trying to be a top contributor to every field you’re in sounds exhausting. You know what’s a little more reasonable? Being happy with your efforts in every field.

What if we narrow the focus to fitness? What efforts are worth comparing? Is there anything to be gained by measuring movement? Tracking meals? Comparing how prepared we are with how prepared we need to be? Absolutely. Otherwise, you’re just leaving your well-being to chance.
So, let’s compare some Efforts and some Results at the same time. Are you happier with yourself than you were a year ago and how have your efforts changed since then? How much were you moving a year ago compared to how much you’re moving now? If you look at pictures from the last Holiday Party, what do you say to yourself? If you’ve changed, is it for the better or are you more aware of the opportunity to make new efforts? In order to be reasonable, we have to ask these questions in light of who you are right now as opposed to who you were in the past. Are there new additions to your family? Have you changed your work schedule dramatically? Beyond your efforts and your choices, how has the landscape changed? In other words, is it reasonable to compare yourself with you from a year ago?

With all these questions in the mix, you can see why “Allow Yourself to Be Happy Now” still isn’t quite right. A more complete mantra, an attainable goal, is going to read “Allow Yourself to Be as Happy Now as You Can Be.” You see, your life, your decisions, your efforts are always in flux. As such, your happiness is going to shift accordingly. I contend that by following the Heart Focus Power model, you’re going to help happiness stabilize and remain joyful through the changes you can’t control. Remember to stick to the Process. The Process is designed to reinforce your best behaviors and celebrate your efforts. And when do we feel the most like celebrating? When we’re happy. Be Healthy, Be Happy, Be You.

Let us know positive comparisons that you’ve discovered.  How did you celebrate?  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@ptfitness), and Instagram (@ptfitnessdfw). Share #happycomparisons so we can encourage and celebrate with you. See you soon!