People cope with depression in different ways — with psychotropic drugs, alcohol, shopping or food.
I know how hard depression can be. I have been there. Therefore, I can empathize with people who have been or are in depression. It took me three years before I could regain my confidence.
Depression is a state of mind. It happens to everyone, especially when we suffer a loss, such as the death of a close loved one, a divorce, the foreclosure of a house in which we’ve invested part of our life or the loss of a body part such as our legs, eyes, arms, etc. It is common sense that we are going to get depressed when losing something that used to be part of our life and added value in some way.
I have a client who was overweight by about 25 pounds. After the death of her mother, she gained 45 more pounds. She weighed 185 pounds and was 5 feet tall. She was sedentary and overeating because she did not care about life. I called this autodestructive habit. She was living a depressing life for two years until she understood that her mother wanted her to be happy and let her rest.
My client changed her psychological outlook and started to walk, hike and eat healthily. She lost 15 pounds on her own. Then she got stuck, and even though she tried, she could not continue losing weight. She thought it was impossible to lose more weight, until she came to see me.
This is when I met her. She told me her story and how she had lost the 15 pounds. She thought she was eating healthily. I bet she was eating healthier than before, but she needed some improvements in her eating habits. The walking and hiking was not enough for her anymore. So she signed up with our weight-loss program. My client now has lost an additional 20 pounds and weighs 150 pounds. She is losing an average of 5 pounds per month. She has being with us for 4 months now.
After my client figured out her problem, she took imperfect action, and when she got stuck she asked for a professional. She decided to continue her journey and not give up and regain the weight she lost. My client is very happy with her results and is motivated to continue losing the extra pounds.
Maybe you can relate to her story and you need some motivation or a model to follow that shows you that the extra weight you have can be shed. She told me that it’s never too late to try something new.
“If it’s revenge that you seek, you’d better dig two graves.” This is a Chinese proverb that makes a lot of sense in two ways, in my opinion:
In the first place, I come from a very poor area of Mexico. Dangerous gangs fight each other for territory and respect. When I was younger I used to hang out with a very mean guy named Beto. One day I saw him beating up a guy and stepping on his head because he was messing with his girlfriend. We all knew in the neighborhood that Beto was one of the most dangerous guys on our streets. He not only beat up guys, he would get angry enough to kill.
I am about to publish my book that talks about some dangerous situations I got into from hanging out with people like Beto. As for Beto himself, he lost many of his family members because he got into gang wars. He almost got killed many times, and I have no idea if he is still alive. The last time I heard from him, he was in jail.
The truth is that many people are full of anger and can’t forgive a slight. This is how the chain of revenge starts. For example, Beto lost family members because he was always seeking revenge, and one day it might be his turn to go.
The second example of how the proverb makes sense to me deals with a friend whose boyfriend left her for another woman. When I spoke to her, it was very obvious she was hurting from the decisions her ex made. She wanted the guy to feel the same pain she was feeling and make him feel destroyed and humiliated like she did. She had a lot of anger. She struggled to understand that her anger would do nothing to make this guy feel like she feels, and if she had the opportunity to make this guy feel like her, she would be spending a lot of her energy on revenge that would worsen the circumstances not only for him but for her when she could be focusing on her happiness. If she remains angry for life or until she achieves her revenge, she might die bitter and without happiness. In other words, she might be dying alive.
I made many mistakes and hurt many people, and because I am a human being and I understand how everyone else feels, I always ask for forgiveness from the person and compensate for the mistake. We are only human beings, and we are going to continue making mistakes. That does not mean that we should just make decisions without thinking and not take the consequences into consideration. It means a mistake is something that we took for granted because we unconsciously failed to consider the consequences. In other cases, we just become blind to reality.
Beto and I were not good friends. I just knew him from the street, but we never really got close. One day, he got very mad at me and beat me up; a couple of face punches and I was on the floor. Luckily that was enough for him to release his anger and leave me alone. I think I never sought revenge because I knew what could have happened.
I got unjustly arrested by a Glenwood police officer who treated me like a delinquent. I got angry at the time and was thinking about using all my resources to sue him, but I would have spent all my energy on something that does not really matter. I lost 10 hours of my life and a couple of hundred dollars and a gained a headache to reinstate my driver’s license. My only hope is that he is happy thinking he brought a very dangerous person to justice.
I have been left for another guy; I spent a lot of money on two surgeries that were not the right ones and had to be redone, costing more money; I have had money stolen violently … you get the point. However, I don’t live with anger or feelings of revenge. Of course, this is nothing compared to what has happened to other people. I have heard the worst stories. Nevertheless I have reasons to be angry and bitter, but I choose to be happy and forgive and understand everyone who has done wrong to me because I have done wrong as well.
Can you imagine if I would have gotten mean and fought Beto later on? Or if I would have gotten into a conflict with the police officer? Or lived my life with anger? I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I could be dead, exhausted, or not moving forward with the goals that really count. Or I could be dying alive.
I also keep in mind that the best revenge I can have is my own success, to show those who treated me unfairly that I am better than they think and that their aggression won’t stop me.
When we have anger and hunger for revenge in a negative way, we end up in wars, or become bitter from the anger, which in turn makes us self-destructive by overeating, doing drugs, drinking and so on.
So when the smart Chinese person wrote the proverb, “If it’s revenge that you seek, you’d better dig two graves,” I think he was giving us advice about how to live a better life.
While back when I started exercising, many people would asked me if I was a personal trainer which back then I was only a guy with a dream to improve his appearance. My only goal was to get in shape. On the other hand, I had other “friends” who wanted to discourage me to stop exercising. They would say something like, “When you get older and turned 30 years of age, your body will start getting loser and you will start getting fat.”
Many people start gaining weight after their puberty stage. And the reason it could be because of the habits they have developed. I started lifting weights since I was 19 years of age. I never stopped since then, so I don’t really know what is to be out of shape and I’m very happy with the results weight lifting have brought to my life.
Maybe my friends who thought I would be a fat person passing my 30s believed that I would give up my habits and focus my life in drinking and seating in the couch watching TV like they do.
I don’t think is nothing wrong with their lifestyle if it’s what they want. However, many people want to improve their self esteem, health, appearance and over all their quality of life. And I don’t think practicing negative habits will help them do that.
Here is my little secret I’m reveling to you. Honestly, it is not a secret. If you take some time to think about it, you will notice that it just make sense:
Every single thing you do in your life has consequences. So if your goal is to be healthy, lose weight, be in shape, improve your appearance, run your first marathon or wherever it is, you should start working on it every day. You either work towards or against it.
After hurting my back, completely dislocating my knee, lost a loved one, being in debt, be punished by USA migration and sent back home for months, I continued practicing my good habits and guess what? The prophecy my friends proclaimed did not become true. I’m over 30 years of age (I know I look like I’m 26, but it is just my habits that keep me young) and I continue lifting weights and eating healthy with no pains, healthy, disease free and very happy.
I keep in mind one of the laws I read in my personal development- We create our destiny, nobody else has control of it.
So just practice your good habits every day and they will pay off in the future. Great investment!
It’s interesting that even though many of us know what to eat and all about the benefits of exercise—that it slows downs aging, prevents diseases, strengthen our bones, improves our appearance, and facilitates weight loss– it’s difficult for us to practice those healthy habits.
Lately I have being paying more attention to how the cells function. Cells are the building blocks of life—teeming with many organelles with unique functions, a microcosm of the unique organs inside the larger human body.
One specific organelle in cells, the mitochondria are often called our power plant and are responsible for the production of energy in cells.
The human body functions due to thousands of different cells, all doing their jobs: creating tissues that in turn make up organs, organs make organ systems that enable our whole organism to work. But fundamentally, it all comes down to cell and their health. Cells need energy to function and they get the energy from the mitochondria. Biologists and physiologists explain that the more cells we have the more the mitochondria we have, and the more the mitochondria there is, the more energy is needed. This leads to an increase of metabolism. When we develop more muscle in our bodies, we are actually creating more muscle cells, which need more energy, thus increasing our resting or basal metabolic rate. To say it in a different way, the more muscles the human body has, the more calories it will burn. For every three pounds of muscle we add to the body, we burn around 120 calories more.
Another reason to exercise is that weight lifting helps prevent osteoporosis. When we lift weights, the bone goes into a process that is called remodeling; it adapts to the stress to which it is put. The skeleton replaces itself bit by bit every day like this, and takes seven years to replace all the old bones. So if there is no stress in the human body, the bones remodels itself weaker, and the skeleton weakens accordingly. On the other hand, if the bones are stressed regularly, they develop a stronger skeleton.
A study several decades ago in Brookline, Mass. showed that even the elderly can gain bone strength after a few months of moderate weight training. The study had people over 80 and even over 90 engage in weight training a few times a week, and to the researchers’ surprise, the seniors’ bones got stronger. Great information, right? But what good this information do if we don’t practice it?
Action is what really matters. And action requires will. Albert Einstein once said, “There is a driving force more powerful than steam, electricity and atomic energy: the will.”
Many people need to boost their grit and their will. If they did, they would use the information they have to achieve their goals.
There are two types of energy: potential and kinetic. Potential energy is like water in a dam. The energy is there, but it’s not moving. Kinetic energy is like a river; it’s moving. Our brain works the same way; we can either keep the information static in our head or put it into action.
Exercising and healthy eating are two good habits that will add value to your life. Such changes will result in losing weight, increasing your energy levels, and avoiding some diseases, such as osteoporosis.
Many people neglect their responsibilities, including looking after their health, until the proverbial “tomorrow.” Unfortunately, “tomorrow” often becomes “never.”
My dream is to help everyone reach their potential and be genuinely happy. Our body is a machine that requires maintenance. Exercising and eating healthy will not only help you look good or lose weight. They are needed for a happier life. Put this into practice and you will see how much value you can add to your life. Make sure you do it now, however, since “tomorrow” may never come.
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
–Augustine of Hippo
When I was a kid, around 10 years of age, I remember going to the local market in Mexico with a friend to work. We used to bring clean buckets of water to the local sellers from the cistern. They paid us well for each bucket, and it was enough for us to play arcades. It was a routine. One day as we were dealing with a local owner, my friend noticed many bills on the ground. After my friend pointed them out, I picked every single one. It was more money than someone could make in a month.
I did not turn to look around as I walked out of the market. My friend followed me, and so did another guy. I have no idea how the guy who followed us ended up in front of us, but blocking our path he demanded I give him the money I picked up. I played dumb and told him I did not know what money he was talking about. He told me that if I didn’t give him the bill, he would tell the owner I have it. Since I knew I had a lot of money, I asked him how much he was talking about. He was asking for only one bill. I carefully pulled one bill and gave it to him knowing that I had plenty more. The guy walked away.
With the threat gone, we walked away as well, and I gave my friend his part of the money. When I picked up the money, I honestly knew who the money belonged to. It was a guy who used to sell chickens in the market. He was sitting in a food stall with his wallet half way out of his pants. I did not care about him; all I cared about was what the money could bring me. So I took it.
This is not the only dishonest act I ever committed. I committed many more. I am about to publish my book in which I talk about my life and all my mistakes. It took me many years until I turned 28 years old to understand that I was very selfish. It was not the age and the experiences that made me change. While these factors do contribute, what really made me change was pain — the feeling of being human and standing in someone else’s shoes.
All the money I stole in the local market (because I did not find that money, I stole it) I spent on useless things, and it disappeared in just a couple of days without bringing me any fulfillment. This money could have been the person’s next mortgage that he worked so hard for, his next inventory, his grocery money for the whole month or payment for the next needed surgery. The only thing I know now is that the money did not belong to me. Many times I rationalize that everyone was dishonest; therefore, I could be as well. The fact is that I always knew what was right and wrong and what was convenient for me or everyone.
Once I changed, I decided to ask for forgiveness from all the people I hurt that I could reach: return items that did not belong to me, pay money I owed, ask for forgiveness and start over by helping others.
From the bottom of my heart I know to do the right thing even when it is difficult and seems to affect my life negatively in the short run. Of course, by no means am I perfect, and I still make mistakes. However, asking for forgiveness and compensating is the best follow-up.
When we were remodeling our new location in Glenwood Springs, we spent most of our savings, leaving us living almost paycheck to paycheck. I was in need of income, and the place needed more investment. We went to Lowes to buy another $500 of products. When we came back and checked our bill, we noticed that we got charged only $66. Even though the business needed money, I was willing to do the right thing, so we went back with pictures of all the products that were not scanned, and we paid it all back.
When I was in college, I took many psychology classes, and there are contradictions among theories. Therefore I learned that not everything that people write is legitimate. As I continue my journey in my education, I remain a student. I never accept an idea without questioning it. I meditate the information, and it has to make complete sense to me to make it part of my teaching. Otherwise, I toss it.
For example, I found out that supplements comprise a million-dollar industry, and we as personal trainers have the opportunity to push these products to our clients, adding a couple thousand dollars a month to our income. I used to take many supplements, but through research I found out that they provide no benefit and can even put our health at risk, so I stopped taking them. Therefore, I don’t sell or promote any supplement.
Jim Rohn recommends to read a book on Gandhi and a book on Hitler. As a matter of fact I am reading a very interesting book that recommends lying, manipulating and taking advantage of people to get power over them. I focus my learning on human development, environment and psychology. But I decided to read this book for a specific reason: I like to study how people think and find out what to expect from someone who has no desire to improve this world and who thinks only about himself. I have no right to judge anyone. I used to be selfish, but it is good to understand.
I believe when we do the right thing and we speak the truth, we are peaceful and have less stress. We don’t have to worry about other people catching us doing wrong or having a guilty conscience about how our negative decision affected another person.
It is a sacrifice, but I think it’s worth it when we think about others. How would I feel if I was the one working at Lowes and I made that big mistake? I would probably lose my job when I have a family to sustain. What about the chicken seller I took the money from? How about if I were him?
When I started my transformation, I read many times the importance of honesty. Not only is it a natural law that we can’t be dishonest, but our self-confidence increases and our life improves. There is a thing that many people call karma in which the world works on turning things around, making us pay what we owe to life.
Once again, I am by no means perfect — I am still a human being — but fighting my desires and continuing to do what is right helps me be happy and ultimately make a change in this world, which is my goal.
Before I started exercising, I weighed 130 – 135 pounds. I loved my body back then. I did not compare my body with someone else. I didn’t even know there was a difference between my body and others. It could be because the society where I grew up did not put attention in insignificant details.
One day I was working with a body builder. I noticed his body was different than mine. We worked together doing an extremely physical job. I remember asking him how he got his body. I asked if he did it by doing the physical work of our job. He answered, “No, I wished. I exercise.”
I remember being in harmony with my body. I didn’t dislike my body. I never thought about my long neck, skinny legs, skinny arms, small belly and flat chest. I only set up a goal and I worked towards it. Setting my goals was important, but it was not enough. It was my actions: what I was doing to increase my muscle mass. I started going to the gym every day. I stopped drinking. I was tired from work, but I still went to the gym and gave my best. I started eating in a different way than I was eating before.
Finally, I started to see results after three months. I was not, however, where I wanted to be. So I continued. Three years after, I reached my first plateau. Still, I saw other guys more muscular than me. They were in the gym, magazines, movies, music videos… I wanted to be like them. I tried harder but my body was not built to be bigger. Sometimes, “friends” would come and tell me if I stopped lifting weights because I was smaller. They knew that phrase would bother me.
After taking my time meditating and studying my past, I understood that I was happy with my body, no matter what others said. And one of the reasons why I didn’t care was because the environment never put ideas about a perfect body in me. I started caring when others contributed to my thoughts.
I kept studying my journey. I noticed that I replaced many bad habits by good habits. As an example, I replaced drinking by exercising. My body shape changed; I’m stronger; I have more energy, my clothing fits me better and I hardly get sick. My happiness was not the “new body,” but the good habits I acquired. So I continue practicing all the new habits.
Later in the future, I understood that many guys in magazines take drugs and other guys have a different type of body than I do. Drugs or supplements? No, I care much about my health to take a risk. There are three types of bodies for men and women. The three types are endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. I’m classified as an ectomorph. The mesomorph tends to be more muscular than my body build. It is impossible for me to be as muscular as the weight lifter mesomorph. This did not mean that I can work around my body type and make it healthy and attractive.
I noticed that it doesn’t matter what type of frame some people have, they usually are not happy with it. They want to have someone else’s frame. People skinny girsl want bigger hips and many girls who have bigger hips want no hips.
I started to accept my body again. And the perception of the “perfect body” went away. I achieved a perfect body. It was healthy, stronger, more energetic, had good posture and more muscle development.
The reality is that we can have an attractive body, be physical and mentally healthy not taking into account the type of frame we have.
To clarify, accept yourself, love your body the way it is, care for it, exercise it, nourish it healthy food. Don’t get persuaded by others. See your clear, realistic goal and start working toward it. What’s most important, what are you going to do every day to get there? Stop drinking? Eat organic? Get rid of junk food? Exercise? Make your new lifestyle a habit.
Find your body type, work it and, please, for the love of God, don’t compare yourself with someone else. You are unique the way you are. You are beautiful! You may improve your physical appearance by losing weight, toning your body, increasing your posture, but only compare yourself with your old you… That is when you start seeing results. Everything begins with the mind and becomes physical when you work for it!
In life we find people who succeed in their goals and others who will only try, but fail. To be more specific, less than 8% of people will succeed in their weight loss goals. There are people who have all the possibilities to succeed in their weight loss goals than others and fail. Then there are others who have less possibility to achieve their goals and succeed. What differs between these two types of people? The consequences obviously are not a factor. Sidike Conde is a great example, with no legs he could achieve more than people with legs. The way people perceive life is the biggest reason why people succeed or fail. I was talking to my landlord the other day and she was telling me how some tenants are full of excuses. Even though they have all the possibilities to leave everything under good circumstances, they prefer to leave everything to the last minute and come up with all types of excuses. Interesting enough we are all full of excuses. We blame anyone and/or everything, but we don’t take responsibility of our own life decisions.
Here let me illustrate, two different people same event: one is doing her best to lift weights and get out of her comfort zone. Every time she is squatting she thinks, “The burn and the pain will help me get my legs and butt toned and lose fat. I can do this: no problem. I have done it before. I like this feeling of accomplishment.” When she is running, she tells herself, “Running is only for the strong and I’m strong. I can run 20 miles. My body was made to run”. When she chooses to eat the right foods, inner thoughts are, “My life is healthier with these foods. Healthy foods are the best energy I can consume for my body.” While the second person, when she is squatting says, “Oh no, this is very difficult. My legs are killing me. I can’t do this. I will never get what I want. I should stop now.” She comments to herself while running, “It seems too long. My body can’t handle the running. I better walk because running does not feel comfortable.” When she chooses what to eat she says, “I will only eat processed foods once. Why should I cook when there is food that is already made? Processed foods are the easiest thing to eat and I don’t care about my health anyway, because I will still someday die.”
Can you feel the joy of one of them and the pain of the other? If you picture these two people, I would hope that you would want to be the first example. I could be wrong. Maybe you would want to be example number two and continue making excuses? I know you are smarter than that ;). Anyway, did you notice that both these people in the same event were affected differently by how they perceived the same event? The reality is that you create your reality. You are the one who decides if it is painful or enjoyable. How do you perceive events?
Do you remember back in school when you needed to seat with a specific group and discuss one of the assignments? We do the same out of school in boards of directors. I’m on the board of directors of a couple of health organizations in the valley. Here people gather and bring ideas to share and problems to resolve. One of the issues that we were discussing last time was how to make people aware of their health.
Anything that has to do with health requires some level of effort or discomfort for many, at least at the beginning. Cooking requires knowledge, time and patience. Eating healthily entails scheduling, choosing and paying extra cash for the right foods, preparing those foods, and eating the right amount. To exercise people need to get out of their comfort zone, make their heart rate increase and their muscles burn and learn to schedule their time. However, if people fail to practice any of these habits, there will likely be negative effects.
Nobody consciously wants to be weak, sick, suffering or overweight or in pain. Yet it’s difficult to make many people aware of how to prevent these problems. If people don’t want to suffer, why is it so difficult to get people to think about their health? While many organizations offer free cooking classes, free exercise programs, gardening classes, disease prevention seminars and many other government-funded community events, why is it so difficult to get the community involved? Publicity is not the problem: Look around and you will find many organizations working to help you adopt a better life. So what makes it so difficult? This is what we were discussing at our last board meeting.
The brain focuses on what it thinks is important. When you bought a new car, you probably saw many people driving the same model everywhere. Why didn’t you notice before? Because it was not important until you focused on the one you wanted. The reality is that people had been driving that type of car before, but you didn’t notice because it wasn’t important.
People are focused on and value many things before their health. Many people don’t understand that their health is more valuable than what they are searching for. Many people think that their health is predetermined. They may think that they have no control over it and that their health problems just happen, so they don’t put the time, effort and money they need into preventing health issues.
When people start seeing the value in their health is when they invest time, effort and money into it, not caring about the difficulty, time required or how hard it can be to do so. But once again, what can we do to make our community members aware of their health? If you are reading this article, it means that you care about your health and you are aware of your health. If you think about yourself, something motivates you to stay healthy. It could be your appearance, your spouse, your family, the pains that you don’t have anymore because of your good habits, or simply that you noticed you’re happier when you practice good habits.
In other words, we need to find what people value and what motivates them. Therefore, I remind you that you should stay focused on your motivation when you practice all those good habits. Your values or motivation are the reason why you are willing to do what many people avoid doing.
There is something else: You are an example for others to follow, and that is more powerful than any information that we can provide to others. So stay positive and be proud of yourself, because you are unique, and you are helping us changing the community.
We, fitness professionals, are focus in many physical events that we can do to lose weight and give healthy examples include running, weight lifting, taking time for breakfast, eating mainly fruits and vegetables, lowering meat intake, choosing whole grains, avoiding dairy, cutting out processed foods and GMOs, and severely no added sugar drinks and alcohol.
While many people know about these recommendations, we health professionals can help out with other deeper aspects of overall well-being- the mental aspect. Here are some psychological tips to help you achieve your fitness and health goals:
Believe: Set up your mind to understand that weight loss is in your control and is very possible.
Find a purpose: Finding the reason why you want to lose weight will help you stick to your program. You will do better, for example, if you are getting married and you want to fit perfectly into the beautiful dress.
Have desire: Think about the discomfort your body is giving you because of the extra weight you have. Then compare what the benefits of a thinner body would be to your new lifestyle. This will bring about a stronger desire for weight loss and general fitness.
Be persistent: Persistence is the key to any success in life. Think about it. Only people who are persistent achieve their goals. The rest only try. Weight loss is not an overnight event. In fact, it’s more difficult for some people than for others and requires more time. Yet these people are those who are more successful. The reason could be because they know how hard they have to work and they persist, while many of the rest don’t. Follow the right steps and be persistent.
Seek Information: Keep learning constantly. Find reliable information. Try to avoid the many myths and false solutions out there… Just because you might not achieve your goals at first, don’t create defeatist myths about yourself. Keep at it. Seek out facts and helpful strategies about your health. Whatever the situation is, use your brain and common sense. Avoid weight-loss scams. Some people only are looking for your money and will try everything to sell you a product that promises everything but doesn’t work. Assess any information you get and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. As Albert Einstein said, “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”
Plan: Brainstorm and design a Plan A and a Plan B. Follow the first plan but adjust it as needed. Plan B is only if plan be can’t be perform. Plan your day, week, month, and year. People don’t achieve their goals by accident—they have at least one plan. A mindless, chaotic lifestyle is not contusive to achieving weight loss or even basic fitness.
Be a hero: As you go along your weight loss journey and get results, share your experience with others who need them and are themselves ready to change. This will keep you accountable and help you lose weight permanently. You will also feel good by helping others. Plus, as you know, good things happen to good people.
Be decisive: Act,–do it now! Let me repeat, take action about your life! Your body and habits will never change if you don’t start to make changes. No magic thing will happen unless you act. Don’t end up just wishing and hoping and next December find yourself the same or with even more weight.
Invest in your health: Nothing is more valuable than your health. Be choosy about buying material things. Instead, spend money on anything that will enhance your health, such as fresh food, informative books, and helpful services. You only have one body and you probably want to take care of it. You can’t go to a body dealer or a doctor and get a new one. Losing weight and keeping fit about love your body and take care of it. Material things come and go and you can replace them, unlike your health and body.
Throw this article up as a screen saver for the month of January. Read it every day, become familiar with its contents, and be ready to change your life!
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What is the reason that you wake up every day? This is how I start a speech that I’m presenting in different businesses. I get many answers, such as: “Because I need to work,” “I have responsibilities,” and “I have to take care of my family.” I think all the answers make sense because we all have something to do in life. However, this isn’t usually why people wake up. Therefore, I ask the second question: Why do you do all of these things, taking care of your family, having responsibilities and working? The other series of answers comes right after: “Because I have to make money,” “Because I’m a goal-oriented person,” “Because I love my family” and so on.
True, these may be the short answers to why we wake up and why we do what we do, but there is a profound answer that changes people’s perception. The reality is we wake up every day and we do what we do because we want to be happy. People have families, jobs and responsibilities and set goals because these things contribute to their happiness.
We all are pursuing happiness. Nevertheless, sometimes we get lost pursuing happiness. Other people have put in our head ideas about happiness. Each society has created a set of beliefs that has contributed to people’s decisions about their pursuit of happiness.
Steve Jobs said, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” What would you do if today were your last day? Would you spend time with your family or watching TV? Would you use your money by giving it to someone who needs it or would you buy something that is acceptable by society? Would you smile and enjoy the view or would you find all the negativity of life? How can you make yourself happy in the last day of your life? What about all you have done and not done yet? Are you happy with your past and present?
Many people are afraid to die, and I think the reason is because they have not accomplished many of their dreams. They are putting their dreams off until “tomorrow” when they have enough money, when they don’t need to work, when they get the house, when they get married, when they have time, when they don’t have worries and so on.
As people pursue happiness, their health deteriorates, their emotions are repressed, their level of stress increases, they are busy with trivial things and they abandon their loved ones. In other words, they get further from their happiness instead of closer.
Do your spiritual practice, health, family, profession and finances contribute to your happiness? What can you do to improve each area? I think happiness is an everyday decision and reflects the real things that you want from the bottom of your heart. I have been pursuing the happiness I lost while practicing what society thinks is happiness. But I have never been so happy every day (even when things go wrong) as I have been since I started taking care of my spiritual connection, health, family, profession and finances.
Give yourself 10 minutes today and think about the person who you need to become to really enjoy unconditional happiness.
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