To suffer is to have a purpose. Happiness is a match and joy is the lifelong fuel to your health and fitness fire. Without bitter suffering, getting to the end isn’t as sweet.
BONUS — I created a podcast on a similar topic called “Stoicism” that is based around health and fitness served up as a metaphor for life.
To some, the title might sound like semantics. But a few questions for you, me and the world;
- How do we obtain happiness and/or joy?
- How do we keep it?
- Is pop culture the reason we have these bullshit expectations?
- Why is it such a struggle for so many first world people to obtain it?
I googled the definition of both and they came back with something like this;
- feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
- fortunate and convenient.
- [Noun] a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
- [Verb] rejoice.
Hrrrmm, interesting. More interesting is that the word happiness is in the definition of joy. But can you give me an objective definition of something so subjective to each and every person?
The opposite of love is…
Tim Ferriss said happiness can be bought with a bottle of wine (and some would say a few lines of coke and a hooker… but that’s for another conversation). He also went on to talk about how happiness is technically bullshit. Because the opposite of happy isn’t sad. That’s the other side of the same coin. It’s like most people think love is the opposite of hate. False. The opposite of love is indifference. If you can love something you can hate something because you have passion and desire and are invested in it in some form or another. Indifference though and giving zero fucks about something or someone is pretty powerful.
Same could be said with happiness. The opposite of happiness isn’t sadness. It is actually boredom.
I have this fantasy like idea and life exception that if I can keep solving problems it’s like a video game. I level up and beat the boss and then life is easy.
I probably should try to think of every day as a challenge. A blank sheet of paper. And whatever I draw on it is whatever it is. Just be happy with it and love the challenge. But I fucking can’t. That shit is hard. I want to cry and bitch and moan when my daily schedule gets thrown off at 9 am.
It’s like I’m reaching up to the 5th shelf to get some cookies… but I just can’t get past the 4th shelf due to a biological limitation.
As I think about my life I’ve had this “struggling to find harmony” feeling for most of my adult conscious state. I look back on all of those big events or things I was longing for (i.e.; that new car upgrade, new music equipment, that girl, that trip to wherever, etc) and when I was doing the thing it was a struggle and a thirst that was never quenched.
But when I look back to that time I have this romantic idea of what I was doing and I was actually happy. Maybe I’m fortunate in the fact that I haven’t suffered one big tragedy but have been suffering for a long time or maybe I just forget easily the pain as I’ve never really been sad or depressed. Most life challenges were growing experience for me and I learned and cherish them now.
Beware of The Hedonic Treadmill
[Below excerpt taken from Robert Wright’s “Why Buddhism is True” Book]
“Underlying this all is the happiness delusion. As the Buddha emphasized, our ongoing attempts to feel better tend to involve an overestimation of how long ‘better’ is going to last. What’s more, when “better” ends, it can be followed by ‘worse’ — an unsettled feeling, a thirst for more. Long before psychologists were describing the hedonic treadmill, the Buddha saw it.
In fact, natural selection doesn’t even care about our short-term happiness. Just look at the price of all those false positives: being terrified by a snake that isn’t there ninety-nine times in a row could take a toll on a person’s psychological well-being.
The good news, of course, is that on the hundredth time the fear may have helped keep our ancestors alive and thus led ultimately to the creation of us. Still, we are the heirs of this tendency toward false positives — not just in the realm of snakes but in the realm of other fears and everyday anxieties.
As Aaron Beck, who is sometimes called the founder of cognitive-behavioural therapy, has written, ‘The cost of survival of the lineage may be a lifetime of discomfort.’ Or, as the Buddha would have put it, a lifetime of dukkha. And the Buddha might have added: But this cost is avoidable if you address the psychological causes of it head-on.”
How does this tie into health and fitness for you?
There are many ways but I’ll give you a personal and anecdotal one.
I train and I’m super active daily. I train not for an end goal but because I have an objective to get faster and better every few months with a time trial or race. That is still my short term motivation. My long term motivation to train on a daily basis is because it’s who I identify as. I love the routine and my joy is in suffering.
Someone close to me told me that life is just in accepting each day as it is. I attempt to accept how I feel and be aware of what it is. If I’m frustrated, it’s just how it is and I accept that. I attempt to minimise what negative thing I’m doing to be marginally better with it the next time around. Sounds easier said than done like pretty much everything in life but I’m okay with that. 1 per cent better each day.