Skip to content

Staying Happy.

28 May 2015

I run in large part to be happy. I run because I like the way it makes my body feel when I’m done. I like the way it regulates my mood. The combination of exercise and sobriety has meant that I have not had to confront depression in any major way for the past several years. A couple of little dips, certainly. But nothing significant or alarming. Even last year when I thought I needed a course of anti-depressants, my doctor didn’t think so, and he was right. I came through it just fine. I wasn’t depressed. I was a little overwhelmed and a little anxious and a little sad. I know how to cope with those things now.

I run to be happy. I run because I feel excited that I can do things now that once were absolutely impossible for me. I run because it makes me feel good to do difficult things that I know not many people attempt. I love that I can run. I love that I’m fit enough to run for two hours or more without stopping. I wish I could do better. I can do better. I will keep running. I will do other things that allow me to run better. I will set goals to run further and faster. I will work harder to achieve those goals.

What I won’t do is incorporate my self-worth into a metric. I won’t decide whether I had a good or a bad race based on who I defeated. Based on hitting a specific time. I run to be happy. And that happiness is not enslaved to arbitrary benchmarks.

Whether I go faster tomorrow or slower, whether I lose by a little or lose by a lot (because winning a race is not in my future, and I don’t much care), I will be happy I could run. I can do things I only dreamed about. And the fact that I’ve worked so hard to do the things I dreamed about has allowed me to discover that I can do things I never even dreamed about. And so running has enlarged my dreams. My ambitions.

Whatever I do today is good. Yesterday I mostly rested. I hadn’t rested in a long time. Resting, for me, on this Wednesday, meant my 1.2 mile walk to and from work. And a 2.2 mile bike ride each way to and from my Men’s Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. A total of about an hour of very light cardio. No pounding. No heaving. But only a few years ago, a 2.4 mile walk, a 4.4 mile bike ride, would have been exhausting, major challenges. Yesterday, I did both in the same day and it was a rest day. That makes me happy.

I’m obsessive about measuring things. I keep track of all my runs, all my rides. Store them in spreadsheets. I like to accumulate things. Experiences. But I don’t much care if it’s more or less than someone else. I like to do things that few people try, yes. But I also like to encourage others to try them. Come find what I have. I’m an evangelistic runner. I want to share what I’ve found, what I think is a path to greater happiness.

Run like hell. It doesn’t matter how far. It doesn’t matter how fast. I like to work to do better. Sometimes that means faster than before. Sometimes that means further than before. Sometimes it just means that today, I didn’t have much but I gave what I had. And maybe it was a little better than the last time I didn’t have much but I gave what I had. Maybe it was a little worse. But it was what I had, today. And offering that up gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Staying happy is easier these days. I think partly, it’s that I decided I wanted to be happy. I used to be deeply invested in my unhappiness and I imagined that that made me profound and important. It did not. Deciding I preferred happiness to misery was a difficult decision. I know how odd that sounds to people who haven’t ever had to make that decision. But it’s true.

I used to be in the dark. For so long. I chose to be in a small, dark place, alone. Having now emerged into light, sometimes I feel like the whole sun is a spotlight, just for me. I feel special. I feel special to be bathed in all this happiness, all this sunshine.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 May 2015 19:07

    Loved this post. Run on 🙂

  2. Honey permalink
    29 May 2015 11:42

    My sixteen year old son recently asked me to start taking him to the gym with me. We do a strength work out there and then stop at the park on the way home for a short run. He can’t yet do a whole mile but he is motivated and willing so it won’t be long. I’m so excited that my role modeling seems to have encouraged him – the process of attraction you know . We were talking with another gym member last night about how yes, running (and exercise in general) will change your body, but more importantly, it will change your mind, and therefore, your life!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: