For the third time, I had a woman sticking a needle into my finger. This time, I could feel it go deep enough to draw more blood. “Good,” she muttered, probably as relieved as I was. “You stopped healing so quickly.”
I was at a biometric screening, put on by my employer. We were incentivized with a pretty nice gift card. Money motivated me to go in and do a basic health checkup, which is what led me to get three finger pricks and annoy one nurse.
Of course, as most seemingly minute things do, it got me thinking about life — specifically, we are often motivated by the hope to achieve or receive something. It’s in that motivation where our joy, pain and suffering lie.
The fact of the matter is, we do a lot of things in life because, like a rabbit chasing a carrot, we are after a prize. We aren’t in it for the race, simply that carrot dangling from that stick. After we get that carrot, or that gift card, we end up finding another carrot to chase, another dollar to make — and we’re right back where we started: looking for that next “thing” with no real purpose in place.
Life becomes less complicated once we realize that after we get our current desire fulfilled, we still feel the same unfulfillment we did before. It means we have the tools to make ourselves happy, and it won’t come from anything or anyone we want.
Life is all about the scenery along the route. It’s not about the carrot on the stick. Let’s take a deeper look at exactly what motivates us — namely, what motivates us to be healthier and happier.
In my last story, I talked about working out to be healthier and happier instead of to be someone or something. We want to look like “her,” or we want to look like “that” in those jeans.
There is an infinite amount of possibilities for any given situation, and we limit ourselves by having an attachment to one result. We also eliminate the opportunity for a surprise ending (my favorite). That’s why, when it comes to workouts especially, it’s important to ask: Is your end goal to achieve something or receive something?
The reason achievements are so powerful is because they come about by effort, skill and/or courage. When something is done with the utmost courage, you can never be disappointed. Ernest Hemingway once said “courage is grace under pressure.” It’s a quote that never appeared in any of his books, but something he was said to have written to a friend, author F. Scott Fitzgerald.
One of the most frustrating things in life is when we don’t “receive” what we hoped for. When it comes to working out — and wanting to look a certain way as a result of our efforts — it can be even more patience-testing to see no changes.
Remember, there is an infinite amount of possibilities in any given situation. Making the choice to work out, eat right and be healthier and happier is the catalyst that opens the door to these possibilities. It’s not your job to control the outcome; you simply need to step out of the cage.
Sometimes it’s hard to work out and be healthier, simply because we don’t enjoy the process. I’ve met so many people who hate lifting or can’t stand running — and my advice is to find something you enjoy and stop doing the things you don’t.
Being a yoga teacher for 10 years has allowed me to meet a lot of people in the health and wellness world. I’ve also met a lot of people who are convinced their way of life is the only way of life. That’s just silly. Their diet is the best diet. Their style of yoga is the best yoga. Their religion is the best religion. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. And believing otherwise is a close-minded way of looking at life. It almost always sets you up for disappointment. Life is constantly changing, and our best chance at happiness is to roll with the waves. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have role models. I’m saying you have to find what works for you right now.
It’s an important step toward happiness and wellness to be able to reflect on what your motivations are. Are they guiding you to achieve something or to receive something? Are you practicing healthy habits that are right for you? Once you realize you are not responsible for the outcome and start opening doors for yourself, you’ll be amazed at the happiness and peace that follow.