You Have the Power to Change Your Life
Regardless of your circumstances, if you are not content, there are changes that you can make that will increase your contentment. In this article, we will address what we consider to be a “normal” level of discontent, and one of the best strategies to increase your happiness. We are not discussing clinical depression. That is a serious medical problem that requires a professional intervention. See your doctor if you have the signs and symptoms of depression.
By “normal” level of discontent I’m referring to the everyday thoughts that we could be doing better. You know, the “I just don’t know how my life turned out this way.” kind of generic misery that is pervasive in American society. It’s an epidemic. For the most part, I think that we’re spoiled. We think that our lives should read like a romance novel or a sitcom and when that is seldom the truth, we decide that we blew it. There may be an element of truth in that, however, we do not, let me repeat, do NOT have to stay that way! Our lot in life is up to us to a great degree. While some people do seem to have better opportunities than others, we can all make changes that will increase our happiness.
A Key to Happiness
One of the most powerful mind/mood altering elements known to man is effective on a daily basis, affordable, legal, available in multi platforms, is not addictive and has no negative side effects. It is, yep, you guessed it, exercise…activity…movement…working out. “Usually within five minutes of working out, you get a mood enhancement effect.” Couple this feel-good, can-do mindset with a healthy body and there is no limit to your capabilities. Your mental strength increases right along with your physical strength. “Exercise could help to ward off panic attacks…” If you suffer from anxiety, PTS, depression or any other mental/emotional/psychological difficulty, exercise can help that. A leisurely stroll will do you some good and any exercise is better than nothing, however, there is a lot of evidence that strenuous exercise can do more. There are exceptions to this. Use common sense. Do whatever empowers you.
Exercise can awaken the beast that lies within, the source of your strength, the part of you that literally fights for your life. Very soon after I began lifting heavy, I got serious about recreating my entire life. Once you discover that you can do hard things that you never dreamed that you could do, there is no limit to what you will attempt. Mind you, there are those who will not understand what you’re doing. The very nature of “CHANGE” terrifies the tamer soul. When these people, with these mild temperaments see you altering your life to be happy, they will most likely think that you’ve lost your mind. The truth is, you’ve lost THEIR mind. You are finding yours.
There are Rules
When we work out hard our bodies need a day to rest between workouts. I’ve known people who were determined to break this rule and lifted heavy, or ran hard, every single day…for a while…and then the injury hit. Trust me on this. Regardless of your age, gender or physical condition if you train really hard every single day, you will sustain an injury. Then you’ve got to stop the strenuous exercise to heal…and then, in that season, you will get muscle atrophy and lose ground. Don’t you know that it would have been better to just go by the rules to begin with and make slow and steady progress? I have to temper myself here, and I do. I have seen more than one person injure themselves over-training. After injury, the time when you can’t work out is a dangerous time for depression and weight gain. You can lose it all. Just go by the rules, they exist for a reason.
Once you begin to get strong and feel better, there are changes that take place in your mind. There is an area of study that shows strong correlation between exercise and empowerment. It shows that the mastery of the workout and self-determination may trigger a sense of autonomy, or independence. This leads to empowerment. Nothing feels as good as empowerment. It means that I am the captain of my fate. I do not have to take potluck. I decide what’s brought to the table and then I decide if I want it.
Once you decide on the type of exercise that you want to do, go as hard as your physician will allow. On your off days, walk. “Exercise is the best restorative exercise.” (David Yochim). No truer words have ever been spoken. I truly love my walks. I walk long and hard but it’s nothing compared to rising from a heavy squat, so it’s actually an off day from strenuous activity. Everything works better after those walks. I am invigorated and pumped to do the things that I tend to put off. After a good walk, I’m ready to conquer the world. After a hard weight workout, I’m ready to rest.
Commit to Yourself
Choose the days that you will do the hard workout, and do it on those days. David taught me this. He says to make that your job on those days and that is what works best for me. If I start changing my workout days, sooner or later, I’ll miss one. Missing workouts is bad for me mentally and physically. I’ve found that the earlier in the day that I do it, the stronger I am in the workout, providing I have eaten enough calories. Just get it done anyway that you can. I’ve been known to do it in the middle of the night because honestly, anything is better than missing it for me. I have found that I need to do my workouts when I don’t feel rushed. Do what works best for you, but after years of working out, these are some of the things that I have learned.
You may have to miss some social activities to commit to your workout but tell me now… Had you rather be sitting in a room full of mostly unhealthy, unhappy “friends acquaintances and frienemies” sipping sugar and eating salt or had you rather feel the wind in your hair, your muscles pumping, sweating and knowing that you are doing exactly what you should be doing for yourself, challenging the status quo, getting hot and healthy and defying your age, your genetics and all the naysayers that try to tell you to “act your age”…what?… age equals sick and out of shape?…I don’t think so. 64 is better than 40 for me.
After you’ve taken these steps 1-doctor’s permission, 2-type of exercise and 3-commitment, repeat…and repeat again. Never stop. Don’t look back. You will never be the same once you discover the power within.