Happiness is not a marathon (it's more like strength training)

The Akron Marathon is this weekend, and I have two clients and several friends who are running.  Should be a gorgeous weekend!
Thinking about marathons reminded me of a recent discussion I was part of.  I was a guest on a local public radio station show two months ago.  The Sound of Ideas topic was Vacation and Relaxation Deprivation, so most of the show addressed stress in the workplace and our mindsets around not being able to relax. (who better to have on a show about stress than The Executive Happiness Coach! 🙂
I had such a great time! Lots of people called or emailed into the show, and we shared many ideas for how one can take a break from stress, take a mini-vacation, etc. If you’d like to hear the whole show (recording is about 50 mins long) you can pick it up at the WCPN archives, http://www.wcpn.org/index.php/WCPN/soi/12794/
One of the other panelists observed that many people see work as a marathon, an endurance race — “I must keep going, going, going.” In reality, it’s more like strength training; periods of intensity with time off in between for recharging and to allow the muscles to rebuild and strengthen.
As someone who spends regular time on fitness, this metaphor feels quite appropriate, and I believe it applies to many areas of our emotional life, too. If I pursue happiness ALL the time, constantly engaging in pleasurable activities and things that keep my excitement high, then pretty soon I will stop appreciating how great it feels, as it will be the norm — I’ll actually become numb to happiness!
A better approach, IMHO, is to ‘visit’ happiness on a regular basis, in between all the other stuff in my life — frustration, fear, upset, envy, impatience, etc. Then when I experience happiness, it will feel far more powerful and positive as a force of renewal, filling my tank back up.
Just as the body needs downtime for the physical muscles to build strength, the emotional self needs downtime (like meditation, quiet moments, periods of reflection) so we have a chance to actually build the emotional strength and awareness that we so desire.
Practice, rest, renewal.  Happiness is more like strength training, for sure!

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