What Makes You Happy?

As is often the case, today’s blog post is a result of a great blog post that I read a few days ago (I do all the reading for you, cull the list to the great stuff, and pass it along…lucky you!).  This one is by Bret Contreras, who I have talked about before in my post “Does This Make My Butt Look Big?”  Bret’s also known as “the glute guy” and he is often credited with “inventing” the bench hip thrust (see the butt post above for a demo). But today we are not talking about glutes, or even exercises.  Brett wrote a great two-part post called “Happiness: Taking the Bull by the Horns,” (and “Happiness: Taking the Bull by the Horns Part II“) which talks about his recent realization that he wasn’t happy (and what he did about it).   I thought it was a great, very personal post that we could all take something from.  For a little bit of background, about a year ago Bret packed up everything and moved from his home in Arizona to New Zealand to study at a university and work on his PhD.  Besides being the “glute guy,” Bret is also very much into current research involving exercise…he’s a bit of a strength & conditioning nerd (actually, I am realizing a lot of the good ones are!).

In part one of his post, Bret talks about happiness and the research that has looked at it.  It is well worth a read, and helps to set up part 2.  Personally I really liked part 2.  Bret talks about how for a year he crammed as much learning in as possible, and while I think he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, he began to realize that

…this comes at a price. I started getting a gut due to lack of sleep, way too many carbs, too much stress, and not enough physical activity. I was lonely and sad; I missed my friends and family especially my twin brother. I missed predictable sunshine, and I missed a lower cost of living. I didn’t realize it at the time but I believe I was on a pathway to destruction.

Bret then met Dr. Paul Taylor at a conference.  Actually, Bret was also a presenter at the conference and he and Paul roomed together.  Bret describes Paul’s presentations:

Paul’s talks were on body and brain health and performance and their symbiotic relationship with one another; it was a mixture of brain and neuroscience, positivity science, happiness research, child development, psychology, fitness, and health, with well-timed f-bombs and other curse words peppered throughout.

Meeting Paul and hearing him speak turned out to be a life-changing event for Bret.  Post-conference, one of the things Bret started a “gratitude journal.”  Each night he would write down 3-5 things that he was grateful for, trying not to repeat himself.  I thought this was such a great idea, that I plan to start my own journal.  I think it can not only help you realize how good your life is, but also help you see what it is that is important to you.  Are you writing down things like “I made a bunch of money today?”  Nothing wrong with that, if that is what you are grateful for.  Or are you writing “I spent an hour out on the trails walking my dog on a beautiful day?”  What Bret began to see from him journal was that his gratitude centered around relationships with family and friends, social things, having fun, being productive.  And then he had a bit of an epiphany.

All of a sudden it hit me – I am in control of my life. I can do whatever in the hell I want to do. I’m lucky in that I’m my own boss and can live wherever I want. But I wasn’t in a good place and I needed to steer the ship back on course.

I think this point is so important ~ “I am in control of my life.”  Too often when we are sad or unhappy we lose sight of that.  We do control our lives, we can make changes.  Sometimes we might see big roadblocks, but if you want your life to be different there are ways to get there.

At this point Bret basically packed up his stuff, left New Zealand and moved back home.  And guess what…he’s happier.  He’s near his family, which is important to him.  Within a week he had bought a condo and moved in.  It can be done.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  The power of knowing what you want, and realizing it is within your power to make it happen.

I found Bret’s post to be very thought-provoking and inspirational.  It’s not always easy to share things like that, especially with a bunch of people you don’t even know.  A lot of people now know Bret wasn’t happy in New Zealand and he chucked it and went home.  I say good for him.

About Lisa Van Dore

I have lived in Sherborn, Dover and most recently North Walpole, for a total of 15 years (and counting). Having recently been through the process of selling a home and buying (and renovating) a new one, I understand the conflicting emotions of excitement and anxiety inherent in the process, whether you are a seller or buyer, whether this is your first home purchase or your tenth. I have a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Indiana University. My early career found me working as a CPA, and later as the controller of Crate & Barrel. More recently I spent seven years running my own personal training business. I understand the hard work and dedication necessary to build a business and a reputation...most of my personal training clients came to me by referral and my first client was still with me when I decided to leave personal training. This speaks to the level of effort I put forth for my clients, week after week. On a more personal note, I raced triathlon for seven years and more recently completed my first half marathon. In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, Maine, hiking and, in the fall, following college football...my teams are the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!).
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