Joy is a choice. Now I know that we all know a couple of people who seem to be happy pretty much all of the time and for sure, some people have a higher happiness baseline than others. But the most current research on joy and happiness has proven that we truly have the ability to make choices in our lives that will bring more joy to our days and happiness to our hearts. While there are many tactics that can work, here are our top nine.
Okay now, when was the last time you did something nice for yourself? When did you last take the time to cook yourself a healthy breakfast, pack yourself a great lunch, make a date with a girlfriend, read a good book or do something active and fun (I’m thinking tennis with a friend, take a long walk, hit the gym, take a Zumba class ... you get the idea).
And now I ask you: why do we take such good care of our families while we treat ourselves like an afterthought?
Two years ago, we were looking for a new office. Our old office building had been sold and the new landlords were … well, let’s just say we needed a new office and fast. We signed a lease on garage space and were scheduled to begin moving in the next day when I woke up in a sweat and realized the space would not work. There was no parking and no storage. It was too small. Trucks would never be able to make deliveries. It was dark and it was going to be a disaster. We couldn’t move in there.
I was panicked.
My dad was a sprinter and from him, I inherited a love of going fast and going all out for a short time. Digging deep into a project, working incredibly hard and racing to the finish, out of breath and spent. When I lace up my sneakers and head out the door, I usually walk. But sometimes, I run. On those days, I will jog for a bit before I feel the itch to run, and I’ll set a finish line in my mind. I will sprint to that driveway, I’ll think and off I go, running as fast as I can.
Yesterday, I solved a major hurdle in bringing the next phase of 99 Walks to life. It was a problem I’ve been struggling with for five months. I’ve had a dozen calls, spent hours researching, asked a hundred questions and got a hundred different answers. Yesterday, I found a solution.
I should have felt fantastic. I should have taken the afternoon off or, at the very least, taken a long walk in one of my favorite places. But I didn’t. Instead, I checked it off my list and asked myself “what’s next?”
When I was a kid, studies came out that suggested that the artificial sweetener saccharin was a possible carcinogen. It was just what the sugar industry needed to launch an extensive advertising campaign aimed at winning back those customers who had abandoned sugar for the stuff in the little pink packages.
I love deadlifts, a deceptively simple exercise where you bend over, grip a barbell that is resting on the floor, and stand up.
I have hurt my back six times doing deadlifts over the course of the last three years. Each time, I feel my lower back strain with awful pain at the very start of the lift, just as I’m trying to lift the bar off the ground. That night will find me on an ice pack and during the ensuing three days, my entire back will go into spasm. It is difficult to sit, impossible to drive and utterly miserable. At some point, I manage to find my way to my chiropractor or acupuncturist who manages to get me back on my feet. Then in about a week, I head back to the gym, treating each move carefully, slowly and mindfully. Months go by. I get stronger and move faster. And then I get arrogant and sloppy. And then boom.
After college, Eric (99 Walks co-founder and my husband) taught skiing for three winter seasons while he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. One of his favorite stories is about a group lesson comprised of a bunch of eight-year-olds on a snowy Saturday morning. Just before lunch, Eric led the group to the top of a big, open trail. It would be challenging for them but not beyond their abilities. Most of the group took off, whooping and hollering as eight-year-olds are known to do when skiing.
Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reap the benefits of living a life of increased gratitude.
There is no one right way to do it. Here are three simple ideas, all of which can work because the most effective way to keep a gratitude journal is simply the one that you stick with.
Having skipped out of high school after my junior year, I arrived at the University of Maryland a newly minted 17-year-old. Accompanied by my parents, we moved my stuff into my dorm room and headed to the armory to register for my freshman classes. This was a decade before class registration was moved online. Together, my parents and I waited in the various lines. Freshman English, check. Math 101, check. Biology, check. Intro to business management, check. And then it was time for electives so off we went to the registration desk for the dance department. “Sorry,” the woman behind the desk said. “You can’t take that class unless you are a dance major.”
My dad was a competitive sprinter, meaning that the majority of his running success was predicated on races that lasted less than a minute. When the race is that short and that intense, one of the things that separate the victor from those in second, third and even last place, is the start. Runners crouch down at the starting line, place their heels against the starting block and wait for the gun to go off. And when it does, they come off of that block with tremendous focus and intensity and give the next seconds everything they’ve got. They will end the race gasping for air.
You already know that walking is good for you in a whole host of ways, from your physical well-being to your mental health and beyond. But have you ever considered the ways that walking is good for the environment? In honor of Earth Day, here are three ways our Earth says "thank you" when you choose to walk instead of drive.