Let's face it, getting fit and staying fit doesn't solve all of life's problems, and it certainly doesn't guarantee that you'll be happy.
Your fitness level doesn't run parallel with how much you enjoy life.
I've met some very unfit individuals that genuinely seem to have all the joy and contentment that anyone could ask for. Conversely, I've met some of the fittest individuals who were severely lacking in the joy department.
Being fit and keeping it that way or reaching related goals is a great accomplishment. At first these achievements provide satisfaction and joy but this fades away eventually. No different than being full after a meal followed by an inevitable empty stomach.
Fitness is without a doubt a catalyst for change but it's not a cure-all solution, especially if you still find it hard to smile. If that's the case for you, it's vital to find a way to enjoy life alongside your fitness routine.
What's the solution then? If you're trying to get fit or stay fit how do you enjoy life, not only amidst your workouts, but beyond them?
There's several things you can do to fight back and claim the joy that's been lost or forgotten. I've created a list below of 10 things that will lead to more joy in life if you consistently apply the ones that suit you best:
1) MAKE A NOT TO DO LIST
That's right, we're starting with what not to do! In order to make way for the good stuff, you need to purge and get rid of the bad habits, toxic relationships, negative thinking, and so on . . .
Your breakthrough could be as simple as going to bed earlier, rising earlier, less screen time, healthier relationships, no more junk food, better spending habits, etc.
Create a list of things that are slowing you down and keeping you down, put it somewhere you'll see it daily, and avoid doing them.
2) PRACTICE BEING THANKFUL
If you're living in Canada or any first world country, you're already more fortunate than most of the world's population.
I just finished a book called "Running For My Life". In this book, Lopez Lomong recalled being in a refugee camp, telling himself that the students who had pens or pencils must be rich given that he had to learn by writing with a stick in the dirt.
Little did he know that those students, with what we consider cheap and basic things, were sponsored by World Vision or the like. Knowing his perspective on what he thought rich was just goes to show how blessed you really are.
Count your blessings. All of them. Fresh water, clean air, every bit of clothing you have, transportation, food, opportunity, family, friends, furniture, technology, anything, and everything!
3) CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Where you live, where you work, where you go. These are some of your most common environments. Maybe it's time to make a change to one or more, perhaps all of the above.
If you want to enjoy your life, your environments need to reflect that.
If your place is a mess, you hate your job, and you never explore new places, then it's up to you to make some changes. Sometimes you need to shake things up a bit to invigorate your life again.
Clean your place up, move some things around, make it more pleasant, move somewhere new if you must, go to work with a positive mindset, if you still don't like your job start looking for a new one, and try going somewhere different than the usual.
4) IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
This is a tough one because a lot of the times the relationships that bring us down stem from family and life-long friendships. I'm not suggesting you burn all your bridges, rather, rebuild them if you can.
The individuals in your life that constantly complain about everything, only support you if there's something in it for them, and those who clearly put you down . . . need to be checked.
If that rings a bell, it's time to have a conversation with them. It's time to be upfront with them and let them know that you're on a new path. It's time to set boundaries, in a kind and loving way of course . . . perhaps with a mediator if need be (trusted friend/counselor).
5) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WATCH
I'm sure you've heard it said that the eyes are the window to the soul. I'd agree with that.
What you read, the movies you watch, all the YouTube you stream, the mindless scrolling on your phone, it all shapes you and moves on your emotions and mindset. If you think it doesn't, then keep fooling yourself.
It may be time to purge what you're used to absorbing and replacing it with some more uplifting and inspiring scenery.
6) STOP LISTENING TO JUNK
The eyes are the window to the soul but I'd also add the ears.
Conversations that you have, music that you listen to, it can sway the emotions and mind just the same as what you allow your eyes to see. Once again, if you think it doesn't, then keep fooling yourself.
Have you every tried going a day without your headphones plugged in your ear or listening to the radio as per usual? Try it, it's peaceful.
Next, evaluate if what you're listening to all the time is good for your joy. If it's always sad music, aggressive nonsense, or angry hype music . . . are you really enjoying life?
7) DO WHAT YOU LOVE
This was an obvious one to have on the list.
Life gets so busy for so long that we forgot all about the things we used to enjoy doing. If that's you, it's time to create some non-negotiable time for you to go and rekindle your relationship with pass-times you once pursued or recently neglected.
Now, what if you have no idea what you used to enjoy or if you ever enjoyed anything at all? For one, I'm sure there was SOMETHING you used to enjoy at least a little, but if not then the next thing on the list is for you . . .
8) TRY NEW THINGS
I for one refuse to go to live my entire life doing the same things over and over and over again. Mainly because that's simply boring but I also can't help but wonder what I may stumble upon if I keep seeking new opportunities and experiences.
You don't need to go overboard and over-saturate your life with hobbies. That wouldn't be good. But not mixing things up once and a while is even worse.
If you don't know where to start, call a friend and figure something out or google "new things to try" and see where it takes you.
9) TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Don't just workout, take care of yourself in all areas of your life.
Don't be afraid to hit the breaks so you can rest and recover. Do go for some walks on your own to get some fresh air. Get out of town for the weekend. Get together with that friend or friends you haven't spent time with in a while and socialize.
Your body is a vessel that carries what you consistently feed it; fill your body, mind, and soul with good things.
10) HELP OTHERS
Last but definitely not least, go help somebody that needs help.
I don't fully believe it when I hear someone say "you can't help someone unless you help yourself first." I think that's a very vague statement.
Have you ever gone to work (or anywhere for that matter) even though you were having a bad day and still managed to help somebody out? Exactly, it is possible to help someone even if you need some help too.
Helping someone in need doesn't require you to be your best self, all it takes is showing up and lending a helping hand.
Helping others, and I mean genuinely helping someone expecting nothing back, is one of the most gratify feelings there is.
GET FIT, STAY FIT, ENJOY LIFE!
It's tough to get fit, it's just as hard if not more difficult to stay fit, and if you can't enjoy life it doesn't matter if you're fit or not. Wherever you are on your journey with fitness and more importantly life, try implementing these different ways to find and keep joy.
If the journey isn't enjoyed, you won't enjoy the destination.
If you're finding your path in life hard to enjoy and it's a struggle to enjoy new things, keep trying. You have to fight back, not just for yourself, but for those you love the most. your future self will thank you for it.
Apply the list above to your life (in no particular order and the ones that serve you best) and do it consistently. I guarantee that if you do, if you press on despite how hard it gets, you'll find yourself enjoying life a lot more and your workouts will be that much better.
Personally, I've often struggled in this department, to keep my spirits up despite life's difficulties and unexpected twists and turns. But I've found these applications to be very helpful. I hope they serve you just as well.
Oh, and if you still don't know where to start on the list, go workout, then go from there!
. . . but make sure to smile on the way:)
Get Fit, Stay Fit, Enjoy Life!
Stephen C. Langhjelm