This blog started as a way to chronicle my undertaking of this crazy fitness trend known as CrossFit. I parlayed this fitness journey as a metaphor for the most noblest of journeys – the pursuit of happiness.
To pursue something is an active endeavor; you must go after said object. You can stalk it or chase it or bully your way right up to it.
But, as I follow this road they call life I’ve found that happiness isn’t always something to pursue. Happiness isn’t something to obtain and place in your pocket.
Happiness isn’t always something you can control. Sometimes happiness has to find you.
If I’ve written it once I’ve written it a hundred times. I have control issues. I’ve had control issues for as long as I can remember. For school group projects, I always volunteered to be the one to assemble our individual portions into a final project document. More than anything, I didn’t trust my group mates to put commas in the proper places. Yes, I am a definitely a grammar nazi when it comes to the ,.
I get pissed off if there is someone slow in front of me on the interstate and I can’t go the speed I want to go. I can’t stand it if a toilet paper roll faces in rather than out.
Basically I don’t like anything I can’t control. Control excludes chaos, and chaos breeds discontent and anxiety for me. However, what do we know about even the best laid plans? Something always goes awry.
Why do I feel the need to control everything? Why do I believe the preposterous notion that my thoughts and feelings on subject X are correct? Why does the lack of control make me anxious to the point I take a daily prescription to combat anxiety?
I’m pretty sure I know the answer here. Control brings safety. Even if the thing I am trying to control is the “wrong” thing… I’ve satisfied my own mind that I am doing the right thing.
This applies to the gym as well. In my training I try to plan out how I’m going to attack a given workout. Say, I’m going to attack a set of 15 in three 5-rep chunks. Well, if I have to break that last chunk up further to 2 and 3 reps, I’ll feel defeated in my mind, as if one extra stoppage someone makes me less of a person. Yeah, that extreme.
(I’m not saying you shouldn’t at least have an idea of what you’re going to do when you work out… just go with me here.)
I want to control life around me because I don’t trust that what I want to happen will happen if I don’t force it. I do not have the faith in other people that they will do what I want them to do.
Again, why the hell do I think I’m the one that knows what is best and what another person SHOULD do? I don’t. All I know is when certain people do certain things, it makes me happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy?
I don’t have faith in other people because I’ve never given others enough of a chance to prove themselves. I have a reason for that which I’ll get to.
Things that make me happiest in life are little random acts of kindness. Small snippets that show me I’m important to someone else – that they were thinking of me. A text message. A smiley face. A passing touch as we walk by each other. Saying “Hi!” instead of just “Hi.”. Someone liking a post on social media or making a comment on a blog here.
I don’t think I’m that alone here by these small actions making me happy. It’s like there’s nothing special about flowers on Valentine’s Day but getting flowers for no reason at all is always always always more special.
Serendipitous, spontaneous acts that generate happiness. There needs to be an acronym for that; leave me a comment if you come up with one!
More than anything else in life, that’s what makes me happy. Someone showing that they care about me or that I am important in their life. My love language is words of affirmation after all.
Finally, after 700+ words, I arrive at the point I’m trying to make to myself.
I can’t have the spur-of-the-moment showings of love if I insist on controlling everything! By definition, something controlled cannot be spontaneous!
Let’s use this blog as an example. When I wrote my post about meeting Rich Froning, I tweeted my link and tagged Rich. He responded by retweeting my tweet, exposing my post to thousands of potential viewers that I never would have reached any other way. Now, I didn’t ask the four-time-champ to retweet me… but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a big reason why I used his handle in the first place – so there is an element of control present in this situation.
My internet-breaking top post has a little graphic I made using the little catch phrase I created. I don’t care if you don’t CrossFit. I’m happy for whatever fitness you find. Well lo and behold the lovely Christmas Abbott shared this graphic on her Instagram page. She didn’t have a link to my blog and didn’t tag me or have any credit given to me, which is fine. She didn’t try and pass it off as her own. But knowing that something I created resonated with one of the most popular CrossFit personalities bred more satisfaction than any amount of visitors to my blog.
Spontaneity. You can’t pursue that. I know this. So why do I try?
I’m afraid I am not worthy of having people show me serendipitous love.
That’s not me showing pity for myself. That’s real talk. That’s, in my unprofessional opinion, where my control issues and subsequent anxiety stems from. I’m scared shitless that when I am measured, I will be found lacking and unworthy.
Looking in the mirror can be downright terrifying sometimes. The mirror tells the truth. I don’t like seeing all my flaws. And if others can see them as clearly as I can, why would anyone want to show me kindness?
But you know what? Some people do. Some people see me for my good qualities and can look past some of my undesirables. Or at least some people used to.
I had those random acts of love. I had days when I would PR a lift out of the blue. I was happy.
But then what happened? I desired it all the time. I attempted to force acts at all times. I needed a text every hour or I would think someone wasn’t thinking about me. I needed to increase my clean by 5 pounds every week or I was failing CrossFit.
I was so naive. I had (have) such poor self-esteem that I required affection from others to feel happy. I didn’t find any happiness inside myself. And so when I was empty and needed to be appreciated (to feel happy) I tried to rely on others. Newsflash: you can’t rely on others for your own happiness. Someone else can’t MAKE you happy. Someone/something else can contribute to happiness. Full, total, complete happiness may not be possible without certain people in your life… but happiness can still be obtained. Life isn’t all or nothing.
Life isn’t all or nothing. Life is not just the destination. We have to savor the process and the journey, something I have been very poor at doing but am trying every single day to get better at. Because what is happiness without knowing sadness? What is joy without knowing sorrow? What is true love without being rejected first?
I have been so convinced I had discovered my own Rosetta stone. Now, I’m so utterly humbled that I just realized that, like Jon Snow, I know nothing. I’ve been wrong so many times. I just hope that all these things I cannot control… I hope one or two turn out the way I hope.
The impetus for this post was a random like on social media. Totally unexpected, totally random. But it sure did make me happy. Probably a lot happier than it should have. I wasn’t pursuing happiness… yet it found me anyways. At least temporarily.
That happiness carried over to work where I was confronted with a problem I was able to solve, bringing happiness to myself from myself.
And that’s where the real issue lies. It’s not my own actions or the actions of others to me. It’s being content with that man in the mirror. It’s knowing that I am doing the best I can and I can be proud and HAPPY with my life. That’s all we can do – the best we can.
That combination, that tandem of both outside and inside happiness, in the proper proportions… THAT is the true pursuit.
I’m hoping to be both right and wrong. I’m hoping I am right to stop trying to CONTROL happiness and I hope I’m right that happiness will find me. I hope that I am wrong about being unworthy of good things happening to me and I hope I’m wrong about not believing in others. It’s funny, sometimes you’re told EXACTLY what to do to get a desired outcome. I hope that by following the instructions, I’ll get what I want.
It’s hard to have faith when you aren’t shown that your faith will be rewarded. But, I guess that is the definition of faith after all.
So that’s what I’m doing nowadays. I’m having faith. I’m trying to find that happy middle of making myself happy and allowing others to compliment my own happiness. I’m *slowly* getting better at it. One day at a time. One like at a time.
Your turn -> So this won’t be totally spontaneous at all, but leave me a comment! I miss talking to you fine people. =)