TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Well I apologize for the lag in posts but admittedly it’s been a busy few weeks. Tuesday was my last day at my old job before I start a new one Monday. My intention is to keep the topics on this blog entirely separate from my day job, so I’ll be as brief as possible about this but I have to say I have already received seven welcome notes from my new teammates and I absolutely cannot wait to start on Monday. (And I should also insert here the standard disclaimer: the opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect those of either my current or past employers).
I was actually very close to not writing this post today because I have intentionally made this into an extended detox weekend from any kind of work obligations or deadlines. A blog post was simply another bit of added pressure, but I sat down this evening overlooking the twilight on Lake Tahoe feeling like I had to write. So I am.
And this is as it should be. Recently I’ve had an internal battle that I will call the “Happiness Battle.” What is the Happiness Battle? It’s the constant internal recitation of some form of “if I only had X, then I would really be happy.” Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
Admittedly, I’ve played this game as long as I can remember. “X” could be a job, any of a variety of material possessions, or even something perhaps more ostensibly meaningful like a personal relationship. My knee injury has caused the most acute and most recent instance of it for me: “Everything’s great, if only that would heal and I could run 100 percent then everything would be perfect.”
But life doesn’t work that way. If you’re seeking external validation for your happiness, you’re never going to find it. No matter how honorable the wished source of your happiness may be.
This is a lesson that it has taken me a long time to learn. I’ve lived a blessed life so far but I’ve also happened to live in a number of places where “keeping up with the Joneses” is a way of life. I wanted a better car, a better place to live, a better job, a better this or that. Surely enough, however, once I upgraded in one of these areas, a new golden gizmo presented itself.
This is a vicious cycle that will eat you alive if you let it. You’ll never be content, period. As a runner, this has meant for me preparing for the possibility that I might not be able to run like I hope to again. I don’t expect this to happen, but I have to be prepared for that possibility.
How do I prepare for it? I realize that my happiness (or inner peace, or contentment, or however you’d like to define it) has its source entirely within me. It doesn’t come from running, even though that is something I enjoy doing. It doesn’t come from my family, even though we are very close. Instead of looking to others or to some assortment of inanimate objects to fill me with happiness, I take care of it instead. And you know what the crazy thing is? As soon as I decided on this, I had several immediate breakthroughs. I landed the amazing new job. I made some enormous leaps forward on my knee recovery and am now able to run up to 20 minutes. A friend happened to be moving out of his apartment and the timing was perfect so I grabbed it. Now my commute will be 20 minutes where it used to be more than 60.
Isn’t it amazing how all this works? I could go on, there are other recent examples in my life to cite but I think I’ve made my point. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn and some people learn it early; some never learn it. I wish I would have learned it earlier. But if you’re struggling with something right now that you feel is holding you back, let it go. Don’t let it control your happiness. In fact, once you take control and decide to be happy no matter what happens, you’ll be amazed at the happiness-inciting breakthroughs that will suddenly come your way.
BONUS MATERIAL: I’ve been a mini road trip machine of late (scouting potential future racing locations!) and intended to do some travelogue-ing but in the meantime I have photos to share. The first set below is from Eureka, Calif. (and the drive there and back), a town about 250 miles north of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast. I had no idea what to expect there but my two cents on the place is that it has a very coastal Carolina feel but with a northern California hippie twist and visible mountains in the distance. The second set is from today’s Tahoe excursion and includes a few of my Jeep in its “natural” habitat. You might also notice that I’m a train nut…
Until next time!