I decided today that I need to add another precept to my Happiness Manifesto: Move Your Body. I made a last-minute decision to run a 5K this morning and am so glad I did. I got all sweaty, made some friends, supported a great cause, kicked off the weekend.
After every yoga class or jog through my neighborhood, I feel like I could do anything – I’m confident and happy, energized and excited – even if before the workout I was a little run-down or stressed. It all dissipates. And yet I still have to talk myself into exercising. Why is it so hard to remember how good I feel after working out? (Is it the same failure of memory that allows me to forget what that third glass of wine will do to my head the next morning?) Maybe it’s because I think if I’m already tired, doing more “work” won’t help me feel better. But if I re-frame the exercise not as “work”, but as a wake-up call for all the good energy (and neurochemicals) that my body is keeping hidden, then exercise becomes a treasure hunt, where the loot is a great day.
As a side bonus, I’ve found that I meet some really great people every time I work out: people who exercise regularly are some of my happiest and most balanced friends. Not that every problem is solved with sweat, but it seems they’re armed with some extra weapons in the daily assault of negativity all around us. I know science is proving this all the time, but it still comes as a welcome surprise to find the evidence all around me.
It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.
-Marcus Tullius Cicero