I completely and utterly believe this with every fiber in my body. I felt compelled to write this after watching the episode of Oprah with Goldie Hawn about happiness (also look into the book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way)
Why? Because it is exactly what has happened to me.
Its no secret that, oh lets say up until 2004, my life was a series of parties (and all that that entails), broken hearts (theirs not mine; honestly), and well, just not a whole lot of substance (unless you count substance abuse). I was self medicated by one thing or the other (sometimes 2 or more at any given time), so on the outside while I might have seemed like the social butterfly who had tons of friends and everything going for her, I didn't. Oh I was so so so angry...Well had I not pissed away a lot of things, the opportunities that I did get, would have stuck better I think.
Anyway, I was torn up on the inside; years of self loathing, bad body image/body dysmorphia, the voices (moms) in my head from all the years of what we will call 'tough love', not to mention the early years of another kind of 'tough love'. Anyway...You know I thought I had happy times, and I guess I did...but not really. Even since 2004, to be completely honest I still fought demons, and instead of me breaking the hearts, mine was getting ripped out of my chest time and time again and this just sunk me further into despair and self hatred. Hey I am trying to be honest here...I guess it was in 2009 where I began to give up. Not on finding happiness; I never 'set out' to do that intentionally ever, so there is that. But in 2009 I was at my lowest on the inside.
Then...suddenly things for whatever reason started getting 'better'. There were a lot of things that I started 'changing' late in the year of 2009, and it wasnt really until the start of 2010 where I felt ... well ... I felt happy. I just kinda started walking to the beat of my own drum more and more often, and I guess yes, spending a lot more time alone which I think helped tremendously. I started weeding out 'friends' that I honestly didn't enjoy hanging out with (added stress), I pretty much COMPLETELY gave up drinking, went vegetarian (almost a year and I still dont eat a lot of meat but I did add it back in), made some new friends and started finding new passions.
One of those is my love of cooking (which is an old passion actually), but with my new improved eating lifestyle I was trying new things and fell in love with foodie bloggers which opened my eyes up to all sorts of new and exciting foods I didnt realize existed. I get excited to go grocery shopping because there is just so much to experiment with; who cares if a lot of my 'extra' $ goes to food; its fuel not only for my body, but for my mind and my soul.
My passion for running continued and with new running friends, it was even more enjoyable, but I slowly began to become that 'lone' runner.
My time outside began to bring a peace about that I had never experienced.
I dated a few people off and on, but nothing stuck. Just no chemistry. And yes I had finally, finally gotten over the disastrous 'relationship' I kept forcing myself back into for a couple of years; honestly the first time I ever had my heart broken. And not just broken, but smashed into thousands of tiny pieces; only repeatedly by the same person. Insane I know.
I finally realized how incredibly 'perfect' I was just the way I was, and that that was just awesome.
Then I found hot yoga. This my friends, I believe, that has been the single most important event to ever happen to me. I have a couple of friends to thank for that, none of which read this blog. Hot yoga has saved me. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it did. And it has.
Since October 2010 (right after Chicago and when I began hot yoga) I have become so incredibly happy and satisifed that sometimes, and I am being completely honest here, that I am moved to tears. When I wake up in the morning I feel happy. When I am at work I feel happy. When I am doing anything lately, I. Am. Happy.
Honestly I cannot for the life of me explain what the hell is going on, but again...You know everything has just changed...things look and feel different. Showers feel different, sleeping feels different, reading feels different, silent time feels different (and is new to me anyway). Everything just feels and even looks different, like I got a new set of eyes or something. I make a lot less money, but I have the essentials and what is important to me is covered and then some. I still save a decent amount of $ too, so its not like I am scraping here; but its funny to realize after going from so much to so little, well lets just say the growing pains of that were indeed difficult, but also a key reason as to how happy I am. My relationships and experiences are what makes me truly happy, not stuff.
And yes, even my running is different...I run and smile and say hi to people I dont know, pet dogs and make faces at them as often as I can...sometimes I take $ with me (never did that before) so you know if I want to go into a store for something I can stop running for 5 minutes and do that, because its ok to stop; really it is...
I literally 'run' errands now. Instead of stopping somewhere on my way home or go in my car, if possible I will run to where ever I need to go, get what I need and then run back. One of my friends does her banking like that for example. Fantastic!
I kinda no longer really think about time goals, at least not right now and not for the most part. Everything is feeling so awesome that why would I want to stress myself out over getting faster? Heck I am actually quite content with my pace at different distances. I worked really hard for the past couple of years to become the runner I am today and I am damn proud of that.
Not only do I feel happiness I never knew existed, I feel incredibly strong. Not like muscle strength (although that too), but I feel like my heart, my head, my soul...all of it...strong.
Sure I still get peeved and even mad to a certain extent sometimes, but the time frame that that lasts? Minimal. I am able to let go and just move on to the next thing that is much happier to think about.
Sometimes I think why didn't this happen before now, and then I stop and realize one should not question the gifts that are bestowed upon them (or when they arrive), but to accept them (and be ready to actually receive them) with grace and humility. I am so lucky that I have found the peace and strength finally to understand the person I was meant to be my whole life. And to accept who I am, what I look like and what I am capable of.
And all I had to do was just to sit, be still, and be quiet for a while.