There is a turning point it appears, when our bodies are not quite as fast, fit, agile.
For those over forty you are probably nodding wisely.
For those under, you are probably rolling your eyes. Well, enjoy that your body probably does what you want, when you want it to, mostly, and probably heals rather quickly too? Think a couple of weeks for a sprain versus a couple of months! Sad, when you know not to bother volunteering to fill in for a social game of netball anymore, because one likes to keep ones knees intact, or running for that matter, same thing.
Although I am a daily and avid walker, my sons think the other mums are much fitter, because they run! Although, truthfully I think it is actually the same three mums they see running round the neighbourhood.
Too much horse-riding in my youth, too much competitive sports for other mums, equals an average knee and walking, not running for yours sincerely. Kudos, seriously (!), to the mums who sat on their bums the last 20 years, and who are now doing competitive multi-sports, no wear and tear on those knees baby.
Anyway, that was context, what has been rumbling through my mind are the topics ‘happiness’ and ‘being unwell’ physically. Are they mutually exclusive, can you be unwell and happy? If you are unwell, are you unhappy? If you are happy does it mean you are not unwell?
We came out of lockdown last week, back to work. Seven weeks at home, some sinus issues (hayfever) during that time and all of one headache, sleep-ins too and still at work by 8.15am. Week one back at work, pressure to do things that are impossible in part time hours, and two stress headaches later had me crawling into bed in a dark room.
Was I unhappy? I analysed that, nope, not unhappy, just want to sleep thank you very much.
Twisted knee with pinched nerve, unhappy? Nope, I can still appreciate that I am sitting in a warm room and someone is bringing me an icepack, and a cup of tea.
Big, bad things going on in life, am I unhappy? I don’t think so, we just get on and deal with them, and then cry and argue afterwards to release the stress! Smaller things, a cold, a sore toe, finger, sinusitis, I am not so good with those… I complain and feel a bit sorry for myself.
Husband guy points out what I am doing. There is the possibility of course that my negative reactions don’t actually make me happy, and possibly make me slightly annoying to be around, hhmm.
It’s a choice, isn’t it? You have to work hard and intentionally choose to focus on the good things, especially when one is not feeling so well. And there are things that are positive, a warm bath, a warm drink, paracetamol, sleep in a dark room.
Chronic pain, long term illness, your body letting you down. I don’t doubt that any one of those things can make you deeply unhappy. But the reverse can also be true, a research study* with healthy patients and dialysis patients (enduring hours on dialysis machines a week) showed the dialysis patients were just as happy as their healthy counterparts.
Speculating, the things that made the patients happy may have been different than what made their healthier counterparts feel good. I think anyone who is ill, or dealing with health issues, would choose to be well, but being sick doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. And being happy doesn’t mean you are necessarily feeling well physically. Following that thought process means that you can of course feel perfectly well physically and still be unhappy.
We all have the choice then, to choose happiness is the first secret to happiness. And the second secret follows closely, as Dalai Llama the IXV said “Happiness is not ready made. It comes from your own actions“.
*J Riis, G Louwenstein, J Baron, C Jepson, A Fagerlin, PA Ubel. Ignorance of hedonic adaptation to hemodialysis: a study using ecological momentary assessment (2005). Journal of Experimental Psychology.