Want to improve your relationship with your significant other, child, parent, friend, coworker or neighbor? Want to grow your career or make a bigger impact in your church, school or workplace? I have one simple tip that can change your future. It is not a pushup or a squat or a fitness move. Commit to becoming a happier person. That is it. Be positive even when life is not easy, especially when life is not easy.
Instead of barking at people, or gossiping, or reacting or over-reacting, or getting mad, just listen, take a breath and decide if it's worth it to fuel the fire or move on. Moving on is usually the smarter way to go because you waste so much energy living someone else's agenda.
When you turn up the volume on happiness in yourself, others will notice and want to be more engaged with you. What makes you happy? Know it. Create more of those moments and your happiness will start gaining serious momentum. Hopefully the things that create happiness for you are not just television shows, movies, social media or games. That's checking out of your own reality and living somewhere else. This can be fun in small doses (movie night with your significant other), but don't forget to build your own experiences. Create your own movie in life.
Hopefully your happiness comes from something more meaningful than money. Money can buy freedom and choices, but if you're not happy while you're earning it, you won't be happy when you get there.
Hopefully your happiness comes from something with more of an emotional connection. Things like having a great conversation or fun experience with people you love. I sat on the sidelines with my daughter the other night and watched my son's soccer practice. No phones, no distractions. We just chatted about her dreams.
She's only 10 years old, but she wanted to talk about running for student council, getting involved in the Young American's performance group this summer, taking a babysitting course at the hospital, meeting new friends in junior high and getting better at the sports she loves. It was such a simple but meaningful conversation that brought me happiness and influenced the rest of my night.
What else can make you happy? Things like helping other people in a way that uses your gifts. My coworker Kelly Lake lit up the other day when she was telling me how much personal satisfaction and pure happiness she gets from teaching a weekly yoga class to people in our community with mental health or substance abuse struggles. When you help others live a better life, you help yourself on the way. These real experiences in life bring us deep joy and make us more attractive to the people in our lives.
Not sure it is true that happiness makes you more attractive? Think about your favorite people. My favorite people are those who add energy, smiles and creative ideas to my daily life. Do you agree? Can you think of those people and tell them how much you appreciate them? People I distance from are those who are jealous, spiteful or are always complaining. Those people can swim in the same negative pool and feed each other's bad attitudes with their own. They will feel entitled to success or happiness because someone else has it, not because they have genuinely earned it.
Happiness isn't granted. Happiness is earned by what you put out to the world. Happiness isn't granted by tearing others down. It's earned by building others up. The difference is huge.
I can point to a time in my life when I really dialed into creating happiness from within by making changes to my daily life. The result? My whole life changed.
I met my husband Jeff on a blind date at a Chinese Restaurant in Madison, Wis., when I was just 21 years old. He was charming, but humble. I knew he was a keeper. Just weeks before that first date, I started teaching group exercises classes at a local health club. I also took up running and found a career in journalism that really inspired me and kept me on my toes. Sure, I also had struggle. I had issues in my family life, long hours at work, school debt and insecurities. But I was also living each day to get better, much of it fueled by fitness. That put me in a very good place in life to meet someone special. I felt good about myself and was happy on my own. Jeff added to my happiness of course, but I had to start with it. You need to start with it.
Yes, this lesson of happiness comes back around to fitness. If you're struggling to find happiness, start by feeling better about yourself. Start by creating more energy in your body. Start by taking a bigger step toward living fit. When you're fit, you laugh more, you have more energy, you sweat off stress. You feel more confident, you are more positive and you have more goals for life.
Your action list for the weekend is to make a commitment to smile more, gossip less, engage in a great conversation, have a fun life experience, and fuel up with some physical activity. Become the happiest person in the room. Check it off, one by one. Others will notice and will be inspired to follow suit.
Trina Gray is the owner of Bay Athletic Club, a mother of two, a national presenter on fitness and wellness and a change agent in the community. Her wellness column appears monthly.