If you’re not happy…

One of my favorite quotes is “If you’re not happy, it‘s not worth it.” I tell myself on a daily basis that if I’m not happy, it is not worth it. It can be anything from a job to a friendship/relationship to even a simple dinner.

Happiness is truly underrated. I think we should take more cues from our happiness. Our mental health, our physical health and our lives are truly at stake over the time we put off our own happiness.

That’s why I think so many people fail at dieting – they are simply not happy.  If you look at most diets, they take away the fun foods. Carbs: mashed potatoes, french fries, bread; Sugars: cake, pastries, jams; Red Meat: steak. Need I say more? You put me on one of those diets that takes away even one of these food groups, and I’m immediately desperate for that food group. I’m not happy and I’m hungry – not a good set up…

But let’s consider the other options… A) Failed Dieting. Is there anything worse than failed dieting? Yes, there is. But failed dieting has to be up there. Not only did you not lose weight – in fact, you may have actually gained weight – and you’re unhappy because you’ve been starved of the very food you’ve craved for the last X number of days or weeks or months. B) Exercise. But if you’re going to eat what you want, you’ve got to exercise daily. I’m a fan of the 5 on, 2 off rule. I need days off… so everyday exercise, not an option. C) Ignoring weight. This isn’t an option, honestly. Our health is too important to choose to ignore our weight.

But there’s another option. An option that is too often overlooked. How about choosing an individualized “diet” that works for you. For instance, I love dinnertime. My dinner is often a big meal: a plate full of meat, veggies, carbs, plus a salad, wine and sometimes dessert. I do not skimp on dinner. But breakfast and lunch? Give me a cup of coffee and then a smoothie, and I’m good to go. I have a desk job, which means I don’t burn a ton of calories during the first 9 hours of my day. I need enough energy to not fall asleep at my desk, but not too much energy otherwise I’m biting my fingernails and hating the fact that I’m not doing something physical.

But what works for me will not work for others. We read these books and listen to Dr. Oz but we never stop to think that we are all different people. We are quite literally made of different DNA, with different schedules and different needs. We need to take that into consideration for not only our diets, but our entire lives.

Everyone thinks that more money will make them happier. And while that may be true in some cases, it’s certainly not true in others. Accountants and engineers make a lot of money, but many times they work really long hours and under a lot of pressure. What’s all that money worth, if at the end of the day, they’re too tired to enjoy it (Note: this is not true for all engineers and accountants)?

My friends and I were talking over the holiday weekend about a myriad of things: from jobs to relationships to physical things. I re-quoted my favorite quote several times: If you’re not happy, it’s not worth it. 

Obviously this is not the perfect quote. There are times that marriages are not going to be perfect and there will be days and maybe weeks or months that are tough to handle, but that doesn’t mean you leave, give up or rush to divorce.

At the end of the day, if you are not overall happy with your life, then what is worth it? What is worth being unhappy constantly? There are too many things that we do not have control over. We cannot control if we get a debilitating disease early in life that takes away our freedom to walk and do human things by ourselves. We cannot control if we get hit by a drunk driver or a distracted driver and lose a limb, get paralyzed or some other truly horrifying circumstance. We cannot control if we get one of the hundreds of types of cancers or life-threatening diseases that can take away our health for months or life.

But we can control our happiness to some degree. We can find a better job. We can put ourselves in better situations for relationships – whether friendships or romantic. And we can make different decisions – from what we eat to what we do with spare time to how we treat our significant others.

I stick by my favorite quote: If you are not happy, it is not worth it.

I choose everyday to make my happiness – and my fiancé’s happiness – a priority. I had a sign posted over my bed throughout college that said “I choose to be happy because it is good for my health.” During my worst days, that poster reminded me that happiness is a choice. There were days that I would complain, and Joel would remind me of that sign. We choose to be happy. We choose to see the best of things. We choose to find a way to be happy – whether it be through food, through our jobs, through our relationships or through our actions.

And somedays that choice is too hard. Some days it is really hard to choose happiness. There are a lot of distractions that take away from happiness – anger, jealousy, frustrations and fears. Sometimes they can be all consuming. And sometimes, we truly have to seek professional help. But there are some times that we do have that control. And when we have that control, we have to choose to take control.

So those days that that choice is mine to choose… I’m going to choose happiness. So what makes you happy? And I mean truly happy?

I really enjoy a cup of coffee at the beginning of the day with some music playing and I’m sitting in a really comfy “coffee chair” – you know, the type of chair that you can pull your legs up in comfortably without being cramped with the perfect amount of support yet fluffiness. I know you’re picturing that chair…. That’s my happiness. I have puppies chirping at my feet. My soon-to-be husband is probably still snoring (or if I’m lucky bringing me a second cup of coffee). The sun is up but not so far up that I’ve lost the day.

It’s a simple kind of happiness that I have to choose. I have to choose to wake up early enough to enjoy that cup of coffee before starting my day. I have to choose to not rush. I have to choose.

And on days where that isn’t a choice, I find a different type of happiness. A happiness where my job means I get to make a difference. Or a happiness where my hours after work make up for the hours I sat at a desk all day long.

After work, I have to choose to workout so that my body is exhausted enough to sleep. I have to choose to play with my puppies (this isn’t that hard) so they are tired enough to sleep. I have to choose to eat foods that don’t upset my stomach. I have to choose to talk to my fiancé when our schedules align. I have to choose to open up to the people I trust. I have to choose happiness.

When we choose happiness, I think we’ll start to see other things in our lives take care of themselves. We’ll find it’s easier to not over eat or to eat better things, when we’re really enjoying our food. We’ll find it easier to love our significant other when we aren’t distracted by expectations or past mistakes. We’ll find it easier to enjoy our jobs when we focus on the positive, rather than the negative. We’ll find it easier to enjoy all these things when we take control.

I’m preaching to the choir. Too many times, I give other people control because I don’t think I’m capable of that control. I think that I’m too young and inexperienced to expect certain things, but that’s not true. We can expect a certain type of happiness from our friends, relationships and jobs. We just have to remember that we deserve happiness. We just have to remember that our happiness – for the most part – is our choice.

And we really should choose happiness.