Sunday, February 26, 2017

Being in it together

I will repeat: running it's tough and it hurts. And yet I keep doing it and this is the day I've completed my 2nd half-marathon. Now, not only is running tough on the body, it is also tough on the mind - and by tough the mind, in the case of today's run - Meia Maratona de Cascais - means .. yeah, positively tough!!

It seems that our will to run is innate and humans evolved as we did because of our ability to run (as Christopher McDougall's defends in his bestselling book "Born to Run" a theory devised by Harvard scientists). Beyond the physical aspects, plenty has also been said and written about running being a sort of road to self-awareness and reliance, allowing a person to push itself to extremes and learn about its own physical and mental limitations. This is also a part of our evolution as we learn more on what are, how to accept and put in perspective limitations. 

When you are cognizant of your limitations you can use them to move forward in life - this means the more conscious we become of what limits us, the more limitless becomes our life.

Now, me and my good friends Rita, Sara and Paula have taken a compromise and made a pledge together on something that, even being a limitation for all (except for Sara that meanwhile has run a Marathon!!)  would allow us to share a breakthrough experience; to run an half-marathon together.  And yes, TODAY three of us crossed the end line together, new road that reinforces our bonding. This has got me thinking about the commitments we make, and how we keep or break them. 

When we promise something only to ourselves, it's easy to back out.
But when we make a commitment to other persons (and specially when those persons mean a lot to us) that is something that raises the stakes! We become invested in accomplishing the promise made together,  supporting each other in whatever struggles each one experiences to keep the promise, creating bonds, caring and and encouraging who ever is involved in reaching the common goal. 

So, now running is more; is about surpassing challenges that are creating a sense of connectedness, a sense of being in it together. Is about feeding a "place in my mind" of deeper level of self-awareness that supplies ways to work with limitations and even so, allowing freedom of mind that serves as key to self-motivation. 

Thank you Rita and Sara! 
Paula; we'll see you on March!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What is happiness anyway?

As humans, we typically strive for happiness, most of the times a condition that we perceive to be the opposite of suffering - meaning, if suffering is, by definition, the state of undergoing pain, distress or hardship then you do not want to be in that state but instead want be to in the state of being happy.

One may tend to discussed then if these can be experienced as two as separate states of being - meaning, are we really only able to feel happy when we do not suffer? and conversely, when one is suffering is it then not possible to feel or be happy?

From my own experience, happiness isn’t a thing  - instead, happiness is the result of the combination of feelings of the things we live and experience. You are not happy - you feel (or not) happy.

For the ones that may agree with this perspective, this means that the pursuit of meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life as a long lasting challenge may not make that much sense... Sustaining this perspective is the body of 
research that suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis.

Seems also that our general happiness is more genetically determined than anything else  but the good news is that with consistent effort this can be offset. So, while it could take years of persistence to deeply transform life (if even possible), there are some scientifically-tested strategies that have been shown to provide an immediate happiness boost. And even if such activities provide a modest increase in happiness, when practiced consistently they become happiness habits, energizing people to live their dreams and passions. 

In summary, do try to remember that under normal conditions, daily life is filled with simple things (and miracles); from the wonderful people that surrounds us to computer games or a peaceful walk in the park. Somehow we tend to take all for granted after a while, putting in front of us the challenge of thinking about a better way to appreciate and savor the good things of life. If that is the case, try this framework at Happify were you can practice, right now, and get a shot of healthy psychological nutrients.