Monday, May 9, 2016

Choosing Joy

I mentioned before that I've decided to start running.  The reasons are many, but probably my biggest reason is that I have enough that's wrong with me, so I want to actively work on fixing what I can.  If I'm generally in shape, I can tell better when I'm sick (many of my symptoms can be written off as symptoms of just being out of shape).  So I'm starting to run*.  Running because it's good cardio and I can do it without having to go somewhere to work out.

Today I super did not want to run.  I'm on day 2 of my the first week of my training plan... for the 3rd time**.  I was sore and stiff this morning.  It's a bad nose day.  I haven't looked at Tumblr all weekend, so there's a lot of internet out there to distract me.

I made myself get out of the house and go anyway.  I reallly really want this to be a habit, a routine, something I just do without thinking about it, and the only way to make that happen is to just get out and do it.

About 3 minutes in to my warm-up walk, I realized that I had a running negative commentary going in my head: "I don't want to do this.  The sun is too bright. My legs hurt.  I'm tired. I really don't want to be doing this..." You get the picture.  That sort of self-talk is definitely not helpful, so I made up my mind to stop it.

Now, you might have noticed, as soon as you decide to not think about something, that something is all you can think about.  So that's not what I did.  I decided to shift my focus externally and actively look for good things and comment on them in my head.  The first thing I found was a lilac bush in full bloom; it was beautiful.  Then I noticed how green all the plants are.  And, you know what, it is actually a really beautiful, clear, sunny morning. Then Queen started playing through my headphones and suddenly I was running with a smile on my face and really enjoying myself.

I'm telling you this story because I think it really exemplifies the way I try to go through all my days.  Some days it's really hard to find things good things.  And some days looking for good things takes a lot of energy that I just don't have.  But I usually find if I just start, even with the tiniest thing (for example, when I was stuck at home with 0 energy feeling completely awful, I got a lot of quality cat time, so I would focus on the sweet Jinx kitten), the good things start to snowball and overwhelm the negative thoughts.

It works for everything.  If I've had a really super bad day, and I make a point of saying "ok, all those bad things happened, but what about the good things that happened too?"  And I actively go through my day and look for good things.  I've never had a day in my life when I didn't have at least one really good thing happen.

So, anyway, I may have been dealt a kind of shitty hand in life.  But everyone gets their share of bad stuff.  I have a lot of really wonderful things in my life too.  I choose to look for joy, and be joyful.  I may sound like a Halmark card, but it really works to make everything easier.  I can't control the bad things that life hands me, but I can control what I dwell on.

Here's a kitten for you to look at if you need a little joy in your day:

*when I say run at this point, I really mean mostly walk.  I'm following a super gentle couch-to-5k thing, so right now I'm running about 3 minutes each time, and walking 20+

** I started the program, and decided to do the first week twice, because it was hard, and I'm REALLY out of shape.  Halfway through the second time, I injured my knee - it was a baby injury, but I took several weeks off running (still did exercise... a lot of strength training and playing Just Dance) to fully let it heal because injury=bad.  Now I have new running shoes, and I'm starting over again.  I'm going to be psyched when I finally move on to week 2.

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