Why Be Miserable to Be Happy?

A couple of weeks ago, I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Motivate Summit. It was the third of its kind and was the first time it had “come home” to Oakland.

One of the phrases that really stuck out to me was “Why be miserable to be happy?”

This was said in reference to clients who like to go on extreme challenges and restrictive programs in an attempt to create the person they want to be. Or at least the person they think they should be.

This applies to many aspects of our lives, many aspects of our efforts to make a “better, happier version of ourselves.”

So many people I know will go on theses pretty extreme diets: Whole30, vegan, detoxes, cleanses, fasts. They’re willing to put themselves through these weeks and sometimes even months of misery in a belief that they will come out the other end of the tunnel a shiny, new and happy person.

Thing is, that rarely, if ever, happens.

So people put themselves through the ringer for an outcome that never materialized. Then they think, or are even told, that they didn’t follow the plan hard enough. You didn’t Paleo hard enough. You didn’t cut out carbs low enough. You didn’t detox long enough. You didn’t intermittent fast hard enough.

So now you beat yourself up for being a failure. For falling off some wagon. And in the Matrix-like words of Georgie Fear, “There is no wagon.”

I want people to stop feeling like they have to martyr themselves to reach some obscure goal of “something better than where I am now.” That doesn’t mean to not take steps towards a goal or to not have a goal. Instead, be comfortable with the idea of a process rather than a hard ending.

If we spent as much time reflecting on all the wonderful things we have in our life as we do contemplating all the things we’d like to change, maybe fewer of us would be gung-ho about crash diets and negative self talk. Maybe more of us would be more self compassionate. You might be surprised at how fast positive change can happen if you approach it from a place of self appreciation.

Start small. Over dinner each day, take ten minutes and reflect on the good parts of that day. Even better, tell someone about those good things, positivity is infectious.

Start today.

Watch as your mood changes, see how you notice the good your body and mind can do for yourself. Watch as over time, you start to see how treating yourself well is a reward rather than a punishment.