The Fit Mentality
Take a moment, right now, and assess your well-being. Maybe you feel fine, and that’s great. Or maybe you only think you feel fine but in-fact you have the potential to feel 20%, 40%, maybe 90% better. Wouldn’t you like to experience feeling like your best self? Living as your best self?
Being in-shape, fit and strong is obviously good for your physical health. You’ll be more resistant to injury and disease, you’ll have a larger capacity for work and leisure, and generally you’ll be happier with your appearance.
Sorry, there’s no room for disagreement here. That would be to deny the truth.
If you feel fit, in-shape and strong, you will undoubtedly carry with you an increased self-confidence and likely with that will come more happiness. It is my assertion that seeking genuine, lasting happiness is essentially what we’re all trying to do here on Earth. I would also contend that happiness, and for that matter all states of mind, depression included, can be a self perpetuating force. More happiness equates to more happiness and vice versa and it all starts upstairs in the old noggin. Or perhaps it all starts downstairs in the workings and condition of our physical bodies, our foundations, our God-gifted vehicles for life on Earth.
One of the great attributes of human beings is our adaptability. We are able to survive and thrive in many different situations while facing any number of oppositions. Included in this is our profound ability to adapt to our “shapes,” however inconvenient, unappealing or down-right awful they become. Granted we have devised a world around us to assist (and unfortunately promote) less than ideal human shapes. But none-the-less, every day I see individuals who have adapted themselves to accommodate physical deficiencies. This adaptation is not only physical, but mental as well. We are all subject to live and feel whatever our present reality is, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine feeling any other way. Take the individual suffering from chronic pain. They have likely lost the sensation of, and can’t even imagine, life without the pain that they endure daily. The person struggling with obesity has little awareness of what it might feel like to be lean, fit and capable, to the point that it has become their self-accepted normal state of being. Likely, being “physically unhappy” affects their attitude and optimism more than they’ll ever realize, and potentially limits their life’s possibilities.
The truth is that physical and mental health are indelibly intertwined. The state of each has tremendous influence on the condition of the other. The difference I find is the ease with which we can affect our physical state as compared to the difficulty of changing our mental state without outside influence. In my experience it is nearly impossible to “think” oneself into a happier state. Surely some dedicated proprietors of meditation would disagree, and that’s fine. But I have found that most individuals, without any prior training, can enter into and endure a challenging physical experience (i.e. workout), and discover a tremendous and lasting mental uplift as a result.
There are a multitude of benefits resulting from physical exertion. Acutely, you will feel proud and triumphant having completed a task that tested your limitations and ability. Beyond that is the training effect of adaptation; you will be stronger and more capable to perform the same challenge the next time you attempt it. And if you string together a number of these challenging physical experiences you will find yourself improving your mental state over and over and more frequently and this will ideally yield even more improvements to happiness by affecting your life outside of the workouts themselves.
In conclusion; it is my belief that for most individuals, a large percentage of their mental well-being is predicated on the state of their physical body, but they have lost touch with or have never known the feeling of being in any condition other than they’re current one, and therefore are unmotivated to change. The old adage: “You don’t know what you don’t know,” comes to mind. But if these individuals could experience life in a body (and mind) with less excess weight and greater strength and ability, and they could taste the profound mental health that could be associated with this type of existence, maybe that spark would ignite the fire for physical and mental modification. Take the first step, from wherever you are, to improve your physical state of being, and I promise you’ll find an immediate sense of gratification and dignity having done something to better yourself. Now take the next few steps and dont stop, ever, and you’ll be well on your way to a happier life.
Stay Well, Josh