I had a bit of a breakthrough this week (on the first writing of that sentence I wrote “breakdown”, which would have a been a rather different blog post!). As a result, I feel a lot more relaxed, a lot happier, and a lot more secure in who I am and what I’m all about. Quite a breakthrough, I think you’ll agree, and I thought I’d write it down so I don’t forget it.
It started with this picture I saw on Facebook:
It resonates with me, this quote. I know I’m guilty of all of those things. I don’t always enjoy the present because I’m either driving myself too hard or getting freaked out about the future. But I believe the Dalai Lama when he says the purpose of our lives is to be happy. It’s long puzzled me why we struggle so hard to find that happiness and a big part of my life has always been trying to get the right circumstances to be secure and happy. Yet I know – categorically know - that being happy isn’t dependent on my circumstances. It isn’t at all. It’s dependent on my attitude.
Let’s just remind ourselves that I have always wanted to be a personal trainer. I’ve said that a million times. And that’s what I do, finally, having spent several years as a bod working in a council, doing laudable things but being generally unhappy with my lot. Yet over the last few months, I’ve found myself getting hung up on the circumstances and considering, again, whether I’m doing what I really want to be doing. I do that a lot. It’s quite exhausting. And in a “life being reflected back through art” kind of way, I had just realised how pointless and tiring it was when in Marley and Me, which Emma and I were watching, the wife says to her husband when he’s bemoaning his career shift from columnist to reporter, a move he’d wanted to make for ages:
“It’s just – it’s exhausting sometimes, John.
You always wanting something that you don’t have.”
And I thought, yes, it is actually. Exhausting. I know I’ve used that word three times in as many paragraphs, but it’s the only word that conveys the sheer weariness that comes with an over analytical brain that just won’t let it lie.
Yes, being a PT has its annoying and/or disheartening qualities. Getting up early and getting home late. An inherent lack of financial security. Being physically knackering. But when I wrote down – on paper, where they cannot be distorted by fear of failure or future – the great things about my job and my lifestyle, they are many and not in any way to be sniffed at. Here they are.
I work with many, many lovely people. I actually make a real difference to people’s lives. I laugh often during the course of a day and so do my clients. I don’t have to sit behind a desk but instead get to play silly games with balls and viprs and crash mats. I have so far won 2 staff of the month awards, been voted hardest worker by my colleagues, been to the Star awards and received loads of thank you cards. I met my future wife in my gym. I have found many new friends in my clients. I sometimes get to come home in the middle of the day for a few hours. I find fitness fascinating, still. I earn more than I’ve ever earned (on a side note, is “earnt” a word?). I am the top trainer in my club, have been for months and have no intention of letting that slip. Even though getting out of bed in the morning is hard, that’s because I don’t like getting up, not because I don’t like my work – I do like my work and quite often I adore it. Virgin is a very funky employer who I’m proud to work for. Some days I get to go to work in fancy dress. There’s all sorts of scope to develop myself, my skills and my business as a PT. I’m pretty damn good at what I do, and still have loads of room and time to improve.
That’s not even an exhaustive list. So my breakthrough was this.
That for the first time in my life I’m actually happy with where I am and what I do. I’m proud of it and excited about the future and ready to be 100% committed.
That in order to preserve that awareness, I need to shut my brain up when it tries to work out whether I could be happier somewhere else. You know how when you’re in an area where there’s no phone signal, how your phone will search and search till the battery’s worn out? That’s what my brain does when it detects any level of discontent. All I need to do is switch off, like you would your phone. Funny how everything brings me back to meditation. A peaceful mind is a wonderful thing.
That, actually, what seems like a valid reason not to do something is often – for me at least – a fear of failing to do something well. Like I say, I’m doing pretty well at my gym and for the first time in my life I honestly like what I do. All my thoughts of changing jobs were a self protection mechanism – get out before anything goes wrong, even though there’s only evidence to suggest it will continue to improve, nothing to suggest it will get worse! In my high school philosophy course, I always remember being taught that with the greatest reward comes the greatest risk. I guess when you truly love something, the idea of losing it is hard to bear and causes all sorts of scary to be let loose in your mind.
So to bring us back full circle, being happy is always about your attitude. Because even if you have put in place all the right circumstances, you can still look at them askance and find them lacking. But that said I must admit – the right circumstances do help.
So there you go. I’m sticking around. I could be hyper-cheesy here and post a link to a Yazz song from the 80s. But I’m not going to. I think you’ll probably thank me for that.