It’s Sunday and I’m having that really gray, heavy feeling. You know that feeling. The one where you know you should’ve done something a while ago and now the deadline has crept up to your door. Ok, that’s wrong. You can’t blame a deadline. It doesn’t actually creep. The person responsible for an action in this scenario (the action being willfully avoided) is me. Why put it off? I know I feel better if I just got it done, but it feels like I’m swimming through molasses just to give it a shot. I got a good run in, I DESERVE a nap, right? (Crickets).
I realize that I’m not alone in this. We all procrastinate at one time or another. We put off the things that take hard effort until later and do the things we want to do instead… Things we think will give us happiness. But that happiness is fleeting and not really required. If we’re honest, sometimes it’s easier to put our focus on anything else rather than what we need to do. But here’s the thing they don’t tell you about hard effort (whoever they are).
Hard effort amplifies happiness.
There, I said it. Before you start smirking and dismissing this idea, just think about it for a second. I don’t know what kind of sports you like to do, if any, but if you’re like me, you might like doing long-distance running. At the end of a 50K or 50 mile ultra a lot of times these races will give out beer. Maybe even a burger or two if you’re at a high-end event. How good do you think that beer or that burger is? Probably the best you ever had in your life. Maybe even five lifetimes… If you believe in karma. Why do you think that is? It’s the mere fact that you felt like you earned it. You put out a hard effort. You may even look at the food as a reward. It’s true that sometimes you can just have a good burger, but the happiness doesn’t come from the burger (or brewski) but instead is contingent on how you “feel” about eating it.
Matthieu Ricard, a prominent French Buddhist monk, said, in his Ted Talk, The Habits of Happiness, that our happiness as well as all emotions are temporary. “Pleasure is contingent upon time, upon the object, upon the place, it changes with nature. Beautiful chocolate cake… First serving is delicious. Second one, not so much. Then we feel disgust. It is the nature of things.
Hearing Matthieu say this leads to a very real truth for myself. And that is this: the harder the effort that I put in, the more joy I feel. especially if it’s difficult for me to motivate myself to do it. You don’t have to win. You don’t always have to come in first. But when you know that you’re giving your best, especially when it’s something that you don’t necessarily want to do, happiness follows. Then, in that space of time, the things you eat, the people you connect with, the places you go, and how you celebrate your win will bring you that much more happiness because of the effort that you put in.
I’m feeling better already. It’s not that kind of chocolate cake happiness that Matthieu was talking about. It feels like it’s something more substantial. Truth be told, I was going to take a nap before I did this blog. Would’ve made me feel better. But I know this for sure: I feel a lot better about doing it now and I’m sure I’ll get a lot better rest for knocking this blog out. 😴
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