The other day, I went out jogging in my neighborhood. That day, it was very cloudy and I was sure it would rain, but surprisingly it didn’t. Even if it did rain, I didn’t mind, because it had been excruciatingly hot the past few weeks, so jogging outside was totally out of the question, and I had missed running outside! (People die from heat exhaustion! I’m not taking any chances with this desert heat!) But anyway, as I was running my usual route, I had realized how much I missed running outside! Like, I had been subconsciously craving this time and did not even realize it.
The more I began thinking about it, I began to realize that I kind of need running in my life. And not just, run on the treadmill or run in the gym, but I NEED to run outside. Feel the wind whip across my face as I’m inhaling and exhaling. Take in nature. And it’s crazy, because I’ve always realized that running makes me happy. (I even blogged about it two years ago HERE). But even after reading that post from two years ago, I realize that running does more than make me happy. It cleanses my soul. It more than makes me happy. It’s my happy place. It’s my alone time. It’s my time to clear my head and enjoy my thoughts.
The crazier thing about all of this, is that this post is not about jogging at all really. It’s about realizing what brings you peace and happiness in your life. I am almost certain that many people look at me, and see that I’m happy, well all the time it seems. Is this true? Well, mostly. Yes, I am generally happy. Have I been through a lot? Of course! Who hasn’t!? Have I experienced sad, devastating times? Absolutely. But as I reflect on how I always manage to stay grounded, and choose a different perspective on bad situations, I have to attribute prayer, and running to help me cope. I turn my music on, grab my headphones, and take off.
I think that I have been extremely blessed and lucky in my life. No question. I thank God for that almost daily. However, no one gets through life unscathed. Long before I ever started blogging, I have experienced many ups and downs. Relationship woes, friendships ending, financial stress, family drama, betrayal…any of this sound familiar to you? Well duh! That’s because if you’re living and breathing, you’re probably bound to experience ALL of this at some point in your life.
As I look back on my adult years, and the ups and downs that I’ve encountered, the thing that remained pretty consistent no matter where I was in my life, was that I jogged outside. No matter the city, (Or country for that matter: I jogged in my neighborhood and in the park when I lived in Italy for a year), I always ventured outside and jogged around my neighborhood and beyond. And although jogging is good for physical health, I now realize that it did even more for my mental health. I’m able to clear my mind when jogging. Whatever is going on in my real life, jogging allows me to escape that for a moment. I learned to be more appreciative of life in whatever present moment that I was in. To enjoy the simplistic beauty in nature around me. Nothing else did this but jogging for me. Whenever I finished jogging, life just seemed better in general. Even though bullsh*t might have still been going on, I just felt better somehow overall.
I say all that to say this: if you are not happy right now today, in your life, you need to figure out how you can get to a happy place, or be well on your way there. Many of us, especially us women, attach our happiness to men. “If I get a boyfriend or a husband, then I’ll surely be happy!”. Umm, no, not exactly. Of course, men can certainly add to your happiness, but you, and your happiness, depends solely on YOU.
I’m sure you’re thinking: “If this married with 2 kids b*tch don’t shut up trying to tell me how to be happy!” Well guess what, before I was married with 2 kids, I still found a way to be happy! As a single woman. With a boyfriend. Without one. Either way, I was going to make the most of whatever situation I was in.
Let’s rewind a bit. The year was 2010. I was living in Midtown Memphis, sharing a huge, old house with both my sisters. (God we made some awesome memories in that house!). I was single. Chris and I had broken up at the end of 2009. (This was our first and only breakup in our almost decade long relationship. It lasted for months and months though.) During this time, I was not happy at first. Obviously. Breakups feel like death. But soon, I realized that life is meant to be lived! And I had to continue experiencing life and all the good it had to offer. So I signed up for a race in the annual 4 Mile run at the Cooper Young Festival in Memphis. (It’s such a great event! Good food, music, events, the race, etc…) I parked, went to the race, and picked up my t-shirt and other freebies that they hand you when you register, took them back to my truck, and then prepared for the race. By myself. Solo. Alone. No one to cheer me on. No one to wait for me at the finish line. Just me. Oh! And the race began at like 6:30pm, so the runners could enjoy the sunset while we ran. Guess what’s crazy? I was fine with that!! The race was through a neighborhood, so many residents volunteered to help the thousands of runners as we pass their houses by handing out water, they offered cheers and words of encouragement, and some even sprinkled the runners with water hoses or sprinkler systems to cool them off as we ran past. (Humidity in the late summer in Memphis is no joke! So the water was welcomed!) As I crossed the finish line at the end of the race, I cannot even begin to describe to you the feeling I felt. It was nighttime, there were thousands of people around celebrating and preparing to eat and drink. And there I was, smiling from ear to ear and feeling incredibly…happy. Accomplished. Complete. Proud. Still fresh off of runner’s high, I trotted to my truck feeling like I could literally take on the world. It was in that moment that I learned that there is freedom and adventure in doing things solo. And that “gasp”, being in a relationship isn’t the end all, be all to being truly happy. You have to make yourself happy first.
Moments like that are clutch for me. That is why I don’t mind going to the movies alone. (Pouring some wine in an empty water bottle is a necessity when I go to the movies solo though. Just in case I get thirsty.) It makes me happy. Solitude makes me happy just as much as being around people does. I am able to be happy almost daily because I inherently choose to be happy. No matter were I am. No matter who I’m with. We only get this one life people. We have to be happy, today. Right now where we’re at. You deserve to be happy. And guess what? You’re in complete control of that. 🙂