Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fortitude To Be Happy!

I don't often use my blog as a forum to climb on my soap box; this blog is meant to update people on how I'm progressing towards my goal of competing in the Iron Man competition's pinnacle of venues: Kona. However, today I want to briefly touch on something that I'm learning. It's what I call the fortitude to be happy.

From an early age, I have been athletic. If you were to ask my mother, she'd agree. I've always been active in sports; it makes me happy. I'd say it's hard-wired in to my DNA. I can feel it my gut. As intuitive as this may seem, this simple concept wasn't vividly clear to me until about a year ago. I think I might have known this when I was younger, but somehow along the way between then and now, I lost that knowledge.

How did I forget that I love to be athletic? How did I forget what makes me happy?

I think there's a lot of reasons. In my life (and I think in most every one's lives) there is never a shortage of people telling you what you should or should not be doing. I have family members, co-workers, college professors, church leaders, friends, and, even people I care very little about telling me what I should or should not be doing with my life.

Even worse, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to pursuing what makes me happy. I'm am greedy sometimes and am willing to forgo what makes me happy for a promotion or a salary increase. I am rash sometimes and satiate an urge at the price of happiness. This is the greatest detractor: human nature.

This is where having the fortitude to be happy comes in to play. When we know what makes us happy...what makes us content, it is incumbent on us to have the fortitude and resolve to continue to live in such a manner--to do that thing regardless of whether someone or something disapproves. There are numerous people who are miserable and have forsaken that which makes them happy--or have never found it. They will beguile you away or distract you. Misery loves company!

I have seen this at work. Some people will push you to work long hours with vague promises of promotion. The pressure can be overwhelming. If you resist, you're viewed with disdain; you're not "in the trenches". In many cases, the leaders pushing such behavior are miserable themselves--they've sold their soul for filthy lucre. Again, misery loves company!

I have seen this at church. There is never a shortage of people at church telling you what will make you happy--and what won't.

Most recently, I have seen this with family and friends. Now, I need to note something important: never would I say my wife or my children are distractions from what makes me happy. It's quite the opposite. How could I be happy if my wife or any of my children were not? My happiness is consolidated in my family's happiness. Right now, my wife is happier than she's been in a long time: she has great friends, she spends lot's of time doing fun activities with the kids. She's engaged in the things that makes her happy. As a husband, this makes me happy. Conversely, My wife said being at my Iron Man was one of the best things she's been a part of because she knew the sacrifice and commitment it took to cross the finish line--from both of us and the children. Additionally, She said that my son keeps drawing pictures of me in the Iron Man, and it has had a lasting impression on him.

What does this all mean? It means having the strength to do what makes you happy regardless of the ridicule, second-guessing, and disapproval. It means not compromising just because a family member or boss doesn't understand or is down-right unsupportive. It means pushing on even though there may be negative fall out with personal relationships or career progress. There may even be humiliation. But, ultimately, you'll will have to prop yourself up and run in the direction that your heart directs, otherwise, you'll be on the ground with all the other hapless, miserable bodies grasping at anything!

In conclusion, I'd like to post one of my favorite poems:

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never -"

"You lie," he cried,
And ran on.

-Stephen Crane

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