July 19. “Happiness is not a when or a where; it can be a here and a now. But until you are happy with who you are you will never be happy because of what you have.” (Zig Ziglar)
Sometimes I think that unhappiness is the most rampant and destructive epidemic in this country, and it might also be the most curable. Every day I read or hear stories in the news about people who do really awful things, and when I dig into the story I see that there is some underlying unhappiness for them. They are unhappy with their job (or lack of it), their spouse, a friend, some company that has wronged them, and so on. All too often this unhappiness leads them to do things that just aren’t rational.
When I started my blog about my journey to better health, I did so because I didn’t like certain aspects of myself. I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror, and I didn’t like the numbers about that person that my doctor put on paper. I was headed for early demise, and I liked that even less. At the time I would not have admitted to being an unhappy person, but I would have been wrong.
I was an unhappy person. The weight I had, and the unhealthiness of my life were figuratively and literally weighing me down. In these past 20 weeks I have been shedding the pounds while increasing my exercise. Along the way I have started becoming a more happy person. But the weight loss is only part of the story of that resurgence of happiness.
I have become a happier person because I have learned to love me again. It isn’t just about the change to my appearance. Yes, I am thinner, and more toned. I can do things now that I couldn’t in February. But the fact is that I am still obese, I still am not in great physical condition, and I have a long way to go on the journey. Objectively, and based only on all that, there wouldn’t be much reason to be happy. Back in 2000, I started my weight loss journey at 290 pounds. Today I am at 282, so compared to that starting point, I am not down by very much.
The difference is that I have learned to love myself again. I accept that I am who I am. I have flaws, and I am a constant work in progress, but I do not let those flaws get in the way of loving who I am.
Think of it this way. Think about when a boy falls in love with a girl (insert whatever genders for either side you like to make this analogy work for you). When I fell in love with my wife, all those years ago, I only focused on the things I loved about her. I saw her warmth, her kindness, her outer and inner beauty, and so on. Did she have flaws? Of course she did, because she is human and we all do. But I saw past those flaws and saw only what made me love her. When we fall in love with someone it isn’t that we don’t see their flaws, it is that we choose to look past them to see the person we love.
If we can look past the faults of others and fall in love with them, why then can we not do the same for ourselves? The answer, of course, is that we CAN, and we SHOULD.
When I talk about being in love with myself, I don’t mean it in a narcissistic way. I am not talking about vanity, or putting myself in front of the needs of others. Nor am I talking about obsessively thinking of my appearance or the image I portray to the world. I am talking about a strong, healthy, respectful love for me. I am talking about looking in the mirror, both literally and figuratively, and loving the person looking back. That, as much as anything, is why I am happier today than I was 20 weeks ago.
What is keeping you from loving yourself more fully?