The Opposite Side of Success

Approximately 2.5 years ago, I decided “hey, it’s really time to get in shape, Jessica,” and paid the impressive fee of $2.99 to download Couch to 5K on my smart phone.  Armed with my phone, earbuds and Pandora, I set out on a 9-week journey to go from schlubby Couch Potato to impressive 5K-runner.  I fantasized frequently about all the 5Ks I would enter and all the fun I would have being fit and active.

This week, that journey came to an end, after I ran my final timed run on the app and hit my goal of being able to run a 5K.  Yes, it took me a little longer than 9 weeks (130 weeks to be exact), but, hey…better late than never.  Until my very last run, I imagined that there would be this victorious music swelling in my ears as I ran that final minute of my final timed run, and that, like watching the final credits of a movie scrolling, I would know that I had reached my goal and my struggle to get in shape would finally come to a resolution.

Instead, I felt disappointment.  The urge to work towards something had been taken away and it was frustrating to know that, compared to so many other people, being able to run a 5K wasn’t actually that impressive.  I started frantically searching for a new, more extreme fitness goal – one that would take many more hours than I have already committed to exercise to be able to obtain.  I began mentally rearranging and cramming my schedule with earlier mornings and later nights to accommodate my new regimen, which led to stress and frustration.

Around this same time, I was doing some research for a presentation and ran across this statement: “If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there.”  After some quick checking, I learned that Shawn Achor, a Harvard-educated Happiness Researcher (could there be a more awesome job?!), spoke these words during a TedX Conference in Bloomington, Indiana.  His 12-minute talk broke down the science behind the brain’s ability to train itself to weave happiness into itself intrinsically, rather than rely on external situations and outcomes for validation.

The science of this Ted Talk is certainly riveting, but the benefits Shawn lists of re-thinking what happiness means are downright astounding.  I absolutely cannot do Shawn – or his facts – justice by recapping his speech, so I hope you take 12 minutes to watch his video below.  Just be ready to have your mind blown.





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