This is my 4th post about Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.” (Oops, 5th if you count the first one I wrote announcing I was going to write about her book.)
I am writing about her book because:
- It is good.
- Whenever I think about it, I feel happier.
- The more we talk, read or write about something the more likely we are to respond to it.
My happy feelings about the book come not just from what Gretchen wrote, but from what she did: Gretchen created the life she wanted.
She did it by identifying her desire to change; believing she could; coming up with a plan and taking action.
Sad, but true, change takes all those things: desire, belief, planning and action. The good news is Gretchen’s book skillfully outlines her approach to all of them.
Desire, belief, planning and action; desire, belief, planning and action (picture yourself skipping down the yellow-brick road sing-saying it); desire, belief, planning and action; desire, belief, planning and action; desire, belief, planning and action . . .
Well, if we say it that way I guess it isn’t so bad. Actually anything we say while walking or skipping sounds less intimidating. Our brains are wired to work especially well when we are moving.
Gretchen notes in her book that our bodies need a minimum of 10,000 steps a day for good health. She also notes that this is the number we need to keep from gaining weight, and that science has shown that “exercise-induced brain chemicals help people think clearly.”
Other studies show that seniors, who walk at least 1.5 miles a week have the least thinking impairment. And, that walking may reduce dementia. (I know dementia is a long way off for all of us, but good to know.)
My favorite walking and pondering scenes in books and movies always include a proper 1800/early 1900’s gentlemen walking along a wooded path with his hands clasped behind his back. Very scholarly. I think Nietzsche might agree; Gretchen notes he wrote “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” (He probably came up with that idea on a path in the woods.)
I am happiest along a wooded trail myself. (I never do the hands clasped behind the back thing, I know this is sexist, but I think walking that way looks better on men in tail-like grey suits with little black collars.) But my morning walks on steamy Florida sidewalks in my plain old black bike shorts have provided me with lots of wonderfully philosophical and insightful moments, such as this one: movement is good for me.
I have learned that if I want to change my mind or my mood, moving my body helps.
Walking, skipping, running, hopping, dancing, bending, twisting, turning, and stretching make me feel better.
Just getting out of your chair right now can change your perspective, and maybe your life – go ahead, try it. I did and it felt great. Change can start that simply: moving increases our thinking-oriented brain chemicals, which changes our brains and perhaps our minds.
And, remember, even something as simple as a smile is movement in the right direction.