Before diving into the meat of this post, a brief yet important note about the CROSSFIT NORTH EAST REGIONALS COMPETITION, which will be held this coming Friday through Sunday, May 17-19, at Reebok Headquarters, 1895 JW Foster Blvd. in Canton, MA. Please come out to support our regional CrossFitters and get crazy motivation for your training this year!!! If you want to see elite CrossFitters crushing WODs, this is the place to be. Click here for a full list of events the athletes will be tackling over the course of the three day competition, and buy your ticket(s) or three-day pass(es) here. Our DTX location will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, so put all the energy you would have put into your weekend WODs into yelling your faces off and getting stoked about the sport of fitness!!
Now, about Pollyanna. I’ve been thinking a lot in the last day or so about the various responses we can take when something happens to us that we don’t like. Essentially, there are three options. First, you can wallow in the suck, so to speak – just sit in your unhappiness, roll around in it, and enjoy feeling sorry for yourself. We’ve all been there; sometimes it feels better (certainly easier, and sometimes more satisfying) to stay miserable than to step outside your current state of mind and conjure up a different train of thought. The second option is to try to change the situation. Thirdly, you can choose to find something positive in the situation, even if it’s not one you would have initially chosen for yourself.
Let’s say my T-spine mobility sucks, so it’s impossible for me to overhead squat properly. Following the first option, I can complain incessantly that I have bad mobility, do nothing about it, and continue to use it as an excuse to avoid getting better at overhead squatting. Following the second option, I can ask coaches about things I can do to improve my mobility, then work my ass off to make that happen.
Of course, we all know that just because you sincerely want to make a situation better and try really hard to make that happen does not necessarily mean the situation will actually improve. Many things in life do not so readily respond to treatment as do mobility issues in relation to overhead squatting. However, all is not lost. We still have option three: to find something good about the situation we have been dealt.
Why wallow in unhappiness when it is so much easier and more pleasant to look on the bright side? Admittedly, I have been accused many times of being an incorrigible Pollyanna. The accusation is pretty much spot on. While I am not 100% happy 100% of the time, you can bet your ass that if there is any positive spin that can be put on a negative situation, I will very quickly dig it out of whatever hole it’s hiding in and focus on that instead of on the negatives. Some situations take more effort than others, but I would rather do the extra work and end up happier. Why live life any other way? Some people say this is delusional thinking: if a situation is bad, why pretend it is good? Unsurprisingly, I think that’s a little too pessimistic. Few things are purely good, just as few things are purely bad. Maybe you have gotten a lot better at running, but your pull ups are still very weak. If we program a WOD that is 4RFT of a 400m run and 30 pull ups, you might crush the runs but not do well overall because the pull ups will be quite difficult. You can either focus on the fact that your pull ups are bad, feel discouraged, and let it ruin your day; or you can acknowledge that your pull ups still need more work, but be stoked because your runs were so much faster than they would have been a few months ago, and isn’t improvement awesome?! Same facts, but you can choose to highlight one over the other. You can still honestly acknowledge that a situation is not ideal without letting it get you down; and just because a situation is less than ideal does not mean there is absolutely nothing positive you can take from it.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies”? I think the same thing is true for chronic frustration or habitual annoyance at petty things (and important things!). The primary person who gets hurt if I’m a chronic grump is me. All the little things add up. With the notable exception of chemical imbalances, for the most part on a daily basis we can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be sad. The enjoyment we get out of life is more a function of our attitude toward it than of the specific daily events that happen to us. None of our lives are perfect. But whatever your situation, maybe you have an opportunity to find joy in unexpected places. Maybe you’re getting great practice at perseverance, or patience, or at finding compassion for people you don’t necessarily think deserve it. Or maybe there really is nothing redeeming about your bad situation, but hey, maybe you have great friends, or you know how to read so you’re able to get into a really good book that helps you escape for a few hours, or at least you have a place you can come after work to slam bars and get out some frustration.
Don’t wait for big, momentous events to make you happy. Choose to find happiness in everyday things, even in circumstances where it seems hard to find. Emotional well-being is just as much in our control as is physical well-being and fitness. Don’t shortchange yourself by allowing the vagaries of life to determine your mood. Seize happiness, kick gloominess to the curb, and embrace your inner Pollyanna. And come cheer with us at Regionals next weekend!
-Coach Monica O.