Monday, April 23, 2007

Taking a stand for happiness

I ran a report of my running history over the past several months yesterday. I was quite happy to see that my total ascent and descent has more than doubled since moving into Bamenda. It sure feels like that is so!

Had a great 13 mile run yesterday, although my left knee is now bothering me, particularly going downstairs, which is a bit of a bother since I live on the 4th floor of my building. I used the camelback that I got for my birthday (just received last week) and it worked well. I was afraid it might bother me, but I knew it would work better than one of those water bottle belts. And it was fine. I did get a bit of an abrasion under my arm, but I think that just means I need to wear a short-sleeve shirt rather than a tank top.

Saturday I took most of the day to do a mini meditation retreat. The strongest "message" I received was that I need to adjust my attitude--and I can. I watched my mind being automatically drawn to looking for "what is wrong here" with the effect of making me feel bad. But I realized that I can simply take a stand, that is, decide and tell myself, that I am happy. Then train my mind on all the things that make me happy. And do more of the things that make me happy, that feel good, that feel right and do less of the things that feel bad. And one of the things that feels bad is thinking negative thoughts. Even though it is familiar and easy and "natural" and automatic. It doesn't feel good. I feel much better when I am moving things forward, when I am being with people, when I can see the beauty, joy and/or humour in life.

Part of me thinks that it doesn't make sense to "take a stand for happiness," but I know this is exactly what I need to do right now. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with my life. Of course, I would like to have more close friends and I would like to have a life partner again. I would like to have more companionship here and I want to be fully engaged in meaningful work. Now I could either concentrate on how I, or my circumstances, are falling short of what I would like. Or I could concentrate on creating what I want and need, to the best of my ability and accepting the reality of my situation. When I contemplate the former, I feel anxious, angry, victimized and stuck. When I contemplate the latter, I feel relaxed, engaged, enthusiastic and energized. So the right choice seems obvious!

Even though my knee hurts, I am very happy that I did a good long run yesterday. One thing I noticed is that I felt most at ease, most relaxed and comfortable, after about 5 or 6 miles. Maybe it was because I was "on the way home" at that point, but I've noticed this before--at a point where my mind would expect to be feeling tired, I am in fact feeling very much "in the flow." This sort of experience makes me wonder whether I might feel really good training for a marathon. I have been thinking about running a marathon for a couple of years, but there aren't many that I can get to easily from here. I'd love to run the Mt. Meru Marathon in Arusha, Tanzania which is at the end of July or so, but a flight to Tanzania costs about $800!

Well, I am sure that when the time is right, the marathon and the means will show up.

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