Inspiring Quotes

I love catchy phrases and sayings.  Random inspiring quotes.  You know, quick hits that take complex and difficult problems and provide sage advice for addressing said problems in 20 words or less.

One of my favorites is a proverb by Lao Tsu:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I also love what I believe is a great quote from a rather forgotten film, The Time Machine starring Jeremy Irons and Guy Pearce:

We all have our time machines, don’t we?  The ones that take us back are memories.  The ones that take us forward are dreams.

And of course, my very own blog here is based on yet another favorite:

The pessimist complains about the wind.  The optimist expects it to change.  And the realist adjusts the sails.

Makes me feel a small breeze of peace when I read these.  Can make a bad day just a smidge better.  I thought about making wall hangings out of some of my favorite “great quotes” and hanging them at work.  But then I smacked my cheek and hung up Calvin and Hobbes strips instead.

But I do tend to turn to these types of sage words when I am feeling particularly flummoxed or frustrated.  Or if I do need a small piece of inspiration.  It always helps to find that even the most complicated of problems can be simplified in such short, short, short, yet still poetic, language.  Makes me understand why Twitter is so popular.

And a frustration that popped up recently – where sage words helped me make a landmark decision – is this issue of my weight.  As my blog has chronicled, I have been on Weight Watchers, and initially I was doing great.  Pounds were melting off like chocolate over a fire.  And then I went on my cruise around Cape Horn, and the weight loss screeched to a halt.  I even gained some weight on that trip.  And since I have been back (going on 4 months now), I have not been able to get fully back on the bandwagon.

Part of it was motivation.  Somewhere in the wilds of the southern hemisphere, I lost the motivation to stick with Weight Watchers.  What hadn’t bothered me before my trip was now a hassle.  A very annoying hassle.  A hassle that got so annoying, I stopped dealing with it.  And that annoying hassle was the point calculator.  I got tired of entering in every morsel of food I ate each day.  A salad for lunch meant entering lettuce, carrots, onions, cheese, dressing, seeds, croutons, and on, and on, and on… Anything I cooked for dinner meant entering each and every ingredient, including any oils I used in the cooking process.  And going out to eat?  Forget it.

And as my frustration with the point calculator grew, I started asking myself why.  Why was I on Weight Watchers?  Do I want to lose weight?  Sure.  I would love to lose 20 or 30 more pounds.

But how badly do I want to lose those 20 or 30 more pounds?  Do I want to give up all the foods I love?  Do I want to continue measuring out my meals?  Because I know that Weight Watchers means I “don’t have to give up the foods I love,” but, actually, it does.  If I want to stay within my point count, it most assuredly does.  And yeah, I love pizza, French fries, and cookies, but I honestly don’t eat those things that often.  In fact, I had French fries today for the first time in weeks.  So yes, I could stand to be healthier, but on the flip side, I am not that unhealthy either.

Especially since I exercise.  And I exercise regularly.  Between rides on Artemis (which, at a minimum, are 10 miles a day), walks with my dog, Charlie, and yoga, I am engaged in some form of physical activity 7 days a week.

And I try to stick with healthy foods like salads, bean and rice bowls, cereals, toast, and fruit.

Then I thought about my doctor.  The one who rails at me about my weight every time I see him.  In fact, I often wonder why I even go to the doctor since the only thing he tends to bring up with me is my weight.  You need to lose weight.  You need to lose weight.  You need to lose some more weight.  You need to lose weight.  I feel like I should just call an automated number and press a button to get a mechanical voice that tells me to lose weight.  I’d get the same result, and I wouldn’t have to lose 2 hours of my day each time I go to my doctor’s office.  Or pay a $20 copay.

Follow that up with an interesting article I read regarding Mike Rowe, and my decision was made:  I was quitting Weight Watchers.  Yes, I want to lose weight, but I only pushed myself as hard as I did because my doctor was a broken record.  I don’t care that much.  He’s the one that wants the number on the scale to be at a certain point.  I just want to feel and be healthy.  So I’m done with WW.  And I’m going to do my damned hardest to make sure my weight doesn’t continue to control my happiness.

What sage words of wisdom did former Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe share that prompted such a drastic decision?  Interestingly enough, they were pearls of advice for a young fan who had contacted Mike in the hopes that Mike could help the fan find the perfect job.  This fan writes a detailed description of what he wants in a job, and what he wants from a job, and he asks Mike if the latter knows of any positions that might fulfill these wishes.  Mike’s response was truly classic.  He begins by describing a recent encounter with an unmarried woman friend who chronically complains about being single.  Mike offers suggestions to this friend on how to meet new people, including online dating, a move to another city, or even an approach towards the guy sitting down the bar from where the two are chatting themselves.  Each suggestion is immediately shot down, and Mike uses this anecdote to explain that, in so many ways, we have built walls around our own dreams, and our own lives.  We are the only reason why we don’t have what we want – a great job, a fulfilling relationship, a happy life.  Not because the circumstances aren’t right, but because we don’t have the right outlook.

Then Mike hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head:  happiness is our own decision.  A great job won’t make us happy.  A fulfilling relationship won’t make us happy.  We are responsible for our own happiness.  And those words led me to coin my own inspirational quote:

Happiness is not a circumstance; it’s a choice.

And I have been tossing these words – and this idea – around ever since.

I always worry.  Not just about my weight, but about my job.  My relationship.  My hobbies.  My life.  My happiness.  I’m always worried that I’m not as happy as I could be.  That I’m missing out on great things.  Then I’m worried that I am happy, and that happiness will get taken away somehow.  I’ll lose my job.  My relationship will end.  I’ll end up in some terrible bike accident that leaves me paralyzed from the neck down…

I always worry.

I spend so much time worrying that I can’t stand back and just be happy.  Even when things are great, like they have been this past year.  And forget it when things are “bad.”  I shut down like San Francisco on a day the weather climbs above 80 degrees.

Which, as I write this, reveals how truly pathetic I am.  But I’m not anything if not introspective.  And I want to change my outlook.  I want to believe that even if the worst things happen – I lose my job, my fiancé breaks up with me, I’m in that horrible bike accident, etc… – I could still find happiness.  I could still feel happy in spite of things being s—t.  Because being happy is my choice.  My happiness is not the circumstances in which I am currently surrounded.

How’s it working out?  Well, thus far, I’m still working on it.  This is not to say that I don’t feel like I’m happy.  Because I am.  My life is great.  And when I do take a step back and tally up everything great in my life, then I feel at peace.  But I can still work on the “in the moment” appreciation.  I can still work on the not worrying about “what I’m missing because I’m where I am.”  I can still work on the not worrying about “what’s next.”  And when should I make the next step in my different endeavors.

I can still work on the not worrying about my weight.  Although I haven’t beaten myself up for ordering a bleu cheese burger and spicy fries today, or having an extra cookie for dessert the other night, I still fret about the pounds coming back on.

So it is a daily challenge.  A daily repeat:

Happiness is not a circumstance; it’s a choice.

Happiness is not a circumstance; it’s a choice.

And I believe it.  Now, I want to live it.

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