In the last four days, two things happened.
- I went to my second spin class after more than a month off, despite nearly talking myself out of it. I was grumpy and feeling agitated because I had sat through six hours of meetings at work. I wasn’t sure if spin was going to make me feel any better, and it was cold and windy outside and I just didn’t feel like it. But I ended up CRUSHING my class, and got some of my highest stats on the power meter yet. Plus, I felt amazing afterwards in the way only a sweaty workout can make one feel.
- I cooked an elaborate three course meal and managed to time all of my cooking just so, resulting in all of the dishes being ready for eating at the same time. (I’ve never managed to accomplish that before.) Everything was VERY delicious, and nearly all of it was eaten. Fittingly, this was the night when I nearly didn’t even go to the grocery store because I was feeling lazy and thought a dinner of toasted garlic and plain noodles (AKA all I had left in my kitchen) would have sufficed.
There’s a lesson for me to learn here: putting in the effort is worth it.
I can be prone to taking shortcuts when it comes to my own health and happiness. I do it more so than the average person, I think. I have cobbled together so many subpar dinners from the dregs of my pantry staples because going to the grocery store was more effort than I wanted to put into my meal. I’ve skipped workouts because I wanted to sleep more or just didn’t feel like it. I opt for the easiest route in the short-term, never quite caring what the long-term consequences may be.
The thing with the spin class and dinner I mentioned earlier, though, is that it involved other people. I have a workout buddy and nine times out of ten, she and I are going to workout classes together. You bet that if she’s signed up too, I sure as hell am going; no way am I going to stand up a workout buddy. As for dinner? Once my boyfriend indicated he was interested in coming over to hang out, I pulled together a dinner menu (thanks, Budget Bytes!) and ran to the grocery store to get all of my ingredients like it had been my plan for the evening all along. He would’ve been fine with anything I made, but I wanted to step things up simply because I could.
In both instances, I was so happy with what happened once I put in the effort. I was euphoric after spin class, high on endorphins from a great exercise session. While prepping and cooking and eating my fancy dinner, I was so cheerful that even my boyfriend noted I was unusually chipper. (Actually, I vividly remember thinking to myself “I should really put in this much effort to making dinner more often, because it makes me feel good” as I chopped garlic.) And honestly, if I hadn’t put in the effort in either scenario, I wouldn’t have been happy, not really. I would’ve been fine, sure. But not happy. Because how can happiness equate to laziness and excuses?
Now that I’ve realized I’m willing to put in the effort for other people, I need to work on being willing to do that for myself.
For me, putting in the effort starts with identifying what I can do for myself to make me a happier person. Like tidying up my apartment each day, rather than waiting for the mess to pile up and needing to devote an entire weekend to deep cleaning it. Or signing up for a weekly farm share so that I know I will have a steady, reliable source of delicious (in-season!) vegetables I can cook with, for myself or others. Or making sure that every Sunday morning I sign up for all of my workouts that week, committing to them and forbidding any excuses to not go. Or carving out the time to write or read and let creativity flow, rather than waste time on the internet and then despair that I don’t have time to do things in my spare time where I actually use my brain.
While some things will be easier than others, it won’t be easy. If it was, I wouldn’t have to commit to doing this, to putting in the effort. But perhaps by committing to this publicly, and by identifying ways I can eliminate self-imposed barriers to things that really, truly make me happy, I can get the ball rolling more quickly on this mindset/actions shift of mine. And if that motivates me to put in the effort faster and more consistently, then I’m excited to see where this shift takes me.