Until I received this month’s email and calendar from Action for Happiness, I had never heard of social fitness but I just love the idea of making a conscious habit of strengthening our relationships for our own well-being (and the well-being of those around us.)
And you know I’m going to be all over any system that gives you clear steps for building a habit a little bit at a time while helping you to notice (and celebrate) your efforts.
So, if you want to give yourself a happiness boost by strengthening your relationships, give some (or all) of these tips a whirl.
Remember: you don’t have to take on everything at once and you don’t have to overwhelm yourself. (You don’t have to sacrifice self-kindness in order to reach out to other people!)
Just like with your physical fitness, or any other type of practice for your well-being, every effort to increase your social fitness counts.
Every tip you try is an opportunity to add a little bit of happiness, a little bit of fun, or a little more connection to your life.
Look at you, figuring out your own ways to reshape your habits and your days so they align with your intentions and your values. Not to mention facing obstacles and schedules and competing priorities while you do it.
You are bringing a unique set of experiences and perceptions to your plans and you are dealing with a unique set of challenges while you navigate them.
So, given that uniqueness, why do you end up comparing your efforts to the efforts of those around you?
I know, I know. Some comparison is a natural thing and that natural tendency gets reinforced by the social structures we live in.
We can’t blame ourselves for the tendency to compare ourselves to other people we perceive to be in the same situation but we can choose to be conscious about the meaning we ascribe to the differences.
We can notice the differences without using them to be mean to ourselves about our efforts.
Let’s put this firmly in a fitness context:
We all have bodies but each of those bodies is different. Many of the parts of our bodies work in roughly the same way but each person’s body has its own specific abilities and capacity. Even bodies that look similar or work in similar ways will each have their own unique specifications and abilities. And those abilities and specifications make vary from day to day.
One person will find easy to build muscle while another person’s strength isn’t visible at all. Another person might be able to easily touch their toes while their partner finds it painful to lean forward. Someone may learn new movements quickly while someone else struggles to grasp a few basic gestures. The person at the front of the yoga class might be able to move into Eagle Arms on their first try while the person on the next mat finds that their breasts are in their way or that their upper back doesn’t have the flexibility yet. Person A might be able to put in a very similar physical effort every day while Person B’s capacity varies depending on their pain level, their body’s reaction to medication, or the range of their chronic illness or disability. Your brain might crave meditation while your sister’s brain finds that meditation stirs her anxiety. Today, you might be able to walk the hallway easily but, tomorrow, you may need your cane.
We all have to work with the bodies (and brains) that we have. And we have to work with what they can do on any given day. And our ‘progress’ might be slow, fast, intermittent or non-existent.
And those are just the body-related and brain-based side of things.
On top of your body’s natural tendencies, you also have to factor in your schedule. And your obligations. And the weather. And the people who live with you/depend on you.
Each of those things are going to affect you in different ways on different days and someone else’s physical, mental, and life factors are going to affect them in different ways on different days.
When you consider all of that, doesn’t comparing your efforts to someone else’s just seem ridiculous?
Me, just now. I couldn’t figure out another way to make this important point stand out in a pretty way.
We have all learned how to compare ourselves with others and these days, a variety of factors encourage us to compare our messy day-to-day with the curated glimpses we get of other people’s lives.
This can lead to us wondering why our efforts in fitness, wellness, or anything else aren’t getting the same results as someone else is getting.
And THAT can lead to us feeling like we just aren’t trying hard enough or that our efforts are meaningless.
That is simply not true.
We have no idea what combination of privilege, genetics, free time, and effort is giving someone else the results they are getting. Comparing our efforts to all of those unknowns is not going to serve us.
Instead, I’d like to invite you consider yourself as a person beyond compare.
Your efforts are about you. About your wellbeing, your fitness, your peace of mind. Someone else’s efforts and results only matter if they are inspire you or give you useful information.
Your efforts matter, whether you are making a plan, holding ground, inching ahead, leaping forward, or taking a step back to reconsider, recover, rehabilitate, or to heal. Please be kind to yourself as you acknowledge where you are in the process.
And here’s your gold star to celebrate your incomparable efforts. I’m proud of you.
For the second year in a row, I’ll be posting a Go Team! message every day in January to encourage us as we build new habits or maintain existing ones. It’s cumbersome to try to include every possibility in every sentence so please assume that I am offering you kindness, understanding, and encouragement for your efforts right now. You matter, your needs matter, and your efforts count, no matter where you are applying them. You are doing the best you can, with the resources you have, in all kinds of difficult situations and I wish you ease. ⭐💚 PS – Some of the posts for this year may be similar to posts from last year but I think we can roll with it.
Since my post yesterday was inviting you to make some space for yourself this month, I’ve decided to help you out with that by offering a short movement video and short meditation video each afternoon in December.
I figure that if you don’t have to search for and choose a video, it might make it easier to fit it into your day. And if you subscribe to the blog, it will even show up in your email!
You don’t *have* to do these every day, of course, (I’m bossy but I’m not actually the boss of you) but I’ll bet it will feel pretty good if you do.
Please adjust to your own schedule and abilities, of course, I don’t want anyone to get hurt!
First up, since I seem to hoard my tension in my shoulders and I assume other people do, too, here’s Doctor Jo with some shoulder stretches.
And as for meditation, let’s give this one a whirl…ahem, let’s give this one a sit.
Please remember that you don’t have to automatically be able to sit quietly with your breath, that’s a skill that comes with practice. And that practice involves trying to meditate, noticing that your attention has wandered, and then returning to the focus on your breath. Returning over and over is PART of the initial process, it’s not a failure or a mistake.
Feel free to check in to let me know that you did one of these videos, or any other movement or mindfulness practice, and I’ll respond with a gold star for your efforts.
And whether you do these videos or not, please be kind to yourself today. 🌟