I have a confession to make – I love to exercise. Now, this doesn’t mean that I love all forms of exercise. On the rare occasion when I travel, I admit that I watch the clock pretty closely when I’m stuck on the step machine at a hotel gym. But, over the years as I’ve tried many different kinds of workouts, I’ve gravitated towards the ones that give me joy. When I was younger (and had great knees), few things gave me greater pleasure than putting on the headphones, cranking up the music and going for a run on a beautiful day. Now? I count down the days until my next kickboxing or step class. For me, few things are more fun than jumping around to great music among a bunch of other like-minded people.
Those of us who exercise regularly can attest to the powerful effects of a fitness routine on not only our bodies, but also our brains. Exercise just makes you feel good – physically, mentally and emotionally.
I’m deeply grateful that I’ve been able to experience this joy. But, like most of my fellow Cornerstone employees, I often wonder “what else can I do with it?” Personal happiness is great, but it’s even better when we share it.
Share and feel joy
“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.”
Sharing is fundamental to human development. As toddlers, we are taught to share our toys with others. In the minds of most toddlers, this usually doesn’t make a lot of sense. But as we mature, we learn that the real payoff comes in the joy we feel by giving happiness to others. Not only does sharing bring us joy, but it also teaches us the importance of taking care of others.
“Thousands of candles can be lit by a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
According to a recent large study, happiness truly is contagious, spreading among friends, neighbors, siblings, spouses and even others further removed from the original “source”. In this study, 4,700 people were followed over 20 years. The results? People who are happy or become happy boost the chances that someone they know will be happy. Moreover, the power of happiness can reach further degrees of separation, elevating the mood of that person’s husband, wife, brother, sister, friend or next-door neighbor.
“You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience,” said Nicholas A. Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard University who helped conduct the study. “But it also depends on the choices and actions and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious.”
Exercise – be happy – share!
Sadly, there’s a lot of negativity in this world. It’s important to balance that out with positivity. Getting more people physically active is a clear positive. So, how can you become a fitness “goodwill ambassador” and spread some good, sweaty cheer to others?
First, you have to find your bliss. You can’t spread joy if you aren’t feeling it yourself. Make sure you exercise regularly, because research shows that staying active increases happiness. Find what moves you, whether it’s running, doing hardcore intervals in a HIT class, grooving in Zumba or spinning to some great tunes – and then JUST DO IT.
The next step is to share your bliss. Let your positive energy and happiness infect everyone around you. Then, consider taking it a step further by inviting those you know to join you for a workout. Succeed in getting someone else “hooked” on exercise, and you will change a life.
I was “hooked” on exercise over thirty years ago and it changed my life so radically for the better that I decided to share my passion with others by becoming a fitness instructor. To this day, I still feel the same happiness and excitement heading to class that I felt 26 years ago when I started teaching. And, very few things give me greater pleasure than seeing newcomers start exercising, stick to it and change their lives.
At Cornerstone, I can say without hesitation that I am not alone. I’m fortunate to be part of a very large and completely committed team of people who all feel the same way that I do – they believe in the positive effects of being active and they want to share it with others.