Just Keep Running
I was feeling out of sorts a few weeks back and I was struggling to pull myself out of it. I sat down on the couch with paper and a pen, wondering what I should write to help make myself feel better. Did I need to write a list to gather my thoughts and ease some anxiousness? Ugh, I had zero energy for that. I was in the drained state of the funk at this point. So I just sat there for a bit, slightly wallowing, and then I wrote, “Just keep running”.
I looked at it and instantly felt relief. With that relief, I felt a little happier and lighter. A momentous pivot occurred in the five seconds it took me to write it and read it back to myself.
“Just keep running”
It was that simple. Running makes me feel so good. If I prioritize that over all of the other life-stuff that I’m letting affect me, everything will start to be better. Instead of feeling the overwhelm and lack of contentedness around a whole bunch of things that are out of my control, I needed to let that all fall away, and “just keep running”.
And so I did, and I am. As often as I can, but without a huge pressure on myself, I keep it at the front of my mind and the top of my priority list, knowing that if an opportunity arises going for a run is the activity I will choose.
Here’s what has happened. I started feeling really good, almost always. It became my default. My everyday choices have changed to be more in favor with my wellness because I am happy and present and in a mode where my strongest desire is to maintain that happiness and presence.
What happened when I started living by this mantra, “Just keep running” was substantial enough that I feel compelled to compel you to recognize your thing.
What is the one thing that you do that makes you feel good? Think about feeling good in a visceral, sustainable way. Not an instantaneous comfort feeling that occurs when you partake in some self-gratification. This only offers the goodness in a fleeting sense.
Instead, recognize what the single most prominent activity in your life is that makes you smile when you imagine yourself doing it. Can you visualize yourself going through the process? And when you do visualize it, can you already start to feel good, just remembering the act of it?
Maybe it’s something you’ve only done once or a few times, but you can recall feeling on top of the world. You felt a certain buzz and energy that was beyond your norm.
Or maybe it’s something you already recognize and prioritize.
Either way, bring it to your mind. Let it sink in and roll around. Let yourself start to feel good just by thinking about it. Get excited about the potential of experiencing it again. This could mean later today, or this week, or maybe it’s completely hypothetical in it’s potentiality right now. That’s ok. This is just about recognizing what that one thing is. Getting clear about it and allowing yourself to get caught up in how sweet it is.
I have a friend whose thing is being fully immersed in nature, in the woods. She’s from Grayling, MI and she grew up within a canoe and kayak rental business, floating people down the Au Sable River. When I listen to her tell me about getting outside and totally lost in nature, on a hike or a canoe trip, she gets all starry eyed. It’s like she’s talking about a person she just fell in love with or a precious baby or something. But no, she’s telling me about the fresh air, and the trees, and the terrain, and the sky. She’s telling me about a magical feeling she experiences when she takes a two track trail to Lake Superior and the beach and starlit sky offer her complete bliss. This good feeling is so real and true to her that she plans to have a tall pine, reminiscent of the ones you see all over Northern Michigan, tattooed on her body. It’s her thing. It’s her thing because she feels so good when she’s experiencing it.
“I will get to the woods and all is well”
I have another friend whose thing is crushing an OCR (obstacle course race). He has this whole scenario around it. What makes him feel so good is the concept of hatching a last minute plan to get into the next big OCR race, wherever it may be, and just going for it. His thing is rooted in his confidence and the fired-up feeling he gets knowing that he has the ability to be physically ready, on any given day, to go run for two and a half hours straight while also conquering some pretty interesting mental and physical challenges. The scenario involves having the freedom to be race registered with flight plans and accommodations within a couple days notice, getting all giddy those next 48 hours knowing that he’s about to bring on a major endorphin high. The high is compounded from his sense of knowing he has trained to this peak physical state and then proving to himself that he can crush it, on a whim.
“Always ready, bring on the OCR high”
My thing is running. My sister said the other day, “Any time she can get kid coverage to go for a run, she’s going to take it.” It’s so true. I’ve often felt the draw of going for a run very similar to the draw of having a drink. Like, “Just get me to that part of my day!” “Get my feet on the pavement, please!”
For me, there is no better way to describe running than this; it makes me feel good. That visceral, sustainable version of feeling good. The spill-over-into-all-aspects-of-my-life feel good.
Recognizing what this feel good thing is for yourself is imperative. Discovering what it is can have a huge effect on your wellness.
We have a lot coming at us in life; careers, families, social lives, traveling, kids, obligations, worries, emotions, relationships, and homes. Stress, excitement, and to-do lists overwhelm us and also numb us. Our nervous systems are so extremely stimulated on a daily basis that sometimes the only way we cope is by shutting down a little bit and going through the motions, rather than actually being present and mindful. It’s self-preservation and self-sabotage simultaneously.
It’s an interesting polarization. We enact preservation by hitting auto-pilot in order to manage a hectic schedule without losing our minds. But, with this auto-pilot mode, sabotage sets in. While functioning in a state of auto-pilot, we make choices mindlessly. Perhaps, a year goes by and we discover an additional twenty pounds of fat all over our body due to mindless eating choices. More so, we discover that we are a little frazzled, disconnected, and less happy.
We end up preserving our daily sanity, while sabotaging our long-term well-being.
Here’s where the feel good thing comes into play. Doing that feel good thing brings us back. It takes us off auto-pilot and causes us to connect again. It rejuvenates us and breathes new life into us. That reconnection gives us the energy we need to take life as is comes and be present. There is no need to turn on auto-pilot.
When we’re doing that feel good thing, a lot drops away. We have the luxury of getting lost in the goodness. Things that seemed so large and important fall away as we remember what life is all about; experiences that bring to us this feeling of aliveness. When we live in this way we are putting forth our best effort to lead a phenomenal life.
Some days it may feel so far away to be able to do your thing, to experience whatever it is and be fully immersed in the goodness. Though, there is a lot we could let go of if we recognized the extreme value of our feel good thing.
You’ll realize that your feel good thing will give you more energy. So when you prioritize it, you end up having so much more to give; to your kids, your relationships, your home, and career.
If we get really aware of the butterfly effect our thing has on our life, I think we could all let it float to the top of our priority list more frequently.
You will always have a full life coming at you. When you’re out of line with where you want to be and how you want to feel, say it. Say your thing.
“Just keep running”
Wake yourself up to how straightforward the solution can be. Everyday, just say it. You are reminding yourself how simple it is. It’s one thing. But it’s one thing that really matters.
“I will get to the woods and all is well”
or, “Always ready, bring on the OCR high”
or, “Just keep running”
Whatever your thing is, recognize it, say it, and I bet you will start living it.