Shal the Scientist

You may have already figured this out, but I’m not one to get too excited about science.  I vaguely remember learning about the wavelengths of light and different colors either in middle or high school, and for a small time I couldn’t see a color without thinking about the size of its wavelength and why I was seeing that color.  And don’t get me started on atoms!  When I was first taught that everything was made up of these teensy-tiny building blocks, my mind was blown and the way I saw everything changed…at least until I saw my crush in the hallway and forgot all about science class, lol.

            I guess what I’m getting at is that when it comes to the natural world, I typically prefer to live in the magic of wonder instead of the light of understanding.  So imagine my surprise when I found myself thinking about inertia the other day.  It’s Newton’s ‘First Law of Motion’ (and, yes, I had to look this up to refresh my science knowledge) which states, basically, that an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless an outside force gets involved (I remembered that!).  It’s all about energy amounts and movement and…well, boring science jargon.  Sorry to all you science-lovers out there!

            As I continue this journey of actively seeking a healthier and happier lifestyle, I am realizing more and more that inertia is a powerful reality in our lives.  If I get home from work, change into comfy clothes, and we decide to eat dinner on the couch while watching a show, the likelihood of doing anything productive for the remainder of the evening is greatly decreased; I’m an object at rest that wants to stay that way.  If I’m trying a new, healthier product or doing a DIY project and something goes wrong or I’m not pleased with the results, it’s natural for my movement towards healthier decisions to be slowed; the disappointing outcome is like that outside force that changes my speed and/or direction.

            But here’s the upside: once you propel yourself (or are moved by other forces) to be actively moving towards health and happiness, inertia will help you keep moving in that direction.  That makes me think of how I did some research almost 2 years ago on how to clean my oven without using harsh chemicals, and soon was using baking soda, vinegar, and lemons for other cleaning, which led to reading the labels on my cleaning products, which coincided with my reading food labels for ‘high-fructose corn syrup,’ and then was making sure our bread was whole wheat…I think you get the idea : )

I believe this knowledge is empowering in two important ways:

  1. Awareness – Once you know that there are pesky forces that may slow you down or bring your progress to a grinding halt, it is easier to see them coming and prepare…or even try to avoid them.  Whenever I am frustrated with this journey, it is easy for me to think negatively and become discouraged.  But if I remain aware, I can remind myself to stay positive and not allow one event to derail my forward movement.
  2. Encouragement – According to this law of motion, it is natural to keep going once we have started.  So, even if you’ve taken only one step toward a happier and healthier life, the difficult part of beginning is already behind you.  I find that very uplifting!  Use this scientific fact to help you keep rolling in the right direction.

How has inertia helped or hurt your journey to better health and happiness?       

The Toughest Choice

I’m starting to feel like I want to begin almost every post I write with some sort of apology about the hard work aspect of what I’m going to share.  In fact, today’s topic was going to be ‘difficult conversations’, but as I was brainstorming about that, it dawned on me just how much work it takes most of the time to be healthy and happy.  Sure, I have those moments and even days – I hope you do, too! – when everything seems to be ‘flowing’ and ‘just going right’ and I just feel happy, you know?  But maybe that’s the exception and not the rule.  Perhaps, most of the time, my happiness is a direct result of tough choices I have made and difficult work in which I have endeavored.

               Recently, my mom sent me a text with the following quote from the Dalai Lama: “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”  This really struck a chord with me.  I am sure part of the reason was that my mom happened to send it to me when I had just finished a difficult task that I was hoping would bring some more fulfillment and provision into my life [Thanks, Mom! (she’s probably going to print this post out now and put in on her fridge…she’s that kind of mom, lol)].  But I think the other, more important reason is that it is such an important truth, and I believe truth we need to hear has a way of sticking to us until we get it.

            And I don’t think we get this.  I think we want to swing by the drive-through and grab a bag of happiness with a large side of peace and contentment.  I think we want happiness specially delivered and expressed shipped to our door.  I think we want that one book we read or movie we watch or place we visit or person we love to give us that happiness we’re so longing for.  But I’ve got news for us, all of us – that is simply not the way it works.

            Happiness is a choice.  Sometimes our circumstances make this choice more difficult or even nearly impossible, and I in no way wish to belittle nor discredit this.  But nearly impossible is not the same as impossible.  We can choose actions that lead to our own happiness.  We cannot control everything (which I personally thank God for), but we can control how we respond and react to the things we have no power over.

            Time for a difficult confession – I don’t always want to choose happiness.  Sometimes, I’d rather feel angry, sad, or bitter.  Sometimes, I want to wallow in emotional yuck just like I sometimes prefer greasy, fried food from Chicken Shack as opposed to a healthier option.  I think the fact that we have this choice is a testament to our humanity.  I think it is a part of the weird and beautiful mess of creation that we are.

            So, I will give myself grace in those ‘down’ moments to feel whatever I choose to.  However, I will try to remember the power of choice I have been given and use it to choose happiness for myself and, whenever possible, to help others choose happiness, as well.