There was a blog post in the New York Times recently that explored the possibility that most people are motivated to keep exercising not by the “imperceptible” health benefits (like increased HDL or lower Blood Pressure), but because of how they feel because of it- because of that boost in energy, the ability to carry those bags up the stairs without stopping to rest, or a clear headed start to a busy day. I have heard the statement “I want to exercise to feel better…” hundreds of times over the years. The article in the Times gets into some other topics as well, but the point that is most useful to note is this: People are most inspired to stick with a new healthy behavior because of something that they can feel. This is not an earth shattering discovery – we know this. I hear multiple times a day that feeling better is a benefit that John Doe would like to see come of his new routine. Fear for his health might make him think he “should” start a new behavior—but the hope that he will be happier, that he’ll be able to enjoy time with his family without feeling drained, and that he will wake up ready to be fully alive each day—these things will give him a foundation to stand on.
We all have the opportunity to spend part of each day doing the important work of helping others tap into their inspiration, take the risk to hope, and feel alive. We can all help another feel into their foundation.
How can we do that?
We can be genuinely curious about each individual with whom we interact and listen for the things that makes another feel alive and moving into his or her full abundant potential. And when we hear those inspirations, we can point them out, or be curious and ask questions to learn more. Some people will be more willing to share than others-and that’s ok. The task of the coach, or the friend, or the partner, or the neighbor is to meet others who come to share their space in a way that respects where they are and supports whatever stage they are moving through. Some will be excited, some will be afraid, some will be angry and some will be indifferent. Yet they will all be human, and they will all have at their core something that will inspire them to move – in whatever direction they need to go.
We don’t know if we’ll find it, but we’re going in search of happiness.
– Kilian Jornet