When most people think of the good life, they think of retirement: golfing, reading, spending time with family and the overall absence of work. For most, the good life is some form of an indefinite vacation.
The details of each person’s good life change, but there is one constant. It’s invariably described as something that is still to come or a place they have yet to earn entrance to. Very rarely do they describe the life they are living now.
Shouldn’t the good life already be happening, in the present? Shouldn’t everyday have a little more spunk? My good life is about freedom of action instead of freedom from work. I want to do crazy things in faraway places and to share moments of triumph with the people I love. I want to go on like this day after day, for as long as I can stand it!!
Unfortunately, the world is pitches us the opposite. Kids are put on a retirement track at age 12. Middle school grades determine placement in a quality high school, only to get accepted into University, to then pursue a master’s degree, to go onto a PhD or professional position so student loans can be paid off and credit can be established. This is necessary to save for a house and have kids to put away money for their college tuitions and further put off saving for retirement, aka the good life.
We’ve been convinced that happiness is largely connected to our bank accounts—that money equals freedom. But without physical fitness we are in no position to exercise freedom. Without recognizing that individual happiness starts from within, true comfort will elude us. Many are so busy working to ensure financial stability that they become physically and emotionally defunct.
People fail to see this until later in life. Everyone worries about finances, but how many worry as much about their physical or emotional heath? People are at their most sickly and stressed when affording the good life is all they think about. Without wellness, all the money in the world won’t make a difference. So what’s the point of working your whole life for the golden years if you won’t be capable of enjoying them?
Committing to a healthy lifestyle forces us to acknowledge that we have some measure of control and that every moment matters. No matter how tough things get, no matter how badly we want to curl up and hide, every moment offers a new opportunity to do something positive.
The work ethic needed to push past limitations and physically improve the human body teaches us that progress is earned through an accumulation of hard efforts. Sticking to a diet takes will power, sacrifice, and restraint. Getting up at 6am to train takes discipline. You won’t succeed unless you are of the mindset that every bit matters.
The balance found in a strong, healthy body breeds happiness. From the capacity to move without pain, to the confidence you feel from a positive self-image, to the endorphins you get following exercise, fitness truly is the foundation of the good life.
Habits learned over a lifetime are hard to break. People are who they are until they make the decision to be different. If someone is the type of person that complains about their boss, they probably complain about restaurant service, and they will still be complaining about the slow pace of play during their country club retirement.
You have to choose change. Making physical health and wellness the top priority in your life is a choice. Being grateful for the things you have instead of bitter about the things you don’t is a choice. Accepting responsibility for things you can control and letting go the things you can’t is a choice.
There’s so much happening now! Be an active participant in your own life! Choose to stop waiting until tomorrow. Acknowledge that the good life isn’t some place you buy your way into with good behavior and sound financial planning. It’s there to be lived, so start living it.