We only get one ride on this carousel. Pick a horse you like, go for the brass ring, and even if you don’t get it, be sure to enjoy the ride.
The above popped in my head after reading a harrowing and sad story of weight loss in Slate magazine. Titled ‘I Once was Obese’, it chronicles just how miserable the author needed to become, and has resigned herself to continue being, in order to become a size 12.
Is it worth it? I won’t judge this person, except to say that she makes a solid point against the ‘virtue’ of weight loss. ‘Virtue’ – the quality of a person – cannot be measured by a waist size. Neither can happiness, though a lot of fat people think a certain weight will make them happy.
Un, no – it doesn’t. Fat or thin, if we don’t know how to make ourselves happy, we will find things to bitch about.
I once met a man on vacation who in conversation mentioned that he had worked in a telecommunications startup, which got bought by some big company, and he cashed out a multi-millionaire. My wife gushed how wonderful that must be, and his retort was that there were still things to worry about: he had to manage his money, issues with the kids and their schools, etc. He stated that: we travel more and eat better, but it’s not that much different.
Can the vast majority of us reading this NOT multi-millionaires even relate?
In studies on happiness, however, this is perfectly normal. A study once measured happiness in two groups of people – people who won the lottery and paraplegics – 2 years after these life-changing events. Their levels of happiness were the same.
Happiness comes from within. As Viktor Frankl in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ said: you can’t pursue happiness, it must ensue. It comes not what happens to you, but what you make happen.
On this same day I got a ‘teaching’ from a little app on my phone that provides a ‘thought of the day’. It read:
There is no duty we so underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world. – Robert Louis Stevenson.
Losing weight will not automatically make you happy. Weight loss might make you happier but it is your mind that makes you happy. Nothing external can change this – at least not for long.
If you want to lose weight – work to lose weight.
If you want to be happy – work to be happy.
They are two different projects – don’t confuse the two.
One thought on “Weight Loss and Happiness are Two Different Things”
I explained to my children that I have two goals: to enjoy life as much as possible and to become wise.
For me, enjoyment has three facets: accomplishment, service, and pleasure. The best sort of enjoyment involves all three simultaneously – accomplishing something pleasurable that betters the lives of others.
We’re all cut from different cloth. For example, our son-in-law enjoys lifting weights but dislikes gardening. From childhood I have loved digging in the dirt. I tried lifting weights but find it a tedious exercise in futility. He takes pleasure in modelling his body. I take pleasure in reorganizing the environment. Both of these are legitimate pursuits.
I define wisdom as doing what is right. Both wisdom and foolishness are costly. The former requires time spent. The latter involves time lost through disability or early death. One requires considerable effort. The other involves considerable pain and suffering.
An EMT once told me that during ambulance rides to the hospital, the comment he heard most often from victims of heart attack was, “If I had known this was going to happen, I would have taken much better care of myself.”
Sadly, academia has traded wisdom for expediency, discernment for consensus, and truth for logic. In a speech delivered in 2003 to the California Institute of Technology, Michael Crichton said this:
“I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.
Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”