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How To Be Happy: Get Off the Hamster Wheel

My life is bigger than my ass

I know it’s the New Year, and given that, we’re all supposed to be so serious. Driven by a fierce need to make 2016 better than the last, and nudged gently by the abundance of TV commercials currently urging us to make changes, everyone’s got the resolutions going.

It’s fascinating how quickly our consumer-driven culture jumps on board. One minute, we’re watching Christmas specials and basking in the glow of Christmas tree lights while Grandpa gets drunk on eggnog in the spare room. The next minute, Oprah is on our TV screens lamenting her struggles with weight and vowing that this year, thanks to the help of Weight Watchers, she’s going to finally and for good shed the extra pounds that are holding her back.

To which I say, Oprah, for the love of God, give up the ghost. Or, at the very least, have some pasta. Because if Oprah, with all of her money, success, and spirituality, still needs Weight Watchers, where does that leave the rest of us?

Just the other day, I made a list of powerful women and I purposely left Oprah off—not because I don’t love her, because I do. But to me, a powerful woman is a role model of self-acceptance. And even though she might struggle with certain aspects of herself, a powerful woman would never pander to the lowest common denominator; she would never make a seasonal commercial for a company that makes money off of women’s body-shame in our size 2 culture. By this company’s, even the most exceptional and accomplished women are supposed to feel bad about themselves if they carry extra weight.

Would Maya Angelou ever have made a Weight Watcher’s commercial?

I think we all need to lighten up, and I don’t mean our calorie loads. I mean our attitudes. We need to purposefully and mindfully be aware of the cultural and media driven hamster-wheel we’re all on that tells us it’s okay to eat sugar cookies throughout the month of December as long as we commit to at least three weeks of starvation and a renewal of our gym memberships in early January. This, to get ready for true love in February, bikini season, sleeveless tops and shorts (required wear until September when we’re allowed to put our stretch jeans back on for Halloween).

Then, with a turn of the wheel, we get ready for another round of turkey, stuffing, and gravy while issues like global warming, GMOs, food shortages, and drought, are drowned out by reports of the Kardshians, the frightening buffoonery of Donald Trump, and Superbowl.

If we look at world around us, it’s clear that now, more than ever, we need to get off the wheel. Join the gym if you want to, not because Oprah’s going to weekly weigh-ins, but because the gym gives you pleasure—and not just in January, but also in November. Get mindful. Turn off the TV, read a book, go for a walk, breathe, eat amazing food that’s real and enjoy every last bite of it, and best of all, find a friend with a little vodka, pour yourself a cup and say cheers!

None of us are getting out of here alive

There are so many interesting things to notice and experience when we stop buying into a societal consciousness that dictates who and what we should be and, instead, get to the business of actually living.

What we’re really in need of is a lifting of the veil, and that can begin with the understanding that life is so much bigger than any of our asses. If you really want happiness in 2016, do something for others. Remove your media goggles and take a look at the bigger picture of the world. Volunteer. Give back. Be kind. Have compassion. And if you know, deep in your heart of hearts, that the money you’re about to give to Weight Watchers is probably an exercise in futility, donate it instead. Give it to someone who needs a warm blanket and a few extra calories, and then go for a walk.

Be grateful and remember who you really are: a spiritual being having a human experience (I don’t remember who originally said that, but it’s a good reminder). When we do that, when we see with these new eyes, we realize that the wheel was never real and it is always within our power to step off.

Lyndsay Wells quote FB

A version of this essay was originally published on lyndsaywells.blogspot.ca, here.

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