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To me a large component of being “paleo” is the lifestyle piece. Sure, everyone should work on improving their lifestyle (sleep, movement, stress-relief, removing toxins, etc) no matter what specific food guidelines you follow, but you aren't really doing the true Paleo diet without addressing this stuff. I've learned from firsthand experience that no matter how clean your diet is, you will not find optimal health if you don't address the lifestyle portion. You are a whole person after all. And really, why spend all this time, effort, and attention on eating a restricted diet if you aren't going to do ALL of it?
Here's my question to you: Are you truly happy, or do you stop yourself from being really, blissfully happy because “bad things might happen if you do”?
If you answered that you stop yourself, you are actually pretty normal.
Recently I had the pleasure of reading a book by Dr. Brené Brown called Daring Greatly. If you aren't familiar with Brené, she's a research professor who studies vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame and is the woman behind one of the most watched (and most worth it to watch) TED talks. This book is actually written after her TED talk and is not only a fascinating glimpse into how vulnerable she felt after her famous speech but also dives deeply into why we as a human race put each other down, troll the internet, bully each other, etc. My blogger friends – it is worth it just to read this part of it.
However, the part that really struck a chord with me is how she mentions that many of us have a difficult time truly being happy. She says it is common that when something good happens, like when we win something, get a promotion, realize all of our debt is paid off, etc OR if we realize how good we have it, like if we look at our kids and realize how wonderful they are, that we temper ourselves in our celebration, our happiness. It's like we are superstitious that if we let ourselves enjoy the moment, to enjoy the absolute bliss, to enjoy the complete and encompassing love, that something bad is going to happen.
I am so guilty of this let me tell you.
I'm a natural worrier, which definitely doesn't help, but I always find myself reigning in the bliss. My son says something so incredibly adorable that I laugh and then start to realize how much I love him, and then that part of my brain takes over and I say “oh man, don't let anything happen to him, I love him SO much I couldn't stand it if something happened”. Therefore the delightful moment is now tainted (and ended) by a negative thought. Or a series of good things happen to me, and I sit there waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the bad thing to cancel out all the good things.
Turns out I'm not the only one who does this. Brené says it's very common for us to do this, and it's usually stemming from a desire to not feel as sad/angry/devastated when something bad DOES happen. However, she points out that for people that have done this superstitious-like tempering, distressing events aren't any less upsetting. In fact, it's almost the opposite – people who do this and experience a terrible event like losing their spouse or kids actually feel guilty that they did not fully enjoy the moments that they had with their loved ones when they could have. And I agree. When I lost my mom to cancer several years ago it was still incredibly traumatic to me.
So my task for you (and for me) is first to start recognizing when you either consciously or unconsciously stop yourself from letting the bliss of a moment envelop you completely. Then work hard to not stop it from happening. I've been doing this now for a few weeks and it really has changed my overall outlook on life. I just let the joy happen and not only does it obviously make you a lot happier in the moment, but it seems to spill out over all areas of your life. I am overall so much happier now than I was a few weeks ago and nothing else has happened to help that occur. All it is is a simple shift in mindset but it really makes a difference. Try it for a while and let me know how it works in your life too!
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