So, I have some news to share that I’m pretty proud of. Lately, I’ve been doing great at forming healthy habits. I’ve been journaling every day, I started consistently exercising, I’m working on budgeting and saving, I no longer keep alcohol or soda in my home in an attempt to be healthier, and I deleted the Facebook app off my phone to be more productive. I’m taking time for me, cutting toxic people out of my life, and maintaining a pretty good work-life balance. I know, right, good for me!
So this must mean I’ve made it, right? This means I have concurred adulting and self-care. I did the work. Now, where is my reward? Every day from now on should be full of bliss and happiness, right? Where are the fireworks and the celebration? Where are the dramatic, life-altering feelings associated with getting healthy? If I made it to the finish line, where’s my freaking medal??
Some of you are sitting at home having already made the realization that I am coming to. That, really, there is no medal. And I haven’t reached the finish line. Life is still plugging along. Yes, I may be doing parts of it better and in a more healthy way, but that doesn’t mean all my problems are magically fixed. Life is about ups and downs, and even if I’m making healthier decisions, that doesn’t absolve me of those shifts and swings.
A few good changes don’t make me a new person or magically give me a new life of all happy times and zero sadness. I’m still going to have good days and bad days. We all are. And sometimes taking care of your health doesn’t come with congratulations. It comes with a breath of fresh air before you get up and do it all again tomorrow.
That’s the thing about habits, they’re kinda a continuous gig.
There’s a song I haven’t been able to get out of my head lately. It’s an old standard called “A Quiet Thing” from Flora the Red Menace. It goes like this:
“When it all comes true, just the way you’ve planned, it’s funny, but the bells don’t ring. It’s a quiet thing.
When you hold the world, in your trembling hand, you think you’d hear a choir sing. It’s a quiet thing.”
Now, in acting school, you learn how to analyze songs and perform their deeper meaning. You have to “mine the subtext” and “speak your truth” through the words and melody. So here’s my interpretation of those lyrics. I think it’s saying that when you get everything you want and need in life, it doesn’t always happen how you think it will. You don’t get a big parade. Everything isn’t magically fixed. Achieving one thing doesn’t mean it’s the end of the journey. It’s more of a quiet sense of peace and resolve rather than a constant, overwhelming joy.
This may sound silly, but I genuinely thought committing to a workout plan would completely change my life. I thought I would get really into fitness and find that motivation to get out of bed in the morning and feel completely revitalized. I thought cutting back on alcohol consumption would eliminate my shame and anxiety. I thought deleting Facebook off my phone would completely cut out my need for screen time.
I thought one good choice would lead to all good choices and cure my insecurities. I thought life would be good and happy now. I thought my problems would be solved.
But I’m learning that contentment is an odd emotion. You strive for peace and healthy habits, but when you’re living them every day, they can start to feel mundane. Each day isn’t great or perfect, it just is. And you’re not overwhelmingly happy or sad, you’re just content.
Does anyone else hitch their happiness to specific moments? Like, if I start working out more, I’ll feel better. If I find a romantic partner, that will make me feel more fulfilled. If I finally find a career that I love, I’ll have a purposeful life.
The problem with that logic is when you make it to those milestones, you’re still the same person and that can seem like a letdown. You think one solution will fix every problem when it’s really only targeting one thing. Or you think your whole life is broken when only one area needs improvement. Putting everything on specific moments and waiting for a huge payoff when they happen is setting yourself up with impossible expectations.
The truth is, life is continuous and non-linear and that can be really confusing. Big moments can be big but then it’s back to daily life. You can reach a milestone, and then start your next steps at a new square one. You can feel like you’re making progress and be so proud of that, but you can wake up the next day and get the stuffing knocked out of you somewhere else.
Getting healthy is a mindset, not an endgame.
Likewise, joy is about special moments. You’re not going to be deliriously happy every single day of your life. That shouldn’t be the goal of getting healthy. The goal should be finding peace and contentment.
Just because a day isn’t incredibly amazing, doesn’t mean it’s bad. The truth is, if every day was the best day of your life or every week was an exciting one, then none of them would be truly special.
Maybe I’m writing this today because I really need to hear it, but hopefully, someone else does too… so here goes. A boring week isn’t a bad one. Getting up and putting in the work for better self-care and work-life balance every day may not be met with vigorous applause or fantastic fireworks. Even if you feel like you’re just gliding through life and nothing extraordinary is happening in your day-to-day, keep doing the work.
Sometimes “a quiet thing” is the best thing of all. These moments offer time for reflection and finding that drive to keep going. These are the moments to embrace gratitude for the mundane and for the incredible.
I write this as I’m ending a week that has been overall “blah.” And I’m accepting that “blah” is actually okay. I had some days a few weeks ago that were really low and days weeks before that that were super high. So as I’m working to find that balance for my own health, “blah” seems pretty okay. And whatever week you are at the end of, that is completely okay as well.
I’m enjoying this time, this “a quiet thing” time, of reflecting on the positive steps I’ve been taking. And for now, that’s enough. No bells or choir necessary.