Altering Our Thinking and the Equation for Happiness

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Remember when you were in school and thought:Altering the equation for happiness

“Why am I learning all this stuff? I’m never going to use it in the real world!”

Well, you were right. Most of it you didn’t ever use. But the learning process developed critical analytical thinking that you most certainly need in life!

I bring this up because I was able to analyze an idea recently – I applied some math to the conundrum and came up with a conclusion that was startling but accurate nonetheless.

Thinness + Youth = Happiness?

I started with a + b = c. A little real life algebra wherein a = thinness, b = youth and c = happiness.

You see, I never was all that body conscious when I was younger because I was pretty thin, not skinny but thin enough that I never thought about my weight in this age of weight bias.

And I enjoyed all the other stuff that youth brings with it – good healthy skin, not the thin wrinkly old stuff that now lives on my face. And perky little breasts that don’t sag like hacky sacks on either side of my ribcage when I lay down. No varicose veins, no old age spots, no thinning hair where you want it and extra hair where you don’t.

Getting older requires a whole lot of healthful maintenance and a bunch of self-acceptance. I’ve been having a hard time with the latter.

As the years have gone by and the weight has gone up, I realize that my longing for a thinner body has been all tangled up with the entire loss of youth. If I starve myself and get back to a size 8, then that small body size will bring with it all the wonderfulness of youth and that will all equal happiness.

Well, that’s how it worked in my brain anyway.

Mindful Eating and Exercise for Healthy Weights

When I heard the idea that mindful eating and exercise as a lifestyle, not as a fad diet, would result in the body that you are supposed to have, it got me to thinking that maybe I can’t have the body I want without harming my health..

Related Article: The Binge Eating Diaries: Freedom from Too Tight Clothes

In fact, a healthy me might very well be a body that’s a different size and shape than when I was, say, 25. Sounds silly to say, but that was pretty mind-blowing to me.

It has taken me a while to process the notion that I must accept my 56-year-old body. (Even though it doesn’t look like my 25-year-old body.) That I should nurture and exercise the body I have and let it be itself instead of asking it to turn back the hands of time to be the bikini-clad babe on the beach of the 80’s.

That acceptance requires me to also accept all the other stuff that goes with being older, including all the lovely conditions mentioned above.

How freeing!

And how much more sense does it make to spend my efforts, not just on maintaining health, but on enjoying all facets of my life as the 56-year-old woman that I am?

My “new math” epiphany hasn’t changed my heath regimen at all. I am still trying to exercise and eat healthful foods in a mindful way, for sure, but my goal is to optimize the health (and body size) of the me that I am now instead of making my diet and exercise efforts all about obtaining lost youth.

So here’s the new algebraic equation that I’ve worked out:

Healthy Body + Self-Acceptance = Happiness


5 responses to “Altering Our Thinking and the Equation for Happiness”

  1. Sue Phillips says:

    Love this post!!! I will consider this the “new math” for the “new me”. I enjoy reading all of your posts, and appreciate you sharing your journey with all of us.

  2. bethturchi says:

    Thanks, Sue. Blogging is my way of journaling. I’m so glad it can help someone else!

  3. alumna says:

    I did not love this post. Not everyone got to enjoy a thin youth. I WISH I got to enjoy male attention, athleticism, marriage, children, etc. If the worst problem you have is that you now miss all the wonderful things you once had due to perfectly natural processes, while others never got to have them at all, keep it in your journal and off this blog.

  4. bethturchi says:

    Alumna – One of the most important things I learned at Green Mountain is that each woman’s journey to a healthy body and a healthy body image is intimately personal, formed from their unique experiences, perceptions and realities. As such, each woman’s journey is a process of self-education and forgiveness and that can be painful! Such a process demands respect and compassion, I have the utmost for yours, mine and any woman trying to find peace physically and spiritually.

  5. BJ Whittle says:

    Beth: Love this post and all your others! I agree -we need to focus on where we are now (and not strive for where we were 20 years ago). If we honor and enjoy the body we have at this moment (eat well, self-care, movement), we can have happiness and satisfaction; and our bodies will gradually settle into the weight and size that is right for us at this point in our lives.

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Beth Turchi

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