Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happiness is a Warm Run

July 4th is a 10K tradition for me and I set out with 57,753 of my running buddies. The Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta is the biggest 10K in the world, and I got to run it. I know, I know; I can hear the groans. Running's not for everyone, but the excitement was palpable. There was some kind of transcendent experience going on. I felt happiness all around me. Allow me to explain.

It is a beautifully clear day with a cool 71 degrees in Atlanta. With the 85% humidity it does feel a bit warm. There are lots of people everywhere and at 7:30AM the first group takes off.  They really take off, finishing the 6.2 miles in a mere 27 minutes, 36 seconds. You don't need a calculator to get how fast that is. I am elevated by participating in an activity with this amazing group of athletes.
I get to my start wave and we're all like horses in their stalls before the race. We're shuffling, stretching, talking, listening to the announcer and itching to get going. But we're in an enormous pack. We can't move much. I get a little choked up which seems inexplicable at first. Then I realize it's about being in this huge group of people united in our quest to finish 6.2 miles in the heat on Independence Day.
The whole enterprise is not too serious though. There's music blasting on the sidewalks along the course, people are handing out free food, beer, Frisbees, headbands, and other goodies. Runners are in costumes and makeup and there's a lot of red, white and blue. It's my version of the dances, raves, religion and nature that John Haidt associates with self-transcendence. Ultimately, there's a feeling of being uplifted, along with fulfillment and happiness. At that moment life does have meaning.
I'm not saying you have to find your happiness and meaning in a run.  I am saying you have to find something that gives you that uplifted feeling.  Something transcendent. Something sacred.
Of course, Happinessis a Warm Gun, John Lennon


Rebecca said...

I completely understand what you mean when you say that running makes you feel as though “life has meaning”. So many people do things because they feel they have to and they forget how to do the things they want to. We all know that we need to work in order to make money, and although some of us are fortunate enough to have jobs we love, many of us are not. Therefore, there are a lot of days when we go through the motions of life without truly taking the time to enjoy ourselves. Many of us tend to lose the hobbies that we had as children and no longer have the sense of fulfillment that we used to. Like you, I know what it feels like to feel empty and then suddenly fulfilled by doing something that makes you feel like meaning has been restored to the world. As a competitive horseback rider I know that you can’t be fulfilled by wealth alone. Horseback riding is one of those sports where you usually break even financially in a good situation. However, when I am not competing and doing what I love I never feel fulfilled.
I am a an intern for a life coach who has a website where he offers other life coaches advice on how they can improve the services that they provide to their clients. The site is and the reason why I’m mentioning it is that I think it would really help anyone, not just life coaches, figure out how they can reasonably take responsibility for caring for other people in their lives. I think that people tend to expect way too much from themselves and they are left ultimately unfulfilled. I think people need to pay a lot more attention to the small things they do and the greater impact that those small things have on the world.

Judy'sAlterEgo said...

Thanks for the comment!