The ‘See-Saw’ of Happiness

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Bianca Thomas is on a global journey competing and training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Bikini Fitness Bodybuilding. With a a strong academic background in Molecular Biology (MSc) and Strength and conditioning (MSc), Bianca also has plans of starting a PhD.  

Bianca is a big believer that sport should be used to improve lives and wants to share the knowledge she has learnt along the way to mentor and support others.

To read more blog from Bianca, visit her website click HERE

The ‘See-Saw’ of Happiness

The nature of this Jiu Jitsu trip by default was never going to be balanced – but it is great. It is not easy – but it is worth it. I’m living neither a balanced life nor an easy one but I am very happy. I guess I wanted to have an attempt at explaining my way of looking at both these terms ‘happiness’ and ‘balance’ because underneath all of the complicated ‘play out’ we do everyday, this is what people seem to be searching for most.

For me, the fulcrum of balance is no more useful than either side of this tipping point. I guess I can liken this to the comfort zone, the safe place we return to when we have stretched a bit too far one way or the other. To live a life in balance every day and every waking moment I think is impossible; life wouldn’t be much fun and we wouldn’t learn much. At the moment, I don’t want a balanced life but I want to know how and when to readdress the divi-ing up of energy. I have had 8 weeks here in Brazil of stretching my physical, mental and emotional limits on all fronts and now an accompanying two weeks of the opposite; rest and recuperation. I would say ‘rest’ was enforced rather than I took control of that decision but in the end, some kind of balance was restored.

The question of do we need balance for happiness? Or should we even strive for it? I’m honestly not sure because 1) we need all points on the see – saw and 2) if you don’t impose balance yourself, inevitably it will happen to you anyway.

Bianca

My project was really trying to understand how competitive sport and wellbeing can go together. Can we use sport as a tool to develop mentally and emotionally? Happiness is therefore a big theme running through my particular project and I use this as a fairly strong guide for how to navigate a situation. I use a relatively crude method of following the path of least resistance; less happy, do something different or change perspective until I get more happy. Negative unpleasant feelings however are really useful and necessary and I think perhaps it’s also finding value in these – they are there to put us right again. Because of this, I believe happiness can be a learned skill and on my little quest for this I can’t help thinking humans need to be learning to be happy. We need to feel progress and personal evolution in some form. Sometimes we can do challenging things which facilitate this process and if we choose not to, life will usually happen of it’s own accord – this does a great job of enforcing lessons.

I think happiness is probably much like love; it is a feeling and no words will really ever do it much justice because we can’t intellectualize it. I expect there are many levels of each of these emotions ranging from excitement through to peace and then bliss.  The more experience we have of complex situations and emotions, probably the more generous our ability to give and receive emotion. If we feel we are learning and progressing both in goals and character, generally however hard or exhausting, this puts us in a good place. Whilst I’m not laughing and smiling everyday, I do feel I’m on the right track. Sometimes I cry (actually I cry a lot) but nowadays this is within a general feeling of content. I like the changes that are happening and the lessons are really valuable. Probably one of my biggest is relinquishing expectations both of myself and of others. As a notorious high achiever (I didn’t always achieve! but I think it’s a mindset) I can honestly say learning kindness for myself is up there with the big lessons. I do have high expectations of myself but the problem is, this also translates to expecting a lot of other people. Sometimes people don’t deliver because they can’t and that’s the best they can do – this has to be ok. People sometimes hurt you or walk out of our lives, but they are also allowed to; the expectation that life is fair is seriously flawed.

Having high expectations doesn’t work for me; in sport or life. I much prefer the feeling of having a focused ‘desire’ which is much less aggressive. It also doesn’t work well for friendships and neither should it. The truth is I don’t want to spend my life feeling let down and disappointed because of my own unrealistic standards. I’m learning to expect much less – I’m also learning when I can’t give anymore of myself and I need to restock my own energy. It’s a very nice dynamic where I care for others but I also care for myself. So yes, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I’m only now really starting to understand friendship but I’m also starting to befriend myself too; better late than never!

Wanting to learn and actually learning hard lessons has put me in very different and difficult situations. I’ve been exposed to some tremendously challenging emotions I didn’t even know were possible. The outcome is, I always feel responsible for my own happiness. I therefore owe it to myself to try and find a way of feeling good when it all goes terribly wrong and this is often just about finding perspective. Just so you know I’m human and we’re clear on this subject; without 10 cups of coffee in the morning there is absolutely no happiness, tranquility or perspective of any kind – Keeping it real!

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