Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Finding Joy

I am stealing this quote from Nancy's great post the other day.


What a wonderful quote! It is so relevant to running and to life in general. I can't imagine anyone wanting to do something that steals their joy, and yet how often are we happy with what we have until we see someone having what we perceive to be as "more" or "better"?

In running and in life, comparing yourself to others doesn't bring happiness. As a runner, if you play the "comparing game" there will always be somebody running more miles than you. There will always be somebody running faster. There will always be somebody running more races. There will always be somebody doing tougher workouts. There will always be somebody thinner and in better shape. There will always be somebody who in your mind can be seen as "better" than you for whatever reason. And on the flip side, you will always be "the somebody" that is running more miles, running faster, running more races, doing tougher workouts, and in better shape than others.

So knowing that, what good does it do to compare yourself to others? Does it make my accomplishments, goals, etc. any smaller because there are others out there that have done "more"? Or does it make my accomplishments, goals, etc. any bigger because there are others out there that have done "less"? I say NO and NO.

I am so genuinely inspired by other runners of all levels and abilities. I am truly awed by the elite runners who race so fast and with so much heart, and I am just as awed by the new runners finishing their very first 5k with just as much heart. There is nothing like being at the finish line of a race and watching the runners - the fastest and the slower - finish. I cheer for every one of them for all I am worth and it makes me cry every time.

I am truly impressed with anyone who runs - with those who run a lot, those who run a little - with those who run 5 minute miles and those who run 13 minute miles. I am impressed with everyone who gets out there and does it. I have been inspired and encouraged by so many and I love being a part of the incredible running community.

Some runners do get caught up in comparing themselves to others, and all I can see coming from that is discouragement. As runners, and as people, we have to find joy, pride, confidence, and happiness in what we have and in our own accomplishments, regardless of what others have and what others do. We are all on our own journeys, our own paths, and our own timelines. We all have different talents, abilities, goals, dreams, passions, challenges, obstacles, and plans.

My Noah is three and a half years old. He was born with brain damage, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, vision impairment and other special needs. He recently started being able to take 5-10 steps all on his own. Compared to most three year-old's he is "significantly delayed" and a handful of shaky steps is a skill that was mastered years earlier. But for Noah, those steps are a HUGE accomplishment. It is a miracle. It is joyful. We celebrate his accomplishments and cheer him on, without comparing him to others. 

Don't let comparison steal your joy or the joy of others, in running or in life. Support others. Lift up others. Be inspired and encouraged by others. Inspire and encourage others. Find JOY in your own special journey, your life, your dreams, your blessings, and your accomplishments, and find joy in the lives, journeys, dreams, blessings, and accomplishments of those around you.

Run your own race and find joy in it.

Here are some great quotes on joy. I strive to be the kind of person described in the first quote.

 "There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go." - Frederick Wm. Faber

"...focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it." - Greg Anderson

"Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell

"The greatest gift you can give yourself is joy, not only because of the feeling that goes with it at the moment, but because of the magnificent experience it will draw to you. It becomes your mark, your nature, your name.  It is a wonder-working technique that will produce wonders in your life."" - Jack Boland

"The closer you come to your core, the greater is your joy." - Torkom Saraydarian
  
"Success is only measured in terms of JOY" - Abraham-Hicks

"True joy is that which gives us more energy and makes us feel more alive." - Robert Puryear



44 comments:

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Best. Post. Ever.

Love you for this and I know you really mean it and now you made me cry!!! You are the real deal and such a blessing. Thank you.

Jlern1 said...

Thank you! You are awesome :)

Suz and Allan said...

I really needed to read this today Erin!

Christy said...

Great reminder! I do often compare myself to other runners.

bekahpowell said...

Oh my goodness, needed this today! Lump in my throat at the thought of your precious boy and my own trite pity parties. Thank you for writing this.

Bill Fine said...

Beautiful posting, Erin.....we occasionally need to be reminded to stop comparing ourselves to others, as that truly is a losing game. We need to celebrate ourselves and the simple fact that we're getting out there and RUNNING, no matter the pace.

When I headed up Hereford and made that sweeping left turn onto Boylston 2 weeks ago, I couldn't hold back my tears....tears for the realization of the completion of a journey, not of 26.2 miles, but of an entire lifetime.

I celebrate EVERYONE who is out there trying, and tonight, I celebrate your little boy, because he's not just trying, he's DOING!!!

All the best!

robinbb said...

One of my fears for the Vermont Marathon at the end of this month was comparing myself to a friend that is running it. This week, I decided to let go of my fear of not being able to run as well as her and run my own race. Ever since I made this decision I am so much more at peace with running Vermont than I was last week. So much less stress. Great post Erin!

kalie said...

What a great post. Thank you!

Rene' said...

Awesome post! I wish that you were on Facebook so that I could share it.

Mama of 5 said...

Beautiful! So thrilled about Noah!!
Becky

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Rene - you can share by copying the address from the bar at the top of the page and pasting it onto your FB wall - it will bring the link in on your page. :)

Kortni said...

Thank you for sharing such heartfelt and true words!

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

I'm reminded of this everyday in my special ed class and try to pass it on to the children....AND the parents. Not everyone sees it as clearly as you do! Excellent post...many can learn from it!

MCM Mama said...

Lovely! What a wonderful reminder.

Christina said...

I love this post! I sure can use these lessons this week. I'm doing my first ever Half this weekend and I really need to just focus on me and do my best for just me. Thank you for a great reminder! :-)

Mark Matthews said...

wonderful! a bookmark/favorite worth post.

Cindy said...

this is awesome! i watched a local race this weekend and i was thinking that even though running is a competitive sport, a lot of the time we're really just competing with ourselves. there will always be somewhat better/faster/stronger!

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

What an accomplishment for Noah - it's amazing what a loving family can do for a child's health! You know he is beating all odds! So proud of him!

Jill said...

Sometimes it's not hard to get wrapped up in what others are doing and compare or be a bit competitive, but I think as I got older, it becomes less-so.

Your son is simply incredible. I know he's showing such improvement because of all the love he has at home!! :)

Becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky said...

What a wonderful post, and just what I needed read tonight. I have just finished reading a great book titled, "The User's Guide to Being Human: The Art and Science of Self," by Scott Edmund Miller which has taught me how to find my inner talents- something I have been desperately trying to figure out for a very long time. I can see now how comparing myself to others (which is something I have been known to do most of my life), would be detrimental to my success with these talents. Thank you for posting this, I really did need this.
http://usersguidetobeinghuman.com/

i Run said...

Love this Erin! Thank you! You have added so much to my "joy!" Cheers to you!

becca said...

Hi Erin!
I "know" you through the ET adoption community and have been in love with your blog ever since someone linked to it on FB, talking about how proud they were of your running. I just ran my first-ever race, a 1/2 marathon, in March. The training and the race have me totally hooked! So now I'm latching on to other "mommy runners" and learning from you all. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. It really helps me to push myself and to keep good perspective. Also, I have a special needs sister from a Romanian orphanage so I love to read about your Noah and cheering him on in HIS special accomplishments. I'm so happy to have found your running blog! I'm excited to follow your journey. blessings!
becca

Corey said...

Wow! I think you have no idea how timely this is for me this week. Thank you...this is a post I will come back and revisit over and over to remind me.

Emz said...

Love
Love
Love
It.

Finding inspiration in others vs comparing ourselves to others......I always need to keep myself in check on this one. If someone runs a 3:04 I am inspired to push harder. But the second I begin to compare ......that quite becomes oh so true. The joy .....departs.
Love it.
Thanks Erin!

Michele @nycrunningmama said...

This is one of the most beautiful and inspirational posts I've ever read. I agree with everything you said, Erin. Congrats to your son on his amazing accomplishment!!! xoxo

Janice {Run Far} said...

Best post ever.... Every runner... Ok, everyone needs to read this post. Thanks for reminding us to find "OUR" joy in life.

Yolanda said...

Amen!

misszippy said...

Way to say it! So many runners need this reminder. We got into b/c we love it--why take away from that with silly comparisons?

Julia said...

beautiful! i think when i came back from injury in january i decided 2012 would be the year of finding ME in running. last year i got caught up in trying to be someone i wasnt and never slowed down to just enjoy where i was or what i was working toward right NOW. i am trying to have greater appreciation for the journey...and along that journey...finding out who I am as a runner, what MY strengths are and what I enJOY :)

Andrea said...

Love this as a runner and a pediatric and running Physical therapist!

Vicky Cook said...

and yet being hugely competitive is what makes me and I'm guessing the majority of us tick! It's just about being competitive with myself that I thrive on. What does it matter what X, Y or Z does on any given day?
All each of us can do is our best, whatever that may mean to you personally. A bit of perspective goes a long way too, we are part of a very lucky minority who have discovered the joy of running (it doesn't hurt that we're all high as kites on endorphins too!) :D

Sean and Lisa said...

Love your heart Erin. Love how your posts are always upbeat and full of joy. I especially needed to read this today as I've spent the last couple of days having a "pity party" because I've allowed comparisons to through me in a funk.
Thank you for reminding me that my journey is mine and there's no need to compare it to others'.

Elyse said...

I LOVE this! As one of those 13-minute milers I often feel intimidated and out-of-place talking to faster runners. I feel like they'd look down on me or feel like I wasn't worth talking to (at least not about running). It's so nice to hear this from someone as talented as you!

Julie said...

awesome post--I have been wrestling with this topic for awhile now and you said it perfectly!! I tend to compare and I really need to stop doing that and remember why I run (swim, bike...) etc.---for the joy of it!

Jodi Stilp said...

Preach it Sister! My running buddy forwarded this link to me and I agree whole heartedly. Thanks for sharing so eloquently.

Raina said...

You make such a great post here. I have been struggling with some race envy, and if I start comparing myself with others, it sure takes the joy right out of my victory.
Really glad to hear about Noah and his progress. Celebrate each victory :)

Anonymous said...

Great post for me to get to read first thing this morning. Well said! Thank you!

skinny minnie said...

Amen to that sister! A good life lesson and much needed reminder to all of us!

Janaenay said...

Thanks for the great reminder, as I often fall into that mindset. Love reading your posts!

Erin said...

This post was just what I needed to read with a marathon coming up on Sunday. Thanks!

Jill said...

So true! Thanks for the reminder.

Allison said...

Awesome post, Erin. Thank you.

Teamarcia said...

Amen sister! Could not agree more. :)