Committing to happiness

Monday, January 28, 2013 Permalink

When I’ve talked before about weight loss I often quip that I’m motivated, but not committed.

By that I usually mean I hate my body and my life and want to change it (and know what I need to do), but cannot find the resolve I need to actually make the changes. I’ve said it before… I’m an ‘ideas’ girl. The follow-through is a bit of a problem!

Unsurprisingly Domonique Bertolucci lists the principle of commitment as the ninth key to happiness in her book, The Happiness Code.

“Although happiness is a state of being, it usually still requires some doing if it is to be lasting in your life.”

What, we have to work at it? Shit! It’s just like that bloody healthy living / losing weight caper! Where’s the fairy godmother and her magic wand, or genie in a bottle when you need them?!

“A fulfilling and meaningful life isn’t something that just happens,” Bertolucci reminds us. “It’s something we need to create. Like anything we have to maintain and sustain it.”

Bertolucci says that EVERY SINGLE DAY we are faced with a series of seemingly-ordinary choices. We don’t, she says, just have to make a decision to take us down the road to happiness just once, rather…. we have to make them again and again.

She also reminds us to consider the repercussions of our choices and make those consistent with our values and supporting our commitment.

Again Bertolucci includes reference to ‘being our best’ (perhaps she was a fan of the TV series Dollhouse?). I’ve already said that I like this notion – eschewing the concept of ‘perfection’ for that of just trying to be the best we can be. She notes, however, that even this is undesirable to some.

“Most people are fine with fine and okay with okay. If you want to be the best you can be, make sure you’re not.”

Perhaps this is where I’m struggling. I say I’ve always been a perfectionist – but do believe I’m now far more realistic about what I might achieve in life. Perfection seems all-but-impossible.

But… perhaps the guilt and frustration that ‘bug’ me are a result of being ‘okay’; not ‘the best I can be’. Bertolucci talks a bit about the ‘why’, saying that … “waiting for it to be easy is one of the main reasons people don’t make the changes they need to make, to be truly happy and fulfilled in life. Very few desired changes can be achieved without effort and a commitment to that effort.”

She tells us, if we want to make changes in our life, think about why.

“Identify your driving motivation and you will have all of the encouragement you need.”

I was in the bathtub last night. Unsurprisingly… yes. (Actually I was in there for 2-3hrs reading an entire novel, but that’s another story!)

During a break in the reading I contemplated my agenda for today. Perhaps I needed to go grocery shopping, I thought. And immediately the idea of ‘treat’ food came roaring into my mind. I pictured myself ensconced in front of the television with rice cakes or corn chips. But in a rare moment of clarity I asked myself about the repercussions of such a binge (or overeating episode). Likers of my Facebook page will know that this is a particularly sensitive matter after weighing myself on the weekend.

“No one will ever love you,” I told myself as I imagined staying the size I am now and continuing to feel unattractive and frumpy.

Sadly there was no lightbulb moment or clarity today – as I continued to contemplate the purchase of trigger foods.

But, Bertolucci’s suggestion that we look at our driving motivation is consistent with what I (kinda) already know. Many of my reasons for wanting to lose weight are externally driven: be perceived as attractive, not be judged by others etcetera.

But, surely I want to lose weight to be healthier and fitter and feel better? Surely?!

Perhaps I do want that, but obviously not enough to consistently make smart decisions to get me there. Because, as Bertolucci says:

“The most important commitment you will ever make is to being the best you can be.”


What about you? Do you believe there’s a difference between being motivated and committed?
Do you strive for: perfection; your best; or is okay enough most of the time? 


  • Liz@LastChanceTraining
    January 28, 2013

    There is a big difference between motivation and commitment, the latter being about to do the hard slog no matter what. That’s why being married is truly a commitment – sometimes you have to slog through the mundane to smell the roses – it’s also the same with weight loss – every meal need not be a banquet and sometimes it’s quite boring but the rewards are great. Motivation doesn’t last – well doesn’t for me, but commitment helps ramp it up.


    • Debbish
      January 29, 2013

      Yes… I realise I’ve been on the right track when I’ve talked about my commitment as opposed to my motivation.


  • Satu
    January 28, 2013

    I think Demonique (I like that version of her name more!) is indeed on to something. I’ve often had motivation to do things, but because there was no commitment, I didn’t get very far. I’m actually now in a place where I feel I may have the commitment to make some important changes in my life.

    What comes to perfection (or doing my best), I’m on the mission to get rid of my perfectionism, because it has been such a destructive force in my own life. I want to have fun in my life instead!

    I’ve been meaning to write a post series about it’s deleterious effects on BC, but never got started. You might want to write a guest post for me on the subject…

    I love the picture you used! 😀

    • Debbish
      January 29, 2013

      I’d certainly love to do that Satu!!!

      At the moment I’m happy to pursue ‘being my best’ rather than perfectionism.


  • Jo Tracey
    January 29, 2013

    Yeah, I struggle with commitment- yet I’ve been married for ever! I’m the same- I want to lose weight…but do I want it enough to do the hard work- every day, every meal, every training session? That’s commitment…

    • Debbish
      January 29, 2013

      Yes, as I read about the need to make decision after decision in line with what we want, I realised it’s just like being healthy. There are a million little decisions we make every day which contribute to that.

  • Char
    January 29, 2013

    Perfection isn’t something achievable. And we screw ourselves up trying to attain it. Perfection is some ethereal line in the sand that we’ve drawn that’s so far out of reach that we fail over and over again and make ourselves feel so bad because we’ve failed. I just try to do the best that I can and forgive myself my shortcomings. I tried for perfection and made myself a bulimic and that certainly didn’t make me happier.

    • Debbish
      January 29, 2013

      Yes, I think I was the same for much of my younger years, which makes me realise that I’m no longer / less of a perfectionist.

      It worries me more that I’m ‘not trying’ at all at the moment though – wallowing in mediocrity – which is something that I’m surprised I’d do.

  • Jess
    January 29, 2013

    This reminds me of the personal training course I did. We studied a section on the stages of change. There were 5 or so stages.
    Pre contemplation- thinking I need to lose weight occasionally but nothing further.
    Contemplation was actively thinking about losing weight and how to do it.
    Planning was researching, talking to people, looking at gyms, diets etc.
    Action was actually doing it!
    There was possibly others along the way I’m missing. Anyway most people, if they arent motivated by fear or some major experience that draws them to act quickly (ie heart attack) need to go through these phases.
    I think if you’re motivated you’ll be committed. Commitment to me is a symptom of motivation. I think you can be motivated in the planning stage or contemplating stage to think about and mentally prepare for action, but not yet ready to be motivated to act. Not sure if any of that made sense.

    Interesting post! I wouldn’t mind a visit from the happiness fairy god mother if you find her!!!

    • Debbish
      January 30, 2013

      Jess, it’s definitely the Action phase which gets me every time. I’m a great planner!


  • Marion
    January 29, 2013

    Hi Deb! Well, as a recovered perfectionist–perfectionism isn’t about doing one’s best; it is about being obsessed with details. Doing one’s best is sort of the opposite of perfectionism in that you have to give up that last little detail(s) in order to move on to something that needs work or takes higher priority–even when you’re not entirely ready to go forward. It’s hard to do, but moving forward is worth it.

    🙂 Marion

    • Debbish
      January 30, 2013

      I agree Marion and think the author of the book is saying that – she sees perfectionism and ‘being /doing your best’ as two different things. Knowing that you’ve tried your hardest – she says – is all we can do.

      I like your approach about moving forward…

  • Brian Killian
    February 2, 2013

    Hi Debbish, I”ve enjoyed reading some of your posts. Have you ever wondered ‘why’ your brain wants you to hold onto body fat? Considering the amount of fat is determined by your hypothalamus, a part of the brain you have no direct control over, it raises the question: what circumstances is your brain interpreting to believe holding onto a level of body fat is in your best interest. What does it think you are ‘starving’ for?

    • Debbish
      February 4, 2013

      Hi Brian and thanks for your comment!

      I don’t know. I’ve spent years dieting on and off – my body is possibly waiting for the next round of starvation!!!


  • Becc
    February 8, 2013

    There is definitely a difference. Motivation to me is more of the energy force to get you started, it is the commitment that is the creator of success. Many moons ago when I wanted to give up smoking, I had plenty of motivation, but never really bothered to start. It was only when there was this shift – call it commitment – that I actually succeeded.
    It was the same with my weight loss journey. I have lost 16kgs & kept it off. What was required was that shift or commitment AND finding the right solution for me. That means not cutting out alcohol entirely and having a day off to indulge the cravings (I have been known to eat almost an entire chicken and follow it up with a couple of cherry ripes in a feeding frenzy when on a diet – suffice to say that particular diet did not work for me!).
    I have written a bit about what I did on my blog if you are interested, let me know & I’ll send you a link 🙂
    As for perfection – no thanks!!! I have always been just above average and for the most part am happy to be there. Maybe I need to rethink this, as I am not sure it is getting me to that happy place….
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

    • Debbish
      February 8, 2013

      Hi Becc and thanks for your comment!

      And… am already a liker on FB and read your blog! (Am a lurker!)


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