The One Thing

“The one thing,” Curly tells Mitch, displaying his black-gloved index finger. “Just one thing.”

“That’s great,” says Mitch. “But what’s the one thing?”

“That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

The mystery of  “the one thing” is what drove “City Slickers,” the 1991 comedy about three New Yorkers taking a dude ranch vacation to find the answer to life’s most persistent question: What is the meaning of life?

The answer is no mystery. It’s really pretty obvious. The meaning of life?

Be happy.

Last week, we shared a week’s worth of tips for living healthier in 2017. We offered specific tips (eat smart, eat simple), we offered philosophical tips (don’t just set a goal, set the right goal), we offered direction (in the form of First Day hikes to help you get your year off to an active start). But it all starts with being happy, because if the path you choose doesn’t make you happy, you won’t be on that path for long. Contrary to puritan ethics, happiness is not a demonic indulgence. It is the key to survival.

If you truly aim to be healthier in 2017, let happiness be your guide. There are a surprising number of ways to eat healthy and happy. Eat simple foods, sure, but indulge every once in a while. Experiment. As our blossoming awareness of food allergies attests, different foods work for different people. A happy body will let you know the diet you need to embrace. Listen.

The same with movement. The reason so many workout resolutions fail so quickly (most fizzle by the third week of January) is that they feel like just that, work. Being active is about so much more than sweating and losing weight: the physical benefits are important, but so are the mental benefits of a mind freed by movement (a mind that’s not so free when it’s focused on pain). One of the reasons we avidly promote hiking through our GetHiking! program is that even when a hike does feel like work, that work is often leading to a worthwhile goal: a mountaintop vista, a waterfall, an old-growth forest. Even then, the distractions of the woods — the solitude, the quiet — free your mind to go where it rarely gets the chance.

So if the cottage cheese diet is fulfilling, go for it. If working the Abdominizer puts a smile on your face, good for you. For you, those are the smart choices.

And the happy ones, too.

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If you missed them, here are last week’s posts for a healthier 2017:

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