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  • Colin Jonov

Being a Positive Polly is Why You’re So Unhappy

Somewhere along the line in history, we forgot that it’s okay to be human. I’m not sure when this shift began to happen; I have some theories. However, there’s now this unrealistic vision of what life is supposed to be. Maybe even more so, there’s an unrealistic expectation of how we are supposed to endure the ups and downs of life. There are a couple of things I’d like to unpack here. Firstly, life is hard; you don’t always need to be a positive Polly. Secondly, pain is good; it makes life worth living.

Let’s unpack point one. At some point, there began this huge pendulum shift towards positive psychology. If you’ve been reading my work for a while now, you’d find I was as guilty of this as anyone. Over the last few months, speaking with some of the world’s best, I’ve come to realize a lot of that is just nonsense. Some things simply suck, guys. Some people on the PGA tour miss a putt on hole 18, and it costs them $500k. Some people miss a free throw in a championship game and never make it back. Some people lose their wives, husbands, parents, or kids. I’m sorry, but being positive in those moments isn’t a reality. Nor is it how the people at the highest level approach the bad things in life. We’ve created this falsity of pure positivity through everything to mask addressing the root cause of the things we are feeling. I was the king of this. It was my version of trying to escape reality.

Do you feel stressed? Do you have anxiety? Do you get mad? Do you get sad? Good, me too. It’s called being human. Getting angry or sad is normal. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. Stop trying to escape being human; you can’t win that fight. There’s no magic pill that’ll eliminate pain or sadness. It’s a part of life. It’s also important to know that you don’t need to explore every feeling. Not everything needs to be talked about or examined. Sometimes you just feel what you feel. The perspective shift from “No matter what happens, I need to be smiling and happy,” to “This really sucks, but I can handle it,” is a life changer. Life and athletics are full of ups and downs and things we can’t control. I’ve found myself to be much more joyful in life by accepting and addressing reality as opposed to throwing window dressing on my life suggesting I’m always happy.

Side note: pay attention to the language we use. I’ve become incredibly descriptive of the world around me. When we say we want to be “happy,” we are really saying we want to be happy-”er” than we currently are. This creates a constant dissonance between where we are and some imaginary future as we chase something that can never be attained. That’s why the language we use is so important. Happiness is fleeting. However, joy and fulfillment are lasting. By having joy, it allows me to be 10 toes down in the present moment. It derives from gratitude. I can still be mournful and have joy for the other elements of my life. I wasn’t positive or happy when my pap died. Nor was I positive or happy when I couldn’t walk for 6 weeks after knee surgery. However, I wasn’t a negative Nancy either. I accepted those outcomes for what they were. I allowed myself to experience those drastically different types of pain. I progress each day with the acknowledgment that there’s nothing good about either of those things. However, I know I’m built to handle them. I know I’ll come out stronger on the other side. And you know what? I’ve been much happy-”er” in my life with this approach than being a positive Polly.

Now, let’s talk about pain. We’ve demonized pain. As I stated earlier, experiencing pain can suck. However, it’s unavoidable. The blessing behind pain is it allows us to enjoy and appreciate the good moments that much more. Sometimes, seeking out a little bit of pain and discomfort each day is actually good for us. When we voluntarily seek pain, it makes the involuntary pain hurt less. There’s something to be said for being comfortable in painful high-stress moments.

Our human biology at its core is to avoid pain and seek pleasure. However, the part that is less known is that in our nature, we actually thrive in states of uncertainty. In fact, that’s where most of our growth occurs. It drives the actions needed to move us forward. The second part no one tells you about is that our minds actually love adversity so much that it’s why we create imaginary problems that don’t exist. Our brain wants something to work through. It wants to be challenged. The benefit comes from consciously choosing the challenges we endure instead of allowing our subconscious to choose them for us.

If we want to be equipped to deal with pain, then we need to have experience with pain. Now, for the love of goodness, don’t misconstrue what I am saying and do some idiotic task to endure pain like hitting yourself with a hammer. The point is to do things that are good for you that may cause pain or discomfort, i.e., having an uncomfortable conversation that needs to be had, take a cold shower/cold plunge, engage in a public speaking event, seek authentic feedback on the work you’ve been doing. Eventually, the more you throw yourself into this type of pain, the more you’ll begin to seek it out. Soon, you’ll become that person who thrives in pain, discomfort, and uncertainty.

We don’t always need to paint the world as sunshine and rainbows. The world has storms. My goal is to prepare you to fight back so you don’t succumb to the storm but persevere through instead.

Best Regards,

Colin Jonov, Founder & CEO Athletic Fortitude

P.S. Want to share your experiences or challenges with us? Reply to this newsletter or connect with me on social media @ColkyJonov10. I’m here to support you on your journey!

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