The Key To Satisfaction Whatever You are Doing

tennis raquets

Want to know the key to satisfaction in whatever you are doing? Read on!

Lately I was inspired by a suggestion: when you do your ‘thing’ in a day, let part of your mind step back and ask ‘what about this teaches me something?’.

The idea was to apply this to your daily health practice. Since we’re on that topic, I practiced health yesterday by walking 3km to my office (that’s normal for me) and then playing 45 minutes of really bad tennis in the evening. I play tennis a few times a season. I’ve played more in the past, and I’d play more if I had more time. But I don’t. So I go rally or count game score with someone I know through my local tennis club. We are a good match in skill. It doesn’t bother me that I’m not excellent. I do have a bad knee (horse injury) which cannot handle being rotated too much (and tennis definitely rotates your joints). I want my knee available for other things, more than I want to kill it playing ‘bad’ tennis.

When I have time and want some alternative cardio option to running, I sometimes go and hit balls on the backboard. It’s fun, it makes me feel like a kid again: ridiculously running after a ball, getting addicted to seeing how many times I can return it before I lose it.

For me, tennis doesn’t need to be excellent. I have areas of my sport life that I really do care about. Mostly, I take equestrian training seriously. Even in that sport, I pick my battles. There are things I do with it that I just play with to get outside my comfort zone, and other areas that I care more about excellence. I learned long ago that excellence and competition results are only loosely correlated, since you are in control of how well you train, but not in control of the raw talent or training that other people bring to the competition. On days I’ve won a championship or first place, I’ve kept in mind that maybe the person who is actually better than me, had a bad day or didn’t show up.

Right now I don’t train in my main sport because I’ve gone back to school and the PhD keeps me too busy. So my main sport is on pause. That happens in life. You can get an injury, lose your training partner, have a change in budget. When I had foster children living with me, most of my own personal way of engaging in sport went on pause while I figured out how we could be an active FAMILY because at that time, the priority was getting them engaged in life and adopting healthy habits.

What my ‘healthy living practice’ of playing tennis reminds me about, is the key to satisfaction. The key to satisfaction in whatever it is you are doing is to leave no ‘money on the table’. Don’t narrow down the definition of what you get out of it to someone else’s reason.

For example, I get full value out of my tennis time. I know I’m getting some cardio, building my co-ordination, having fun, making social connection in my community, taking time away from serious things to be totally not serious…all of those reasons are great benefits. I don’t need some other assessment of whether my time spent playing is ‘worth it’.

My skill level is not relevant to my enjoyment and to all those other benefits (provided I can return the ball enough that we aren’t spending most of the time picking up dropped balls).

So, how is your healthy living ‘practice’ going? What is the activity you can easily fit into your schedule…regardless of whether you’re ‘good’ at it?

(c) Heather Sansom. You may share this article through social media, however reproduction without permission violates copyright law.
Heather is a coach, consultant and researcher in wellbeing and sport.
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