Friday, May 14, 2010

H is for Health...and Happiness!

Recently I’ve been struck by just how closely our happiness is linked to our health, it seems they really do go hand in hand. Everywhere I turn it seems there’s something saying – health and happiness!

Take for instance my new favorite book, The  New York Times best seller, Born to Run, by journalist Christopher McDougall. His travels and adventures covering the ultra running scene across America give us a peak into an amazing culture that thrives on what many see as torture and craziness (50 mile or longer races through various terrain and conditions). He explains the level of peace and happiness these runners experience, even at mile 60 of the Leadville 100 they’re beaming with smiles - no hurt, no cares, just genuine happiness.

This overflow of happiness McDougall believes is a direct result of the fact that they run, they run far, and they run fast. And they’re healthy!

And then there’s the Biggest Loser on NBC. (I admit I’m addicted and never miss an episode.) Every single one of those in the final six repeatedly talk about how happy they’ve become over the course of their Biggest Loser journey. Why wouldn’t you be happy when you’ve lost the weight of an entire person and look better than you’ve looked in years?

But it’s interesting, that’s not what they point to when they mention their happiness. Rather they talk about how getting healthier is what has made the difference. They’re stronger emotionally. They have more self-confidence. They’re not riddled with disease and the looming chance of heart attack and stroke. So, it’s not because they can now wear a size 10, but because they feel healthier – all over!

And it really got me thinking. On a daily basis I either have a conversation with a client, a friend or family member or I overhear a couple of women talking at a restaurant about finding happiness, achieving happiness, trying to figure out what they can do to make themselves happy.

And then I look, I really look at them. And I realize these are the people who are also some of the most unhealthy. They’re plates are overflowing with meat and cheese, they’re stressed out about family and work, they’re overweight (and sometimes obese) and they have bags the size of some ladies purses hanging below they’re eyes because they’re so tired. And I want to scream, “GET HEALTHY!”

Getting happy means getting healthy!

I know, I’m living proof of it. The last couple of years have been very hard – creating Sprout, growing Sprout, sprouting Sprout into another city, unearthing our new recruiting company gem™, not to mention the personal side of things. Without even realizing it, I woke up one day and realized I’d gained 20lbs and I was honestly the most unhappy I’d been in a very very long time.

Since that day I’ve made a commitment to several things, the most important eating a clean diet (Vegan organic diet – wheat, dairy and sugar only for special occasions), and scheduling, and committing, to some pretty tough workouts – oh, and tennis lessons! And I can honestly say I haven’t been this happy since I moved to Chicago the first time.

Over the last two months I’ve come to realize the hardest part is you don’t realize how miserable you truly are when you’re drowning in the stress and burdens of everyday life until something hits you and you start to climb out, get healthy, get happy and look back.

This is not merely a lesson for us as people; it’s a lesson for us as brand marketers, especially those committed to the health and wellness mission. So often motivation is about scare tactics, but what if motivation was about happiness tactics? What if there was a way for us to help people realize their unhappiness now, and what if our brands were the ones that could help them dig out? What would that do for your brand, and your brand loyalty? Just something to think about.

Here’s to living your best possible life!

Melissa Mizer – Sprout Strategy Chief Brand Cultivator