When To Choose Happiness Over Wellness

As a tradition during the holiday season, my sister and I take my daughter to see the Christmas Spectacular in New York City and then go for afternoon tea somewhere fancy. One year, I was only able to get an afternoon tea reservation on a day that fell within a “No Sugar Challenge” I was doing. If you’ve never had afternoon tea, then I’ll tell you 1) it’s fabulous and 2) it involves sugar.

I ask my husband, “Do I cancel the reservation? Do I only eat the savory items?” He replies, “Sounds like wellness getting in the way of happiness.”

My husband’s a smart man, but nothing he’s said before or since has made such an impact on me. This one sentence helped me refine my approach to both my health coaching practice and life in general. I believe in being healthy, but I also believe in being happy, and there’s a line where one gets in the way of the other.

For this reason, I don’t consider myself vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free, even though most of the time I eat foods that are. I refuse to confine myself, or clients, to a label. I don’t believe in “cheating”, “bad” foods or absolute rules in general. That’s a recipe for rebellion and self-hatred.

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Another Case For Happiness

Friday nights are family date night and in the summer, we like to go to a local spot for pizza, which they make from scratch and cook in their outdoor pizza oven. It’s the perfect summer vibe with all outdoor dining and live music. Last year around this time, my husband was out of town for work. He wasn’t getting back until Saturday, but I decided to stick with our tradition. Being solo with the kids, I didn’t want to risk a long wait for a table so I took the pizzas to go.

It happened to be Summer Solstice so I made a big deal of it with the kids. We dined al fresco on our back patio. They devoured their pizzas and handed me their (gluten-filled) crusts to eat with my salad because they know I love them, especially dipped in olive oil or French butter. I poured a hearty glass of rosé, while bedtime came and went. We played music and danced barefoot on the grass under the moon. It was a ton of fun, and my children still talk about it to this day, a year later.

Finding the Line

Here’s the other side: if we did this all the time, it wouldn’t have been special. This is my roundabout way of teaching “everything in moderation”, but people usually mean the indulgent things in moderation. I’m saying even being healthy should be done in moderation. Too much of a bad thing is obviously bad, but too much of a good thing isn’t good either.

Do you have an example of when you chose happiness over wellness? Comment below!

6 thoughts on “When To Choose Happiness Over Wellness”

  1. My perfect example of happiness over wellness was just last night. I ate not one , but Two delicious hotdogs grilled to perfection, added mustard, sauerkraut and the white bread bun!!!! And… I had steak too. Because I try to avoid red meat most of the time, this was a rare treat for me. Even my husband could believe I ate all that!

    1. I truly believe that when our lives are anchored by habits of wellness, the moments when we go outside of them are purely for joy, which also contributes to our health! PS – sauerkraut and mustard would be my ideal hot dog combo too!

  2. Your husband is so wise! I find it difficult to choose wellness over indulging (won’t even call it happiness bc it’s not even the pure joy you described, it’s just easier) – maybe I should say I choose survival over wellness! I wish there were restaurants/caterers/home food delivery services that shared your philosophy, because mine is similar – I just don’t do as good of a job as you do implementing it. For example, a vegan restaurant when I want some animal protein, or a paleo place whose menu is too protein-heavy….do you have any suggestions of places that serve a “label-free” but generally healthy menu?

    1. Truly you can find this almost anywhere! Do some research by browsing menus in your area (when you’re NOT hungry) or if traveling, wherever you are going, and bookmark all the ones with healthy and appealing options. As you know, I have traveled far and wide, and rarely am I stuck with no options, even in airports or the middle of nowhere. When it’s important enough, you make it happen. 🙂

  3. Last night my wife and I sat around a fire drinking and talking to neighbors until after midnight. We felt very “unwell” when our two boys were up at 5:50 the next morning but happy with the friendship and love we are surrounded by. As two working parents, we certainly strive for moderation so your story resonated. I wonder how it applies to the high school athlete pursuing a scholarship? Or the lawyer trying to make Partner? Can moderation be put aside for a period of time?

    1. The biggest factor is the “why”. You chose a late night of fun for the connection and love. That’s a strong “why”. Athletes and lawyers pushing for a very high goal may not exhibit moderation to the average person, but if their “why” is rooted in passion, then those exertions ARE their joy. It’s when it’s not – and they don’t take a break accordingly – that we see burnout.

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