“Dancing and running shake up the chemistry of happiness.” Mason Cooley
It’s been a while since I’ve written about dancing. It’s been even longer since I went dancing anywhere other than around the house, but dancing, the fun it brings, and the lessons it has taught me haven’t gone away. I’ve been walking more than running lately as well, but this quote caught my attention today. The quote is probably literally true – I suspect both dancing and running result in endorphin production. However, for me I think both are true on multiple levels. I know it’s true for me, both make me feel good – though in very different ways.
I’ve always loved to dance and only recently found that there was anything interesting about running (in college after getting shin splints I swore I would never run again – I didn’t for nearly 35 years!). I’m a reasonably good dancer and not a particularly good runner, but my ability level has no bearing on the “chemistry of happiness.” Sure, it’s fun to run faster or know more steps, but the joy doesn’t depend it. When you start learning to ballroom dance, you don’t have to have taken many lessons to the hard truth, no matter how much you know, there’s more to learn about every single step or technique.
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” Aristotle
It’s also true with running. On some level, running is lacing on your shoes and heading out the door, but there’s always someone who is faster, someone who can run longer, or some new technique to practice.
And none of that matters. In both dancing and running, as in so many other activities, the true joy is in the doing of it. What brings you happiness? Is it the challenge or the success? There are many ways to experience the chemistry of happiness; I encourage you to look for those that bring you joy through the activity itself. What shakes up your chemistry of happiness?
“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”
Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic