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One of the misconceptions we innocently carry is that our happiness can only begin when we overcome our overeating habit and lose weight.
Today I examine whether that’s true, and if not, what else might be true about our experience of an unwanted habit.
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Freedom From Overeating (and other habits) online course
- Armchair Expert podcast episode with Ed Sheeran
Transcript of the episode
Hello, explorers and welcome back to another Q&A episode of Unbroken. I’m really happy you’re here.
Today I want to talk about the question: Will I be happy when I stop overeating?
I wanted to explore this a little bit because yesterday I was doing a bunch of house cleaning, and I was listening to an older episode of Armchair Expert. That’s a podcast hosted by an actor and director from the United States called Dax Shepard. And the episode I happened to choose was an older one and his guest was Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran, if you don’t know, is a musician from the UK.
They started to talk about this really interesting thing that I wanted to share, because it ties in so beautifully with what we’re learning about the Inside-Out understanding. So at some point in the interview, Ed was sharing a story about how his biggest goal as he was growing up and learning to be a musician was to have a sold out show at Wembley Stadium. And that was a North Star that kept him going. It was very specific. It wasn’t a sold out show at any other stadium. It was specifically a sold out show at Wembley Stadium. And he talked about how that happened eventually to him when he became really popular, and he had that actual experience.
What he shared was that when it happened, and the show was over, and he walked off stage, he didn’t feel the big feeling of euphoria and a feeling of having reached the peak of the mountain, that he’d made it, that everything was great and all those things that we think that we’ll experience when we reach a very specific goal like that of his.
And then Dax Shepard shared that he had had a similar experience. And his was around money; he thought that if he earned a certain amount of money, that he would feel all those feelings of euphoria and happiness and peak of the mountain stuff. And he didn’t say it on that particular episode, but I’ve heard him talk about it before.
So I’m going to add a couple of extra things in here, that he had, in his mind a very specific amount of money. When he was raised they didn’t have a lot of money. He was raised by a single mom. And they were, it sounds like, it a little bit poor. His Northstar was that if he had a million dollars in the bank then he would be happy, that would be the thing that would fix all his problems and create that sense of that peak of the mountain feeling for him.
I’ve heard him tell this story a couple of different times around this subject. He was flying from somewhere to somewhere else. And I should say DAX is a self-professed recovering alcoholic and drug addict. But at the time of this story, he was actively drinking.
He had time before his flight, so he went to the airport bar and had as many drinks as he could get into himself, before he had to go to his gate. And then he had an epiphany.
He realized that there he sat – I believe the story is he was he had been at one acting job, and he was flying to go to another one, so his dream of being a working actor had come true, and he literally had a million dollars in the bank. He had worked enough that that was the amount that was in his bank account. And he realized he was more miserable than he had ever been.
So I reflected on this, after listening to that episode, and was thinking about it last night, and I realized these stories are such a good example of the things that I talk about and that we explore here on this podcast.
There’s a few different things I want to reflect on and point to as well.
The first is that what both of stories point to really accurately is that our experience doesn’t come from the outside-in, it comes from the inside-out.
You’ve probably got examples where you’ve heard famous people or rich people say the exact same thing: they have a goal of owning a big house or owning a certain number of hobby cars, or going on certain vacations, being able to do certain things. And they realize that when they do that, it doesn’t make a difference to their good feelings about themselves, just like Dax and Ed said. And so I just really love it that those examples and all the other ones we hear really do point to the fact that our experience comes from the inside-out.
If it came from the outside-in, then in both those cases, Dax and Ed would have had all the really great feelings that they anticipated that they would have. The reason I bring this up is because I’m going to circle back around now to the exploration of overeating that we’re doing.
My own experience has been that the more that I look toward exploring this understanding, and seeing that my experience, a) that it’s changeable, that it’s a river of energy that’s coming to life within us moment to moment, and b) that there’s nothing that I need to do to control that experience, which is what I was trying to do with food, trying to elevate my mood, if I was feeling down, that there’s no need for that.
Our human system is designed to settle back down to equilibrium all by itself. And if I just leave it alone, take my hands off the wheel, it will do that it will do it naturally. And it will do it far more quickly than if I get all tangled up in trying to manage that experience and manage my feelings.
Then the other I guess the other big part of this is that Ed and Dax both in their examples pointed out how they thought they would have this pivotal experience of happiness when they reached these goals that they both had that were both very specific. And what that highlights as well is the variability of our experience, the fact that it comes from the inside out.
We can’t predict at any given time, what we’re going to be feeling in any given circumstance.
So when we ask the question, will I be happy when I stop overeating, the answer is tied to these things. Of course, that’s why I’ve brought it up. And I also wanted to say that definitely, I can speak from personal experience that my suffering has eased off since I stopped struggling with an overeating habit. That’s definitely true.
If we dig down a little bit, the kernel of truth within that is that it really isn’t about the food. Just like I say in my book. It’s about the understanding, like I said a couple of minutes ago, of where our experience is coming from and how we are designed that decreases our suffering.
And the one reason I can point to that is for those of you who are in the Freedom From Overeating course that I offer, you know that there are some lessons in there about a wine habit than I’m working to let go of at the moment. What I noticed is that when we have less on our mind, about the habit that we’re concerned about that that’s the thing that creates peace within us and happiness and calm.
So we can have a situation that might look like it’s something that in the past would have really troubled us, like my wine habit. But now that I understand where my experience is coming from, that’s not the case. I’m simply exploring it with a very light touch knowing that insight is going to guide me toward letting go of that habit the same way it did with my overeating habit.
And the other thing I noticed that I wanted to say is that drinking wine makes it more difficult to lose weight. So even though my eating habits have really shifted, and I’m not overeating anymore, my weight isn’t dropping quite as quickly as I might like. And the reason for that is that I have a couple of glasses of wine every night with supper.
One would think then that I would be frustrated, because here I am, I’ve done all this work. I’ve seen all these things that I’ve seen, and my eating habits are better than they’ve ever been my entire adult life. So one would think that I would be unhappy with the fact that I’m not losing weight. And the truth is, that’s not the case.
The reason is, I think, because I do recognize where my experience comes from. I do know that any sense of contentment that I have, or joy, or peace or happiness, or any of those kinds of good feelings come from within me. And they won’t come from the circumstance of losing weight. And they don’t even come from the circumstance of not overeating. They come because of an awareness of, like I said, where my experience comes from, and how I’m designed and how you’re designed.
So the moral of the story is, or the point of this episode is that so often, it just seems to be such a human thing that we do. We look for happiness outside ourselves. And we even look for it from things that we think that we could do differently, to make our lives better, or to be prouder of ourselves or whatever it is. I’m thinking specifically of letting go of an overeating habit in that instance. But really, that’s not where contentment comes from. And it’s such an easy thing to say.
The reason I wanted to bring this up today was just to point out that it really is true, and that even when we don’t have any awareness of the Inside-Out understanding, like I don’t think Dax Shepard and Ed Sheeran do, they still can see that their peace of mind and their contentment didn’t come from those huge peak experiences that they had.
So the answer to the question, if I stop overeating, will I be happy, is yes. Sometimes. And no, sometimes.
Your experience will be variable and changeable. But the thing that’s going to ease your suffering is that you’ll know that’s the case. And you’ll know when you’re not feeling great that your mind will settle down all on its own and that the peace and innate wisdom that flows through you, you’ll get in touch with it again once the overthinking that you’re going through about traffic or bills to pay or whatever it is, will return.
I hope you’ve found that helpful. I always like to reflect on examples that I see out in the world and I thought this was such a good one. Not to mention that I did really enjoy the interview with Ed Sheeran because I love hearing creative people talk about what goes on behind the scenes. That’s one of my very favorite things.
If you have a question about an overeating habit or any other kind of habit, I would love to hear from you. You can go to alexandraamor.com/question and there’s a form there and you can use to submit your question and I will be happy to answer it on a future episode of Unbroken.
I hope you’re doing well I’m sending you lots of love. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye.
Featured image by chaitanya pillala on Unsplash
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