Happiness Tip: Add Pleasure Boosters While Chasing a Goal

Like many people, getting in better shape is one of my main goals. But as we all know, losing weight and exercising can be a major slog. And if quick results aren’t achieved, it’s easy to get disheartened and quit.

Knowing this, I’ve found a good technique for sticking with my goals: adding a pleasure booster during the process. For instance, it seems relevant to note on Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) that I LOVE Jerusalem. I lived there for nearly three years and I enjoyed it immensely.

So when my friend, Moshe, invited me last month to participate in Sovev Jerusalem, a huge bike ride with thousands of cyclists through the closed streets of Jerusalem, I quickly said “yes!”

Maybe a little too quickly…

Thousands of cyclists excitedly wait to pedal through Israel's capital!
Thousands of cyclists excitedly wait to pedal through Israel’s capital!

We signed up for the 40 kilometer (24.8 mile) path, which pretty much stretches my outer limits. What I didn’t really consider — and I only signed up a mere two weeks before the race — was how many huge hills we’d be climbing on our bikes.

In fact, my wife’s cousin told me the day before the race that he thought I shouldn’t  attempt the 40 km path because he was worried I wouldn’t make it or would get injured. He knew it is a difficult trek and didn’t want me to have a negative experience.

I’m not going to lie, it was a GRUELING race. At times I wondered if I would even be able to finish it. Eventually, though, I stopped thinking about the pain and started basking in the unparalleled beauty of Jerusalem:

Ten measures of beauty descended to the world, nine were taken by Jerusalem. –Talmud, Kiddushin 49b.

Jerusalem's beauty
Jerusalem’s beauty

We started off with a view of the outer wall of The Old City (goosebumps!) and then saw many beautiful scenes of green, rolling hills and famous landmarks.

I never would have been able to ride an exercise bike for the amount of time that it took us to complete the course, especially considering the climbs.

But I successfully completed the course because in addition to being very serious about my weight loss and fitness goals, I had combined that focus with something that brings me pleasure: Jerusalem.

Adding an element of pleasure elevates the all-important process to the same level of significance as the end goal and makes us more likely to stick with our efforts. 

I finished!
I finished!

It worked for me during the Sovev Jerusalem. I finished the entire 40 kilometers, got a great workout, enjoyed nostalgically thinking about my memories in Jerusalem and appreciated the city’s unique beauty, charm and holiness.

Hopefully everyone reading this today, on Yom Yerushalayim, will take a moment to think about the world’s most special city. It’s a definite happiness booster!

One thought on “Happiness Tip: Add Pleasure Boosters While Chasing a Goal”

  1. PS – this technique also works great for learning Hebrew. Rather than studying dry textbooks, you can watch Israeli movies, Israeli news broadcasts, Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball games, etc. Combining Hebrew learning with things you enjoy is a sure way to stick with it.

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