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The Joy of Movement Book Cover

The Joy of Movement How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

The Joy of Movement

How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

I’m a big fan of Kelly McGonigal and her ability to help us apply scientific wisdom to our lives. We’ve covered two of her earlier books: The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress. So... When I got this book, knew I’d enjoy it. But, I didn’t anticipate JUST how much I’d love it. We have some great Notes on Movement (Spark, Spartan Up and No Sweat among my favorites), but Kelly’s book will be our new go-to for the science of WHY exercise/movement is so essential to our well-being. It’s PHENOMENAL. Reading about the SCIENCE behind stories of transformation (and how, as per the sub-title of her book: “Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage”) also made me that much more clear on the power of what we’re doing with all of our work and the importance of focusing so much on Energy (especially with our Mastery and Coach programs). Big Ideas we explore include: Hope Molecules (and how to create them), persistence highs (and how to create them), collective effervescence (and why it's so awesome), how we endure (hint: TOGETHER!), and OMMS!!! (Obstacles (literally!) Make Me Stronger!).

“Around the world, people who are physically active are happier and more satisfied with their lives. This is true whether their preferred activity is walking, running, swimming, dancing, biking, playing sports, lifting weights, or practicing yoga. People who are regularly active have a stronger sense of purpose, and they experience more gratitude, love, and hope. They feel more connected to their communities, are less likely to suffer from loneliness or become depressed. These benefits are seen throughout the lifespan. They apply to every socioeconomic strata and appear to be culturally universal. Importantly, the psychological and social benefits of physical activity do not depend on any particular physical ability or health status. They have been demonstrated in people with chronic pain, physical disabilities, serious mental and physical illnesses, and even among patients in hospice care. The joys described above—from hope and meaning to belonging—are linked first and foremost to movement, not to fitness.

The question of how physical activity contributes to human happiness is the central focus of this book. I started by scouring the science, skipping the countless surveys that show that people who exercise are happier, and searching instead for studies and theories that could shed light on why. I pored through academic papers in fields as wide-ranging as neuroscience, paleontology, and musicology. I talked to anthropologists, psychologists, and physiologists. I interviewed athletes and exercise professionals. ... I reached out to friends, family, and strangers, and asked them to share their experiences of movement. After nearly every one of these interviews, I found myself relistening to some part of the recorded conversation. Not just to check my notes, but because I wanted to hear their stories again. Many of the individuals I spoke with were brought to tears as they explained what movement meant to them. By the third time I found myself typing, ‘She teared up while telling me about this,’ I realized: These were tears of joy, and the joy of movement is moving.”

- Kelly McGonigal from The Joy of Movement
PNTV on The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal
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