Why do you run?

I run to focus attention on myself. I run because it makes me a better person. I run to stay healthy. I run to set a positive example for my children. I run for fun. By myself, with a group, or with one other friend, it is fun to run.

I run for those endorphins. I run when I want to and even when I don’t want to, but I know I need to. I run to set goals and crush them.

I run for the enjoyment of the weather. I run for the enjoyment of racing against an imaginary opponent on the treadmill.

I run to listen to really great music. I run for the freedom it provides me.

I run for those who can’t.

Ultimately, I am not running away from my problems, but I am figuring out how to face them head on through this beautiful, challenging, uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking hobby called running.

In recent days, the violence and lack of compassion that people have shown in our society has become troublesome. I myself have had moments of frustration where I’ve said or posted things on social media without really thinking about how my words can impact. For better or worse, while actions do speak the most about a person (you know, the ‘actions speak louder than words’ phrase), written words can impact, or change how others perceive you.

More importantly, when making a statement it is so much more profound and impactful, if you’re trying to make positive change, to do so with empathy. Sort of like putting yourself in another’s shoes. I have had moments recently of not following that ideal, but a family member significantly younger than me, very eloquently put this ideal back into perspective for me. While others may have attempted to ‘put me in my place’ because they didn’t like what I had to say, it just wasn’t helpful or as impactful.

Don’t get me wrong, I started out saying things that were shortsighted, which certainly didn’t help. But responding in kind to my shortsighted commentary did nothing to move things forward in a positive light.

That’s when the family member spoke up, and it was profound.

Now I understand what I could have done better, and that’s the most important thing, so I can move towards positive change and be a contributing factor to the goodness that does exist in this world.

How in the world do I relate any of this to running? That’s simple. As I was running last night on the track, speeding through my 400 meter intervals, I was thinking about the comments of others (and including this family member), and I had some clarity.

Perhaps it was the endorphins, or perhaps it was just that my mind feels more clear and alert when I’m running. Either way, it dawned on me what the goal is to effect positive change, and in most cases, it’s through compassionate feedback.

You don’t have to agree at all with the person spreading the frustrating rhetoric.

You do have to respond in a way that keeps anger out of the discussion, if your goal is to convey positive change.

I’m 41, and I’m still learning so much. I think if we all opened our minds to listening to words from people of all ages, and conveyed words in a calm, meaningful way, we can move toward that more positive society.

As I continue to run the miles, I hope I’m able to increase my own awareness and empathy of others, and convey changes in a more well thought out, compassionate way, remaining open to learning about things I may not fully understand yet.

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