How to Be Happy: The Just Cause Effect

A piece of white paper in a typewriter with the words "what is your why?'

When I talk with gym owners who are burned out or see their rants about clients who “just don’t get it!” on Facebook, I know they’ve lost their sense of cause.
They’ve forgotten why they’re doing this. Their mission has become buried beneath the ZenPlanner dashboard, the equipment payments, the books about fitness and the instructions for the air squat. They’re off the rails. They need a light to guide them back toward happiness.
That light is their Just Cause.

Do You Remember Your Why?

People can survive anything for a day—if they have a good reason.
Home flooded after a hurricane? You’ll get through it because the demands of the emergency will keep you focused.
People can survive anything for a month—if their reason is clear.
People can survive refugee camps for years—if their vision of returning home is clear enough.
But without a Just Cause, things get impossible pretty quickly.
I often tell my clients, “You can do anything for 20 seconds!”—usually when they’re doing Tabata something and saying “I need a break!” or “I can’t do it!”
And if I remind them why they’re doing Tabata intervals, they’ll actually last a lot longer.
“Come on! We’ve got two pants sizes to go! This is how your’e going to fit into those Size 6 jeans in your closet!”
(Go ahead and try it on your clients. It works.)
In the first article in this series, I wrote that happiness is backward compatible, and that, lacking a solid foundation, we can become unhappy pretty damn quickly.
So what happens when we have security and resources but no Just Cause? Depression. Anxiety. Our brain starts looking for raptors in the bushes. We create drama and unhappiness for ourselves because our brain is an organ but our consciousness is a vacuum: If the brain is not full of busy, important thoughts, it fills itself with all the negative stuff.
Why did knights go on Crusades? They had a cause they believed in.
Why do people spend a full day trying to find a Christmas tree? Because they believe in the perfect Christmas morning.
Why do we show up at 4 a.m. six days out of seven and leave after 9 p.m.? Because we believe in keeping our families fed.
And why did we choose fitness as a career? Because we believe in saving others.
That’s our Just Cause. Have you forgotten?
I’d like you to rediscover your Just Cause.
In 10 words or a thousand, write down why you opened a gym in the first place. You can even send it to me. I’d love to read about your reason.
There’s no wrong answer. I’d just like to hear it from you—because helping you fulfill your Just Cause is actually my Just Cause.

Other Media in This Series

How to Be Happy (for Entrepreneurs)
How to Be Happy: Pleasure and Purpose
How to Be Happy: Step by Step, With Bonnie Skinner
How Much Suffering Is Enough?


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.