Happiest Person We Know — John Tilsch
Spotlight on Happiness!
Today we bring you first in a series of Happiest People We Know. These are people who we admire for their dedication to living the good life. Not all of their journeys are easy, in fact many are paved with obstacles that might lead some down a completely different path. And yet, these people choose happiness for themselves and those around them, everyday.
We begin with the phenomenal, radiant, epically passionate John Tilsch. On any given day in San Francisco, you’ll find John on 100 mile bike rides, completing world-class triathlons and running up the trails of Mount Tam. Things you will not find John doing: shirking from challenges, sleeping in or feeling sorry for himself.
“I would do anything in the world to get him back. But I can say with 100% confidence that I am proud of who I am now, the person I have been shaped into by this loss. I say that with humility, knowing I am not without flaws, and must continue to grow to become a more well-rounded, kinder and generous person. I’m happier now than I ever was before. That is Christopher’s legacy.” – John Tilsch
My story in 3 sentences:
When I was 19 I lost my younger brother, Christopher, to suicide. I have since been on a journey of many ups and downs, trying to maintain a positive outlook and discover my own means to happiness. This quest has led me to quit a stable job, move across the country, and challenge my physical limits in competition, all in hopes of learning more about myself, what I am capable of, and what brings me happiness.
Three favorite traits:
Accomplishment of which you are most proud:
Finding the strength to live a full and happy life after losing my brother.
About one year after losing Christopher, life had begun to move forward and I wasn’t ready yet to move with it. I was full of anger and doubt.
Best thing I learned from this time:
That life can be taken away at any moment; we must not take for granted the people close to us and we must have an openness to change. We are naturally scared of what we don’t know, but if we don’t make ourselves vulnerable and embrace new experience, how will we ever learn about who we are, what makes our heart race with excitement, and how much one is capable of when faced with challenge.
What has being fearless about trying new things opened up for you:
This “fearlessness,” if that is what you want to call it, has allowed me to take some chances that I may not have otherwise taken. I began to embrace the likelihood that things will usually not go as planned, and in doing so, began to measure “success” not by the outcome but by the wisdom gained and the self-maturation that results from an experience.
What my present self would tell to my past self, or to people who are in this place right now:
It is normal to be full of doubt when faced with challenge, but embrace the challenges that come your way and look at them, not as a wall, but as an opportunity, an opportunity to learn about and understand yourself.
My ideal day:
I wake up at 7 am, take a long shower and then eat a hearty breakfast outside while reading the newspaper. During the day I go for a challenging hike or trail run with my girlfriend Polly. We push ourselves just a little bit harder each time out. All of my problems seem to escape me and my mind is sharp and clear. I think of my brother Christopher waiting for me at the top of the mountain when I start to doubt whether I can make the last push. After 3-4 hours of hard physical exertion we lie on the beach and have a picnic while watching the waves crash. After being outside all day, I return home to a shower and then we go to a neighborhood Italian restaurant for dinner, where we sit outside on a patio, taking our time with dinner, wine, and conversation. I have a cup of coffee while I digest and take in the day’s activities. After dinner we get comfortable on the couch with a movie like Shawshank Redemption, something that makes you think a bit. I indulge in some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and then we go to bed together around 11 pm.
My dream for my future:
I want a stable career that challenges me but does not consume my life. While I set high professional goals for myself and may dream of excessive wealth, I have realized that balance in my life is of the highest importance, and outweighs the benefits of free spending. Most importantly, I look forward to raising a family with the woman I love. I am passionate about health and exercise and hope that we can settle down in a beautiful place where together we can go on evening runs, and have the luxury of being able to take our family on the occasional international adventure.
The 1 thing I want to make sure my kids know:
That I am and will be proud of them no matter what decisions they make in their life, no matter what kind of person they become. I will have unconditional love for them.
My mantra or unique view of the world:
It’s not until you push your mental and physical limits that you truly know of what you are capable.
The idea I want to share with the world: It’s not arrogant if you are just a bit proud of yourself. We all deserve a pat on the back every once in a while because, despite everyone’s varying circumstances, life is not a walk in the park for any of us. But that is what makes it interesting and exhilarating!
What are your happiness tricks or tools?
1) Movies, ice cream, a nice dinner. It’s my reward for myself. Above all, exercise. I recognize how good it makes me feel. It clears my mind and leads me into stretches of productivity.
2) Taking one thing at a time. Stop letting myself be overwhelmed. Just check that one thing off the list and then move onto the next.
3) Journaling: I love writing, and yet I dread it simultaneously as it can seem like a chore when I am exhausted. So I promise to write for 5 minutes and then it ends up being 30 more.
“I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
- Red, Shawshank Redemption.
Who is the Happiest Person you know?
Nominate them here or send an email to Cary (at) LoveYourLife (dot) us.