The Happiness Recession

Happiness has been in sharp decline. It's time to recognize why and turn things around.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Arnold’s Monday Motivation

  • The Happiness Recession

  • Workout of the Week

Arnold’s Podcast

Motivation every day. Want Arnold to help you start your day? Each morning, we post a new podcast with tips you’ll find in the daily email and bonus stories, wisdom, and motivation from Arnold. Listen to Arnold's Pump Club podcast. It's like the daily newsletter but with additional narration and thoughts from Arnold. You can subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Arnold’s Monday Motivation

Today, I want to talk about time.

I have discussed this before, but we read all of your emails (if you ever have anything you want us to cover, just reply and all of us see it), and one of the most common questions, no matter how much I talk about it, is how to find time for fitness.

The short answer is you don’t find time. You make time.

The longer answer is that everybody starts out with the same amount of time, but a lot of us waste too much of it.

Let’s go through your schedule. We all have 24 hours in a day. If you sleep 8 hours, you have 16 hours left. Let’s say you work 8 hours. Now you’ve got 8 hours left. But you have more to do, so let’s say that between driving and making meals and doing things around the house, you use two more hours.

You have 6 free hours. Even if you work 12 hours a day instead of 8, you have two free hours.

So let’s be honest: you can make 30 minutes or an hour for training, and you will still have time left to play with your kids, watch your favorite shows, read, or relax.

When you say you don’t have time to train, what you are really saying is that you’ve chosen not to train. I always tell this village to check your screen time and see how much time you spend on social media because every minute spent staring at a screen is a minute you choose not to prioritize your health.

Now we know that somewhere in your day, you can make the time to train. But how do you actually do it? We’ve heard from so many of you that you’re busy parents, and every second is tied up with your kids and your work.

I’ve got a plan for you, but you might not like it. Set your alarm 30 minutes or an hour earlier.

I’m a fanatic about training first thing in the morning, for many reasons. It starts out my day by accomplishing something right away; it makes me feel good, and nobody can derail my day in the morning. That time belongs to me. When you wake up before most people, nobody bothers you with a work phone call or anything to get in your way. Nobody asks anything of you because they’re still sleeping.

I was lucky to learn this lesson early on. When I was 20 years old, I went to train with my hero, Reg Park, in South Africa for the first time. I have to admit it was a little bit of a shock treatment when he woke me up at 5 in the morning. But it worked. Reg explained to me that the early morning was the only time he could guarantee for himself; the rest of his day, he was busy being a husband, a father, and a gym owner.

All of us, no matter how successful, are on call to somebody most of the day, whether it’s our kids, grandkids, or coworkers. The morning belongs to us if you’re willing to wake up before anybody else.

If 30 minutes is too much, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and do one of the workouts we share every week here right next to your bed. That’s why we make sure every weekly workout is efficient and can be done anywhere. Even if you can’t do the whole workout, do one or two sets of each exercise, and that’s better than nothing. I don’t want you to have any excuses.

If I can convince you to make the time for fitness and yourself in the morning, I know you’ll learn to love it, like I did. That first alarm is going to be a shock, and you might say, “That damn Arnold.”

But I know that once you finish training, you’ll thank me. Go set tomorrow’s alarm. Do it now. Make the time.

Daniel’s Corner: Where Did Happiness Go?

Daniel here. Derek Thompson is one of my favorite writers, and when I saw him share this study about how happiness went into a nosedive in the early 2000s, I knew I’d need to find a way to write about it here.

You know, here in Arnold’s Pump Club, we talk a lot about the dangers of social media, so I’d love to blame this plummeting happiness curve on Twitter and Facebook. But this dive started before Facebook was introduced at Harvard in 2004 and before Twitter hit phones in 2006.

Some of the smart people in the replies talk about broadband internet, and I think there’s a good argument for that. Since I’m an old millennial, my school days started with no internet, went through dial-up, and eventually landed on broadband. When I look back at my adolescence, before broadband, nearly every social activity involved playing with friends, almost always outside. When dial-up internet came around, everybody was very limited unless they got a second phone line so their parents wouldn’t yell at them that their aunt or uncle was trying to call, so almost everything we did still happened away from a computer. Plus, you built up a lot of patience waiting for all of those clicks and beeps and for whatever page you wanted to load.

After broadband, we still got outside a lot — but our time shifted more and more to a computer, and all of us had to turn on our AIM away messages before we went to meet friends in real life.

I’m not an expert, so it might be broadband that has caused this insane drop in happiness. But I think something else is more likely. In 1999, BlackBerry hit the market, and suddenly, the computers went outside with us. Palm Pilot had come a few years before, and it took a few years until everybody used some mobile computer for work, so the precipitous drop somewhere between 2000 and 2005 makes sense.

Within a few years, phones went from something you used to call and text your friends (if you had the patience to hit each button multiple times until you got to the letter you actually wanted) to email inboxes that permanently connected you to work. Our guilty pleasure when we were bored switched from occasionally playing Snake on our Nokias to having the entire internet in our hand.

Within a few years, the image of someone who stared down at a machine in their hand switched from someone you might keep your distance from to literally all of us.

So that’s my hypothesis: when the computers went outside with us, our happiness took a major dive. What do you think? We’ve had such a great experience outsourcing wisdom to the Pump Club. You’ve already seen ideas from the village about how to make friends.

And more importantly, what will you do about it in your own life? I am going to stop taking my phone on any of my rucks or walks, and I’m never bringing it into my daughter’s room when I put her down at night. I still have my Apple Watch, so I can be reached in an emergency. Maybe this is cheating, but it’s better than sliding down that that happiness curve.

Workout of the Week

Last week, we gave you a 4-circuit workout that pumped up your muscles and raised your heart rate. Many of you liked it so much that we created a new variation you could pair with last week’s workout. This workout consists of 4 circuits. Do one set of the first exercise in the first circuit, then one set of the next exercise, and then one set of the third exercise. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes, and then repeat the circuit. Once you complete all the sets in a circuit, then move on to the next circuit and repeat the process. These workouts can all be done with just your body weight, or you can do a weighted version, whether by adding dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells or by throwing on a rucksack, weighted backpack, or weight vest.

Circuit 1

1a. Single-leg hip raise: 10-20 reps

1b. Step-up: 10-20 reps

1c. Squat: 12-15 reps

Circuit 2

2a. Bent-over row (backpack, dumbbell, barbell, T-bar, etc): 10-20 reps

2b. Pushups or chest press : 10-25 reps per side

2c. Inverted row, pullups, or Superman bodyweight row: 8-15 reps

Circuit 3

3a. Reverse lunges: 12-15 reps/leg

3b. T-pushups: 8-20 reps/side

3c. Inchworm: 8-15 reps

Circuit 4

4a. Lying leg raises: 10-20 reps

4b: Bird dog: 10 reps/side

4c. Seated Twist: 30 seconds

Personalize your workout

Beginners: Do the lower number of reps and 2 sets of each exercise

Intermediate: Do the lower or higher number of reps and 3 to 4 sets of each exercise

Advanced: Do the higher number of reps and 5 to 6 sets of each exercise

Remember, as Arnold mentioned in this week’s Monday Motivation, don’t overthink this. If you only have 15 or 30 minutes, do 1 to 2 sets, and start with what you have time for. Give it a try, and let us know what you think. Here’s wishing you all a fantastic week ahead!

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell