MEASURING HAPPINESS BY CHANGING VALUES

MEASURING HAPPINESS BY CHANGING VALUES— (5 Minute Read)–

TrevorHuffman.com is about getting out of our own comfort zone– in sports, in basketball, in life, in traveling the world on a budget, in building a tribe and winning the small battles to succeed big.

I’ll be sharing my uncomfortable failures and short-lived successes as I solo-slow traveled the world playing professional basketball, or as I design basketball training workouts and practices for ‘THBA ELITE,” my Northern Michigan Basketball Skill Development Academy.

Whether it’s following me get out of my comfort zone sailing the Caribbean or talking about building a vision for success, my mission is to give you more than just basketball tips, but rather the authentic stories of my worst defeats, deafening anxiety and depression, sharing and understanding cultural differences, and the detailed obsession of preparing to win at the highest levels.

Hopefully, this blog can be something athletes, coaches, humans, and parents alike can take something deeper from– something that shows the darker (and lighter) side of what I’ve learned from my experiences.

In the end, how we help each other get to where we want to go is all I care about talking about.

 

Measuring Happiness by Changing Values

Written on April 6th, 2017 in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

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“Here is your cash. Good game. Keep winning,” the Venezuelan GM says. He grins a cheap smile, pops his collar, and sticks out his hand.

I accept what I know is 10,000 dollars in a manilla envelope.

Straight cash? Really? Hell yeah…

I open the envelope. Exhilaration hits and the dopamine spreads through me like crack (for the record, I’ve never done crack).

“Thanks. We will keep winning.”

I am suddenly the happiest freaking dude in the world. Seriously, what could make you happier than doing what you love and getting paid to do it?

And so the happiness paradox begins.

The next day the alarm clock hits me early. My body is sore and it’s time to get to work. I’m back to two-a-days. I’m back to morning track workouts and evening practices.

Where’s the dopamine now?

Where’s that happiness?

I want that happy feeling again, but it’s gone.

Three weeks later, I get fired and fly back from Caracas, Venezuela embarrassed and heartbroken. Another bad job. Another failed season. I hit an all-time low. I am 24 years old and decide it’s time to stop playing basketball for awhile. Instead, I turn to something I’ve never done.

Partying.

And for awhile, it helps. I forget the pain. The unhappiness. But in the meantime, I gain 35 pounds of fat, stop caring about basketball and constantly want people to stop talking to me about how lucky I am to do what I love.

I didn’t feel lucky when I was measuring my happiness with the wrong measuring stick. But I was young and when you are young, you tend to do stupid stuff.

It’s just that simple.

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Being young doesn’t matter as much as self-awareness does. My self-worth and happiness went up and down like the stock market. One day, I’m up. The next game, I’m down. Do I measure happiness in my life by points scored? By salary earned? By games won or lost?

If you do fall into this trap, it’s a short-sighted, unfulfilling way to live.

If I had continued to measure my professional basketball life with only external basketball success as my metric, I would have never been satisfied, happy, or peaceful from day to day. And I think a lot of competitive athletes (or just humans) fall into measuring their life by the wrong values. By using the wrong measuring sticks. And when we use the wrong measuring sticks for happiness, just like typical American society, we wind up in a rat race with declining happiness levels. We are constantly unfulfilled. We end up using drugs, alcohol, and anything that will give us a high to get us to that next fulfilling high (or happy island).

If I had continued to ride the basketball-success-failure-emotional-roller-coaster, I would have most definitely been in a psychiatric institute a long time ago.

Many high school and college athletes that stop playing go through this when they are done playing and never figure it out.

Dude, it’s over. Your career is over. So stop attaching your happiness and identity to it (as I write about my old career, #hypocrite)!

But changing my values back then took getting fired. It took losing. It took gaining 35 pounds of big ol’ love handles in an eating and drinking depression that lasted four months. It took looking within and figuring out why I really play basketball.

So? How did I do it?

Well first, I wanted to live happier. So I asked myself an internal question: “What do I truly value about playing the game of basketball?”

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My answers: I loved the struggle of winning, the camaraderie of being with teammates, the weight room workouts, the daily expression and practice of my craft, the competition, the will to win, the on-court creativity, the cultural differences of traveling Europe, the skill programming with training, the feeling of a leather ball sliding in between my hands twice a day (usually), and finally, being a teammate with guys from completely different backgrounds.

In the end, this question helped me be aware of what I valued and could start to measure intrinsically about playing the game of basketball.

It helped me be let go of the fleeting trap of valuing money, partying, 10,000 dollars in manilla envelopes, hitting big shots, buying shiny things, big houses, making a good pass, sports cars, winning a big game, and all the popularity from momentary professional (or amateur) basketball success. Not that I had big mansions and sports cars (I still drive my 2007 Hyundai Sonata, yeehhh boyyyyyy), but it seemed like all the professional athletes I knew were talking about the wrong values.

I learned to stop caring about these superficial values (and measuring them) and start measuring values that came from the inside. I started to ask myself, why judge my life by metrics (that I had no control over), metrics that could literally haymaker-gut-punch me into misery?

Well, it’s not for me, I don’t want any part of that rat race, I decided.

Ironically, my own fears, lack of self-awareness, self-worth, and own inadequacy pushed me towards those value traps. It’s kind of like writing this blog. Should I share, should I not share, what if someone thinks I’m soft or a sissy?

The truth is, I am scared to write this blog and share it. What if my grammar sucks (which it does). What if someone laughs at me? What if someone… blah blah blah.

The truth is I write it because it feels good. I learn from writing out my feelings and experiences and seeing my patterns and weaknesses flesh out onto the screen. And it feels good to share my experiences and look at what makes me happy on the inside.

So it’s time. Let’s all hold hands and sing: Kummmm-byeeee-yahhhhh.

If you don’t like singing, guess what, I don’t care.

The truth is, I do hope that I can help people grow and reach their dreams, goals, and self-actualize. If one person reads this or takes one nugget of a sentence they can use to improve their lives from the awkward recesses of my twisted mind, then kudos to them.

It feels good to help people, to have a real impact and the catch is, I enjoy writing this weird life blog anyways, so it’s a win-win.

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While solo-slow travel sailing from Guatemala to Mexico (yes, solo-slow travel sailing is a legit experience, watch my montage there), I thought a lot about happiness, about doing what you love, and learning how to measure the things you love to do in life. I would look into the cosmos at night and wonder why I was alive or how I was connected to all these billions of people around the world.

A thousand miles away, there are people shuffling along dirt roads with no water and no food and still smiling at me.

Yet, when I walk through my own American town, people just put their head down and walk by, disconnected, lost, and most likely, half of them unhappy.

My Caribbean nights star gazing and watching sunrises or sunsets really made me think. I kept finding myself asking, “What are my values now and how am I measuring them?”

I value a sustainable lifestyle, living close to nature, traveling to new places I’ve never been, building a community and tribe of friends that want to push themselves to be healthy, passionate, and take on extreme adventures or projects, helping kids, teams, and people reach their potential (on and off the court) and over-achieve in the process!

So Ask Yourself 3 Happiness / Value Questions:

First, what are your current values and how do you measure them relative to your happiness and once you have those, are these values externally linked (uncontrollables) or internally linked to your happiness?

And second, are these values really giving you happiness or are they just momentary blips on the radar that just raise our brain’s dopamine levels?

Third, are you a valuing crack, kid? Is it time to change your values?

If you aren’t enjoying the daily struggle, the daily ups and downs, maybe it’s time to start asking new questions about what you value or want to do in life. I am not a big cusser (okay, once in awhile it slips out), but this book was interesting to me:

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So okay. We have to change our values. Now what (you ask)?

Maybe you are saying, I still suck at stuff. I am still average at things I care about. Now what? The only thing that will help you find happiness will be figuring out what you value that intersects with your daily struggle to master your craft.

What I demonstrate grit for, what I put effort into surrounding my daily passions, and how deliberately compete, plan, and prepare to win, all feeds my metrics for happiness. It feels good to do it this way for me.

So, just like when I was playing professionally, it’s easy to fall into that trap of measuring success on and off the court with external values that become internal metrics.  I want people to like my game, oh wait, that person doesn’t like my game.

Unhappy.

But who cares about that person, you don’t know them. They don’t know you.

Or you say I want to be a dedicated All-State basketball player, but wait, every time you try to work hard and sacrifice to get better, your classmates, your friends, even your family laugh at you or question why you are doing it.

Again, once you care enough about something, that quote above makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it?

This is just like starting a business. Just like being an All-State pitcher. A better parent. A better business owner. Or maybe you are quitting a BS job and self-actualizing a new life goal.

The list goes on and on.

Find a craft (passion) you love and then start measuring your happiness by internal standards you set for yourself to enjoy that struggle of winning in your craft.

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If you value swimming with whale sharks, then do it as much as you can! (From Islands.com)

 

After my long months of darkness, anxiety, and depression, and comfort eating, I had to take stock of what I could control in my life. Just like now. As my Caribbean sailing adventure in Isla Mujeres, Mexico came to a close, I am reminded of how lucky I was to reflect on my current values.

Who knows. Then again, maybe I’ll be a broke beggar writing and living on a beach that teaches, develops, and helps kids (and adults) make a better, happier, more fulfilling life.

Maybe one day, by sharing our experiences, and lending a hand, our world, communities, and tribes will grow closer and we can all help each other self-actualize to reach our potential.

And better, I’m sure I’ll find more happiness moment to moment in that struggle.

Good luck out there.

TrevorHuffman.com

MY TOP 5 THINGS I’M USING FOR ATHLETE SUCCESS IN THBA ELITE BASKETBALL:

  • Doing 1 on 1 Basketball Moves on these bands. Talk about getting more explosive and your heart rate up. These will absolutely make you more explosive, lower your shoulder, and work on explosive starts / stops with a basketball in your hand. Work on defensive slides or linear speed. Your choice. I use these bands at the start of my practices to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers for speed before fatigue sets in later.
  • My favorite raw organic plant based protein bars. These things are like Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. Freeze them. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter, they are that good. And better they are nutrient rich and are made with Chia and Flaxseed, which is rich in Omega 3’s, I feel good about them and have stayed at 185 pounds, which isn’t easy for me.
  • I love to train, shoot, workout and do speed/agility/conditioning in heavier shoes than I play or compete in. These Air Jordan basketball shoes are heavy as heck! When I go from practice to game shoes, it may be a placebo effect, but it’s like going from cushioned running shoes to running flats on a track. Lighter, faster, quicker. All day!
  • My favorite thing is making nutrient-rich smoothies every day. I mix in spinach, kale, avocados, or anything that is a vegetable, green, and doesn’t have a ton of sugar. Then I mix these organic raw protein powders with espresso, peanut butter, and ice.

The 1st Secret of Basketball

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“The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.”– Bill Russell

THBA on Winning Championships: The 1st Secret of Basketball

(three part series- 10 min read)

 

In the summer of 1994, I was 15, weighed 120 pounds, and figured out the secret to winning basketball championships after almost throwing fists at my best friend (and teammate’s) face. After that day, these basketball secrets spread into who I was during my high school, college, and professional teams. That day made me sit down and think about what winning meant to me. I may have forgotten a few (there was my 6th grade recreational championship, but I left that one out), but I counted over 12 high school, college, and professional championship teams that I’ve been a part of. Yet, these basketball secrets grow from within and over time, like a slow rising tide start to become part of who you are, part of the team’s identity, and the feeling is undeniable.

Isiah Thomas referred to one of these basketball secrets in a meeting he had with Bill Simmons in the Book of Basketball. He said, referring to why his Piston’s teams won championships: “…Cause everybody does something good. That’s what makes us good… we created an environment that won’t accept losing.” See, in my opinion, winning in basketball isn’t only about basketball. It’s about you and your teammates. It’s about chemistry. It’s the family atmosphere that despises laziness and bad work ethic and unauthentic players. It’s why teams and coaches like Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs have won so many titles. They get basketball players that have high character, know their role, and check their egos out at the door.

Championship teams can’t be built without players that understand human nature and are self-aware of their egos.

But where do you start in building championship caliber teams and programs?

Start with yourself.

Start with caring.

Start with being authentic in every encounter you have with anyone on your team from this point on.

If you start with yourself and you care, you are off to a great start.

Bill Russell used to throw up before big games. Caring is why players throw up,  it’s why certain players can’t watch certain losses after their season is over and why championship teams always have a bond and feeling that remains intact for decades. It’s why I still haven’t watched my Elite Eight game loss against Indiana (this is actually my Sweet Sixteen win, see, I won’t even let you see it!) or my loss in the Michigan Final Four in high school to Marshall. It’s why I would shut my eyes for 30 minutes before every game and try to visualize giving everything I had to win the game and execute our game-plan and ask for guidance from the Universe (God, higher power, whatever you label it) instead of vomiting into the toilet.

It all starts with you caring.

And when you care, you are starting on a good foundation, but it takes more than just caring to create championships. So let’s talk about that, because we all want to win. I’m going to break down my three basketball secrets so you can do your part to help bring a championship to your team or program.

BASKETBALL SECRET #1: BE AUTHENTIC, BE SELF-AWARE OF YOUR EGO, AND UNDERSTAND HUMAN NATURE AFTER YOU WIN

 

Pat Riley talks about “The Disease of More” and it refers to process NBA teams and players go through when they win titles and the change in psychology that happens after success comes to you. I had to learn the hard way after winning the championship title in one of the biggest Gus Mackers in the world (Belding, Michigan) as a 14-year old teenager.  We came back the next year and “The Disease of More” had started to seep into me. And that’s just it, it’s human nature to expect more after winning.

More shots. More newspaper clippings. More popularity. More ego. More attention from your classmates and the kids that are labeled “cool” at school. But I learned that summer, (rather quickly) that the secret to winning championships isn’t always about basketball talent or athleticism, it is about understanding human nature and then being self-aware of your ego WANTING MORE.

So let’s rewind to our Gus Macker title defense when I learned this lesson. My teammate Johnny was a better scorer than me. He could shoot from anywhere. He was relentless in his accuracy and creativity around the hoop. But I wanted to squabble over who was better, who could score more, who could do this or that better. I wanted to prove it to him, to our teammates, to anyone that asked, and to myself. Basically, my ego wanted to be known. It wanted to be stroked. It wanted to be told it was better.

It wanted more.

Right before the game started, as we argued on the court about who was better, who could score more, right before I threw a haymaker, his mother stopped us, yelling, “What are you two doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

I put my head down and walked off the court. Fifteen minutes later, still humiliated, we tried to pull it together and play our game.

We got smashed.

Our title defense looked like Jordan’s Bulls whipping on the Charlotte Hornets without Larry Johnson or Alonzo Mourning and worse, this was a classic case of Riley’s “The Disease of More.”

It was the disease of me and the disease of more.

"Detroit Country Day's Shane Battier against Petosky in a March 13, 1997 game."

There I am(#24) chasing Mr. Basketball, Detroit Country Day’s Shane Battier against my team Petoskey in our Final Four loss on March 13, 1997 game.

Yet, losing can shine the light on growth and self-awareness. And as I was watching ego self destruct team chemistry, I quickly realized that winning took precedence over everything.

On the ride home, watching the highways unwind out my window, I thought about Johnny’s strengths, about mine, and the rest of the team’s. Johnny was higher up on the food scoring pyramid. No if’s, ands, or buts about it. He was just a better scorer than me. Little did I know, he would be one of three players to go onto score over 2,000 points in high school and college.

Maybe Shane Battier did that as well?

Who knows (lucky for me, four years after our Gus Macker loss, I got to guard Mr. Basketball Battier in the Michigan Final Four of my junior year, eh hem, we held him to single digits, but he had the flu, so much to my chagrin, we can’t take full credit for that defensive effort).

My teammate Johnny and I went onto to fully realize our full potential (as well as our team’s potential). We won three league championships, three district championships, three regional championships, and had two final four appearances. Now, we didn’t win the ultimate goal of a state championship, but we were one of the only Northern Michigan teams to ever have that much success.

This happened again in my college career.

And again in my pro career.

And every year, after winning championships, I would have to reflect and look for that ego finding a way in. And every time I thought about wanting more, I started to reflect and utilize my self-awareness. Was I rationalizing for my ego? Was I being greedy? Was I doing enough to make my team better? Myself better?

With letting go of my own ego, of wanting more for myself at the expense of the team, I gave up “The Disease of Me” and got more winning and team success in return. And the funny thing about winning is that you get more individual accolades this way. Ironic isn’t it? That when you actually focus on the team success, you actually get more individual success.

And this can only happen if your team has a certain chemistry, trust, and bond with your team. This takes authenticity. From you. From others. From accepting differences, but never accepting losing or poor effort.

If someone got out of line, a leader on the team spoke up.

If you are wondering how to create team chemistry for your team, start with authenticity and letting go of your ego.

Go first. Be the change you want to see in others.

Rebound for someone.

Play one on one.

Fall 2016: Trevor Huffman Traverse City Basketball Training-Camps-Workouts

TrevorHuffman.com

If you are the coach, bring in your leaders. Make them set the tone and make it expected that losing is unacceptable and that anything less than 100% is unacceptable. Make that your culture. Ensure team building and opportunities for your team to grow outside the court. Take them on a trip. Show them a new city against a new team. Take them to Europe in the summer.

Are you the leader of the team?

Demand them to make the extra pass and demand the same in return.

Only accept 100% effort from yourself in every drill and workout, and then demand the same from your teammates.

Talk to them.

Ask them to pick it up.

And in the end,  when you are authentic, you are aware of your ego, and you don’t allow human nature to creep in after your have success, you can focus on what really matters.

Winning. And being part of a team that cares so much about one another, words are hard to describe the bond that develops.