An Odd Experience at the Gym This Morning

Photo of a person standing in the middle of an empty road

Something odd happened to me this morning.

Right now, I’m in Dallas for my book tour for Better Than BeforeI was in the gym, walking on the treadmill, when suddenly I felt something shift in my personality.

The experience lasted about twenty seconds.

It was like a dial turned inside me. Or like the chips of glass inside a kaleidoscope made a new pattern.

I was still myself, but somehow in different proportions. I felt, for that moment, what it would be like to be…different. More light-hearted, more easy-going.

One fact about me is that I’m intense. There’s a relentlessness to my nature. And I don’t mind that. My discipline is my freedom. My sister Elizabeth tells me that I’d make a good monk. I’m an Upholder, and I love being an Upholder! Even though I recognize the downsides to it.

But for just a minute, for some reason, I felt like a different person. Then I snapped back to normal.

Something like this has happened to me once before. A few years ago, I was walking down Lexington Avenue, and suddenly I felt all my ambition vanish. It was as if I’d been carrying a heavy backpack for decades, and suddenly it slid off my back. I’d never consciously realized it before, but I have a voice in my head constantly saying, “Did you…?” “Should you…?” “Could you…?” For a moment, it was shut off, and then it returned.

And that was what I felt, this morning. I experienced myself as if I were just a little bit different. It was odd, and exhilarating, and a little sad. It would be fun to be less relentless! And yet I must Be Gretchen.

This is the music that was playing when it happened — Rachel Portman’s Main Theme from the soundtrack of the movie Chocolat. I guess it set off some kind of unexpected response.

Also, for a writer, having a new book out makes everything feel very heightened, so I’m sure that also contributed to it.

Have you ever had an experience like this? It was very odd. For a moment, I was someone different. Not very different, but different nevertheless.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

DISCOVER MORE

Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.