Then there was my health. I'd been trying to lose weight for years, and I'd had some success, but at the expense of my happiness (and my bank account). I dutifully joined a gym and then stopped going. Because that wasn't a big enough source of shame, I spend more money to join another—and didn't go there, either. I finally let myself admit that I hated boot camp classes and pounding along a treadmill, so I quit and sign up for $12 Greek dancing lessons. I got back in the pool and swam laps, giving my body a taste of weightlessness. I also stopped counting the calories in blueberries. I threw out my scale. The result: I dropped four dress sizes. When I focused on pleasure in other areas of my life, I had less time to think about food and more desire to get up and move. And it wasn't torture—it was fun.
Once I stopped wasting energy on things I didn't want to do, I suddenly had headspace for all those things I used to say I didn't have time for, like a love life. The idea of dating—the thought of losing my independence, letting someone else see my imperfections—really scared me. But I pushed past the fear and created a profile on EligibleGreeks.com, the Match.com for Greek people. The first man who e-mailed me and didn't seem completely crazy lived across the country in Southern California. There was a time when I would have let his message wither in my in-box. (He's from L.A.! Long distance never works! He wears those weird wraparound sunglasses!) But this time I wrote back.
We traded messages for a month, and then an unexpected work trip brought me to L.A. (Side note: When you invest in your happiness, the universe has a way of matching your contributions.) We planned to meet for dinner; I planned to have no expectations. But once I got over my initial nervousness, I talked more easily with him than I had with anyone I'd met in years. The night went so well, he asked me to extend my trip.
Our story didn't have a fairy-tale ending, but no matter. I had taken a risk and learned that if I needed to, I could get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Even more important, I realized something I think I'd known all along: "I'm not made of money, and neither is my happiness". And I don't need to add to my bank account to invest in my life.
Margarita Bertsos is a writer and editor in New York City.