Choice. Balance. Choice. Balance. Choice. Balance.
Each day comprises a zillion different choices. Each choice we make takes us closer to or farther from our goals. Health: physical, mental, spiritual, social, emotional, financial, professional, creative – that is what I’m after. Having list items that address each of these facets of health is a smart way to achieve or at least approach that holy grail, Balance. If I am a gimmicky sucker for having to be so ploddingly deliberate, outsmarting my own weirdo psychology in order to find it, so be it. To me, it is work worth doing, the better alternative to surrendering to other distractions on offer.
For all the jesting I do about being lazy, why is it so much harder to change myself by inaction than action? I see this in my diet and fitness most clearly. I eat too much, so I exercise more (never seems to go vice versa!), and develop a cycle of frenetic intake and output hoping that the physical effort will absolve me of my excesses. Even if these do occasionally “balance” out, it’s hardly Balance, and it certainly isn’t moderation. Better to determine the root of the problem and address that (e.g. eating too much gets fixed by eating less) rather than create additional problems through overzealous prescriptions (e.g. exercising 2x as hard and getting shin splints).
This isn’t exactly breakthrough cognitive behavior science, but it’s so much easier to do than to not do. Ok no, it’s not easier to run a marathon than to not run a marathon; I think it is easier (maybe just to Americans? Maybe just to me?) to burn off 250 calories than to not eat them in the first place.
Active resolves, efforts to change behavior that require doing, allow us to distract ourselves with charts and hope and effort. To distract ourselves from the inevitable pain of change. When we try to change our behavior by doing less, we either pick up a new distraction to fill the new void or we face the process change with no dilution. Not for the faint of heart, nor the faint of intent. In a world where we can never manage to do enough, it’s hard to imagine that we should just sit by and passively allow the exorcism of excess.
And yet, that is just what the doctor ordered. It is humbling to see how destructive our best efforts can be. Better to get out of the way, dammit, stop the masochistic overthinking and overdoing, and lower the volume.
Breaking down isn’t fun, but it presents an opportunity: to rebuild. When this happens, there are many tools and instruction manuals at our disposal – it is important to discern which will help be stronger than before and which add no value (or worse). The lessons and the tools and the process and the days and each hour and every conversation and all those articles: the ingredients of a life are worth sifting through and learning from. New combinations lead to new insights lead to new tools lead to a better life.
That’s the WRAP on the Self-Respect Project, folks. I can’t quantify self-respect, so there’s nothing I can point to and say “I improved by this amount!” The whole point was to see if I could pull myself out of the dumps and you know? I think it worked. A month after finishing this project (during which time I’ve been posting here), including long stretches of RAIN, I’m overall functional, productive, and happy. I’m more patient with myself, because I understand myself better. What quiet joy. What a gift to myself, and to people who know me (and therefore have to put up with me.)