It’s been a good week.
I feel in control. I’ve been keeping my goals. And I’m happy.
It’s getting easier to do the things I need to do, and I’m learning that it makes such a difference in my relationships and my general quality of life.
But I also know how quickly I can fall back into bad habits.
I’m hoping if I can keep reminding myself that the small things really make a difference, that I’ll keep doing them-even when I don’t feel like it.
I’ve been reading a book called “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal-and it’s really been helping to put things into perspective, and to learn a little more about why I do the self destructive things that I do.
I rarely spend my time reading books from the “self help” category. I’m much more inclined to lose myself in a zombie or apocalypse novel-but this one has some information that really makes sense for me.
The first step of the course is just to pay attention.
I’m noticing how often I’m prone to go through life just doing the things I need to do, reacting to impulses without really thinking about the long term consequences or how I will feel about my decisions after the fact.
I’m also learning that will-power is something that I have the power to improve, if I put the work into it.
This week I decided to just give myself a few small goals, and I’m noticing that it’s making me more aware of all the choices I make throughout the day.
For instance… this week I set myself the lofty goal of going on a short walk during my lunch break. This week has been cold and some days, my instinct was to just lay down and close my eyes.
But every day, I’ve put on my tennis shoes, put Stevie Ticks on a leash, and headed out with the promise that if I feel like coming home after ten minutes-I will.
Every day after ten minutes, I felt like walking longer.
I’ve also been consciously trying to bring my attention back to what I’m doing, which is not something I’m used to.
I’m no master at it yet, but I find that even a few times a day- consciously bringing my attention to the stores I’m passing or the lyrics of the song I’m listening to, is helping me to stay present all day long. I think yoga is helping a lot with that.
In 90 minutes of a bikram yoga class, you have no choice but to really think about the position your body is in and keeping your breath even. I can tell that it’s giving me strength, both physically and mentally. It’s teaching me that I can do things that are difficult. That the difficult or uncomfortable feeling will only last for a few minutes-and afterword-the feeling of accomplishment is greater than the feeling of refraining from doing something that is difficult.
I know I’m waxing a bit philosophical and getting all healthy-mind guru on you, but I’m actually really excited about the change I feel.
The other thing I’ve taken away from this book and this week, is that while making and keeping goals is important in the long run, it’s also important to take it a easy on myself.
I know that sounds contradictory, but Science proves that willpower is a muscle and it takes energy, a lot of energy to make it work.
The more you exercise the will power to eat healthy or exercise or not spend money, the more likely you are to impulsively buy a lottery ticket or eat a whole cake.
It takes time to strengthen the muscle, and it’s important to cut yourself a little slack. Plus, giving yourself a little (or medium) slice of cake, will make you much less likely to binge later-plus you learn to enjoy it for what it is.
Today, make the goal of enjoying the little things. Be present in your actions. Do one thing that you don’t necessarily want to do, but that will benefit you in the long run.