No, the title is not a Star Trek reference.
This post is about a modern-world reality that is bringing us down.
I am officially on a social media vacation. Not posting on Twitter (I no longer have a Twitter account, so that’s a permanent vacation), Facebook, or Instagram. Why the vacation? Because someone a, well, little more objective, suggested a vacation instead of my desire which was to shut down the whole enchilada—the question remains as to what I’ll do when April rolls around.
Until then (and trust me, my social media vacation is COMPLETELY related to this week’s post)…
Think about all the things in the health/happiness realm that we resist for the purpose of, in theory, maintaining and improving our own health and happiness…
- Junk food—candy, cookies
- A strong desire NOT to workout
- Stress in the workplace
- Stress at home
Wait, am I saying we should just not resist junk food and instead eat more of it, and, for that matter, sit on the couch more, get stressed out at work more, and fight with our families more?
Why yes…of course I’m saying that.
What I am saying is that one of my main areas of focus is on the stress generated in proportion to how much we resist and how that relates to our overall stress.
Because when our overall stress increases, we tend to be more vulnerable to the very things we’re trying desperately NOT to do. The very things we’re trying to resist. In other words—this morning, when we spent a ton of effort resisting the donuts that Neil brought into the office (that’s SO Neil), we may have actually increased our chances of eating the dang donuts. We wear ourselves down and then, all bets are off as to what can happen.
Here’s what I think: The key to a happy and healthy life is to spend more time thinking about what you do truly want, not what you don’t truly want. To learn how to let go so as to live better.
Spend our time and energy resisting and guess what happens: we spend our time and energy resisting.
I know. It ain’t brain surgery.
As odd as it sounds, it’s worth experimenting with resisting less of the so-called ‘bad things.’
Couple things on this front:
- My approach is long-term (and I mean life-long). Meaning that while resisting less may mean initially eating a few too many cookies, you’ll gain more time and energy to devote to thinking about who you truly are (e.g. someone who is in control of how many cookies he/she eats) and the life you want to be living.
- By using up less mental real estate on resistance, you can actually ask yourself whether or not you want the dang cookies. Often we’re so consumed with the battle, that we forget that we just might be OK with having a cookie once in a while—interestingly, by removing this weight from our shoulders, we’re actually increasing the chances that we won’t over-indulge. Less self-pressure, less stress. Less stress, better decision making.
Over the years, I’ve had clients (and now smallsteppers.com members) come to me with a self-described ‘problem’ with junk food.
My (surprising) response?
“For now, eat the junk food. We’re not there yet.”
My message to them, and to you? Stop resisting. All that additional energy expenditure is often wasted and leads to burn out. The very burnout that will result in doing even more of the behavior you’re desperately trying not to do.
It’s no surprise we don’t thrive under acute stress. It’s no surprise our health goes down as stress goes up. And it’s hopefully no big surprise that during times of low/manageable stress, we make better decisions—decisions that are in line with who we are and that improve our lives.
Trying to fashion a life where you try super hard to avoid all stress is not the answer.
What is the answer?
Give in to the fact that stress will come again, and do the best you can to prepare yourself for when it does.
In other words, spend more time and energy on self-care during all the other, non-stressful times.
So, for now, go a little nutty nut nut with the cookies, and when you’re finished, take a little jaunt over here to this little ‘thexercise’ (‘thexercise’ = thought-exercise. You heard it here first):
- Did I really want those cookies?
- Did they make me feel good/Did I really enjoy them?
- If I were calm and in a good mood, would I have eaten that many or any?
- Is there something I can do to improve my state of mind such that I increase my chances of being calm and in a good mood next time Stupid Neil brings cookies?
Good to know.