Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Half-way!

It’s tempting to concoct some major breakthrough or benefit I’ve gained from this 100-day experiment so far. The truth is the benefits have been subtle.

For example, I bought at box of donuts last night, and I ate just one. I consciously savored every bite. And I was content. The old me would have binged unconsciously, eating 3 or 4 donuts and tasting just a few bites at best. What’s most surprising though is that this new way of eating was not an effort. It was simply a conscious choice.

Another example: All week I’ve been working on a writing job. At the beginning of the week I was lost. My first draft was shit and I had no idea how to make it better. But again, I made a relatively simple and conscious choice. This time it was the choice to believe that if I put in the time every day, the writing would have to improve. And here I am, approaching the end of the week, and the draft I have now is so much better. I can even envision it being great.

It would be misleading to say that change is just a matter of choice. What I’m learning is that change and choice go hand in hand. As you make new choices, you begin to change. And as you change, new choices become easier.

Update

Here’s a tally of the first 50 days:

5010 pushups (100% on track)
460 pullups (92% on track)
766 burpees (102% on track)
2.5 hrs plank (100% on track)

Advertisements

When it comes to making conscious choices, the question arises: What standard will I use to guide my choices?

The one I’ve currently been exploring is the “follow your excitement” model. (Joseph Campbell’s version was “follow your bliss”.) In other words, I strive to choose the option that brings me the most joy.

But by that standard, wouldn’t we all just choose pizza or masturbation most of the time? As attractive as those options might be in any given moment, that’s not the kind of life I want. So I need go deeper than simply immediate gratification / hedonism.

Consider this phenomenon: I sometimes find that I resist doing certain things that, once I’m doing them, I genuinely enjoy. Just a few examples:

  • Writing
  • Going for a walk
  • Meeting up with friends
  • Working out
  • Sitting in meditation (especially near water)

I genuinely enjoy these things, yet I resist doing them. For example, it’s very rare that I find myself saying, “You know what I’m really excited to do? Write!” Yet, not 10 minutes into a writing session and I’m typically enjoying myself and happy I made the choice.

How do I explain that? Where do those options fit into this model of “follow your excitement”?

I think it comes down to one’s answer to the following question: Do you think of your options as events or paths? Or to use a mathematical metaphor, do you think of each option as a data point or a vector?

If you think of your options as singular events that are unconnected to what comes next, then following your excitement could likely mean choosing the most hedonistic options that bring instant gratification.

But if you think of your options as paths or vectors, then following your excitement means choosing options you may or may not enjoy initially, but you do enjoy from a wider frame of reference.

The question that remains is this: Why in the world would we resist things initially that we ultimately enjoy?

I think it has to do with one’s current belief system. In other words, I may have an unconscious rule or judgment that makes the idea painful when the actual experience is enjoyable. Thinking about doing it is harder than actually doing it.

In the case of writing, the rule could be something like “I should only write when I feel inspired” or the belief something like “I’m not a good writer.”

I find that I can get around this resistance with the question, “Have I ever regretted making this choice?” For most of the things on my list above, the answer is an emphatic “No!” I’ve never regretted writing, going for a walk, meeting with friends, working out, or sitting in meditation.

Now back to the question of how to follow my excitement…

I think the answer is in the word “follow.” It implies a path, not an end point.

So my standard to guide my choices is this: Follow the path of joy.

Update

Here’s my tally as of June 10:

4107 pushups (100% on track)
324 pullups (79% on track)
619 burpees (100% on track)
2 hrs plank (98% on track)
1.37 hrs sitting meditation (17% on track)

Starting today, I will be Facebook-free for the rest of June.

It’s not like I was on Facebook all of the time. I don’t get notifications on my phone or anything like that. But I noticed that time was leaking out of my day. An hour here, an hour there. For what?

Then yesterday while driving to spend a sunny afternoon at the pool, I caught myself three times in a 10-minute span thinking, “I should post that to Facebook.” WTF?

What’s amazing is that it hasn’t even been half a day and I’m already experiencing a higher level of energy and focus. There’s also a greater awareness of life. It’s as if my brain is always asking “What’s going on?” but robbed of social media’s virtual “reality” to answer that question, it’s starting to look at the physical reality that surrounds me.

It’s also affecting my sense of identity. Now when I’m alone, I’m simply me. I’m not friend Curtis, I’m just Curtis. I’m no longer seeing myself in the context of how I’m reacting to what others are doing or posting about. I’m seeing myself in the context of how I’m responding to my physical surroundings.

That’s what has surprised me the most so far: How different life can feel when you change the context.

I’m loving this conscious choice to step away from social media for a few weeks. It will be fun to see what my perspective is on July 1.

Day 37: Happy and sad

I’ve been thinking more about how much my relationship to the question “How are you?” has changed…

A year or two ago, I was wondering aloud to a friend just how much a person could expect to change. What if people just are who they are? What if I’m sad because I’m a sad person? Maybe I should just accept that and stop fighting it.

My friend thought for a moment.

“Well, then be the happiest sad person you can be.”

The irony was liberating. What are these definitions of happy and sad anyway? So I chose to be the happiest sad person I could be.

And now as I start to notice how much I’ve changed, it makes me wonder… Am I becoming a happy person after all?

The possibility excites me.

Day 35: How are you?

I greeted a friend/client today with a sincere “How are you?”

She commented that she was surprised to hear me ask that question. For a moment I was confused, but then I remembered. A few years ago she and I had talked about how uncomfortable I was with that question, especially when it was directed at me. I so often felt sad, lonely, and/or stressed that I didn’t like to even think about how I was, let alone admit it to others. And I didn’t like to lie with a superficial, “I’m good. How are you?” It got to the point where the question caused me actual anxiety in social situations.

Today I suddenly realized I’d changed. Personal growth sometimes happens so slowly, it’s invisible. It takes a friend who maybe we haven’t seen in a while to mirror the contrast back to us.

I’m amazed. The me back then would have never believed that I’d be at peace (relatively so) with how I am. I write this blog post today to document this change.

Update

Here’s a tally of my first month (as of May 31):

2832 pushups (91% on track)
181 pullups (58% on track)
465 burpees (100% on track)
1.56 hrs plank (101% on track)

I expect to be caught up on pushups in the next week or two, pullups by the end of June. I’ve also begun sitting for meditation, which will become a greater focus in this second month. I rock!

Day 22: Loneliness

In my research on weight-loss, I discovered that loneliness is one of the biggest risk factors for weight gain. So it’s no surprise to me that when I feel lonely (often), I crave comfort foods (often).

What prompted me to write this post today is that I was just now feeling low energy and a bit discouraged with my lack of progress on some projects. So I chose to let myself feel those feelings. And a sadness came over me to the point of tears. Why am I crying? And the answer was clear. I’m lonely. And my next thought was: Go get junk food and/or beer. But I know that’s not a sustainable solution. Fuck it, who cares anyway? It doesn’t matter.

And so loneliness becomes hopelessness. Loneliness is my trigger for hopelessness.

The other side of this is that even when I’m with people, I often struggle to be present with them. Some people are very easy for me to engage with, to feel connected and present with. But with others, I get lost in my head no matter how strong my intention to be present is. I feel separate from them, and lonely even in their company.

On a related note, I’ve been neglecting the sitting meditation component of this 100-day experiment. Until today, that is. I sat for 10 minutes this morning. It’s time to emphasize my practice of presence, by myself (through sitting meditation) and with others.

I will also make an effort to socialize more regularly. And I will schedule more of my writing sessions outside of my house, at the library or at the coffee shop.

Update

My focus is clear and I’m doing well. Physically, I have a plan to get current with my goals. I’m all caught up with burpees (225/225) and making great progress with pushups (1100/1500), pull-ups (81/150), and plank (26 min / 45 min).

I haven’t practiced a whole day of “What if I…?” yet but I’m using it periodically throughout any given day to widen my perspective. I do intend to schedule a full day of inquiry soon.

Riding the Wave

Monday and Tuesday were doosies. For much of that time I was lost in a fog of hopelessness. All that seemed real was how far I am from where I want to be. An illusion, of course, but it held me under its spell for almost two full days.

I have practices I know I can use to create different states of being; I have people I know I can reach out to who support me unconditionally. But that’s the mind-fuck of hopelessness. What’s the point of any of it? Nothing matters, yada, yada, yada.

Wednesday I woke, and the fog had lifted. I didn’t “do” anything to cause that change. My feelings simply evolved to a higher state.

The sense of relief was two-fold. First, the weight of hopelessness was gone. I felt free and flowing. My actions had meaning, life had value again. (Also an illusion, by the way.)

Second, I felt free of the responsibility for my state of being. I didn’t have to do anything to feel better. I simply waited for a change: This too shall pass.

Yes, I can make choices that affect how I feel — and I do believe we are powerfully creative creatures that can control how we experience life. I value responsibility in the most empowering sense of the word: response-ability, our ability to respond. And at the same there are waves that we ride, up and down, and sometimes we don’t need to try so hard.

Sometimes it’s enough to be patient. Just as suddenly as it disappeared, hope can suddenly and magically reappear.

The trick, of course, is remembering to appreciate this period of peacefulness, this time of hope — while it lasts. This too shall pass…