I came across this great article on “change” this week (side-note: this site is fantastic).
It got me thinking about my list of, “Things I Say I am Going To Do.” I think of myself as a fairly successful person. I’ve made choices and decisions in my life that some may consider risky, and I’ve landed on my two feet 99% of the time. When I was 22 years old, I quit my job, packed my bags and bought a plane ticket and moved across the country to a city where I didn’t know a soul. I didn’t have a job, a place to live, or my family or friends around. I am a fortunate and privileged person, and I understand that holds a lot of the merit in my success, but I did it nonetheless, and I made it work. (Disclaimer: I by no means think this is a particularly difficult thing to do, but it could have gone awry in many ways and didn’t.)
However, it is super difficult for me to make seemingly small changes in my life at times. How can this be? How can I make simple decisions that lead my life in a fortunate direction, yet I can’t sit down every day and do a meditation. Sure I do yoga and a short meditation most days, but why can’t I sit for longer?
After reading through the “6 Keys to Change” article I felt inspired. I think about change often, as I am focused on personal development, but I am not often successful with making simple changes. The section of the article that resonated the most for me was Competing Commitments. When I get home from work and I’m hungry and tired, my commitment to vegging out and eating food battles with my commitment to go straight to the gym. Some of the time I am successful, but some times I am not . . . and that is not the commitment that I strive for.
When I was contemplating this phenomena in my life, it made me think about this great Ted Talk I watched quite awhile ago by Dan Gilbert on Happiness. He speaks on how faulty we as human beings are at understanding what makes us happy. He gives an example of the measurement of how “happy” lottery winners and paraplegics are a year after they win millions of dollars or lose functionality of their lower extremities. One year later, the brain perceives the exact same level of happiness.
The point he makes revolves around our ability to synthesize happiness. We have the ability to be happy. Sure our external circumstances are not predictable, but we can decide how we allow ourselves to feel about it in most cases. This is something that my dear Mother raised me to remember. Life is about decisions, you can decide on how you will deal with, and feel about, a situation.
Being aware of this should enable me to make the choice that I strive for, but I falter so many times because I seek the instant gratification of the easy solution far too easily. We live in a time where seemingly instant gratification is so accessible. While I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying impermanence (studying not through Wikipedia, but through Buddhist texts and teachings), I’m often not mindful of it when I should be . . . realizing that feelings of discomfort will pass and that the instant stimulation of streaming netflix will pass, so on and so on.
I am hopeful that I will me mindful of the information available to me, on how “change,” actually works for our brains and our minds. I need to scale back on the number of changes I say that I will make at one time; there are far too many, and I set myself up for failure and for feelings of guilt by piling them on.
This week I am going to work on one thing from the list instead of stewing over the entire list and how I’m not doing any of them very well (or at all).
It’s almost March, which is a transitional month. I feel like Spring is on its way, but Winter still lingers (with lots of time for snowshoeing and snowboarding remaining, yay!). I am going to try to focus on a healthy outlook on change, and make it happen.