Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Reward

Why do you do what you do?  The obvious answer here is for food and shelter.  That’s too easy, you could do many things that would provide enough for the necessities in life.  Why did you choose to do what you spend the majority of your life doing?  Another question, why do you choose to do what you do with your spare time?  Why do you pick the hobbies you have?  For me the answer is pretty straight forward.  It’s for the reward.  The reward is that feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something you’ve worked for.  I’m not talking about easy day to day things.  I’m talking about accomplishing things you’ve struggled with or had to put some effort into.  In a work sense, I love solving big problems and making seemingly complex ideas appear simple and straight forward.  In regards to hobbies, I love the feeling of completing an especially long run or some other physical accomplishment.  As goofy as it sounds and on a smaller scale, finishing mowing the lawn or finishing shoveling snow does the trick.  That sense of accomplishment is an amazing thing.  
I think seeking out that sense of accomplishment is the secret to happiness.  The feeling we’re talking about isn’t something that happens every day, but it is something that we can take steps toward every day.  Taking those steps, being aware of the goal, and being cognizant of the process brings joy.  Knowing that what you’re doing today is part of something you want gives your day purpose.  Having that purpose and being aware of it makes all the difference in my eyes.  That’s what brings about happiness.

I’ve found that taking this viewpoint in figuring out your day is incredibly useful.  For example, this past two weeks I’ve been doing really well with getting out and running.  I’m searching out that feeling of reward.  I’ve also taken this into account at work.  Emails are piling up, requests for help continue to come in, but we’ve got big things we need to accomplish.  I set up my calendar so I can spend some time on those day to day activities that need to be done, but then I also block out time for those big ticket projects that are going to make serious and lasting impact.  When I know some time is going to be spent every day doing something that is going to have that impact, it makes it a little easier to get excited for the day.  In general it makes it a bit easier to get up in the morning knowing that I’m going to take some time early to think about the big things I want to accomplish.  Even if those “big” things are runs or some other seemingly insignificant thing, if it breaks you out of the gravitational pull of complacency, it’s a big thing!   All this isn’t to say that you’re going to make positive progress toward a goal every day.  Some days you’re going to have a bad run or workout.  Some days you’re going to look at a problem and be more confused at the end of the day than you were at the beginning.  Taking that step backwards doesn’t matter.  As long as you look to take the next one after the setback, you’re going to be just fine.  If anything, those steps backward make the reward that much sweeter.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Taming the Monkey Mind...

     
If it were up to me, I’d eat pizza in it’s various forms every day.  Maybe today I’d have it in a “pocket” with an Italian sausage from the hotdog stand down the street.  Tomorrow I’d have it with pepperoni and spinach.  The day after that I’d go deep dish.  The point here is that left to my own devices I’m going to satisfy my monkey mind and go for immediate pleasure, waistline and arteries be damned!  That’s why I’ve spent the last 20 minutes googling and sending recipes to Laura.  As like most of you, we’ve started the new year with our own set of resolutions.  One of those is to eat like we give a damn about ourselves.  I feel like this is a lot easier for Laura, she’s already content eating salads, tofu, and other horrible, horrible things.  The only time she eats bad is when I talk her into it.  I actually sent recipes to turn cauliflower into some god forsaken version of chicken wings and another to use sweet potatoes as toast.  I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore.  Here’s the catch, rational minded Jason knows that he feels way better when he eats like this, he knows that food shouldn’t be used for immediate gratification.  Rational minded Jason also knows that eating until he’s stuffed and uncomfortable shouldn’t be a life goal.  I talk about rational minded Jason in the third person because he also thinks cauliflower could possibly be a substitute for a chicken wing.  Sometimes rational Jason can be an asshole.  Anyway, on any given day I can come up with a million excuses as to why having that extra slice isn’t the worst thing in the world, or why getting those lemon cookies at Jewel is a treat that I deserve.  Immediate satisfaction is so easy!  Now to make this all work, I have given myself one day a week where I get to indulge.  I get to eat whatever I want, no regrets, no guilt.  When that day is done, I’m back to taking the long view.  That day is glorious.  That day also gives me stomach aches, but it’s so worth it.  Granted I’m not even two weeks into this new lifestyle.  See how I did that?  I’m not dieting or depriving myself of anything, I GET to eat all kinds of healthy food during the week.  Oh the things we do to trick ourselves…anyway, I’m not two weeks in and there’s frustration.  There’s frustration for anybody making any sort of substantial change.  The monkey mind likes things easy, back to that whole immediate gratification thing.  The good news is I hope I’m stronger than to give in to the temptations, and hopefully before long when somebody asks me how I’m doing, I won’t immediately respond with STARVING.  Anyway, don’t give in to whatever cheat, shortcut, or silliness your monkey mind is talking you into and  you too can enjoy cauliflower instead of chicken wings, just like me!