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Personal Development with Gray Miller

Archive for the tag “practice”

why cheat when you can win

“If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’!”

That sentiment, from one of my favorite close-combat instructors, is an incredibly useful mantra when in a struggle. It’s a reminder that in some situations, the only rules that matter are the ones that matter to you – and that playing by your opponent’s rules is giving them a pretty hefty advantage.

What about when your opponent is yourself, though? What if the battle you are fighting is the battle against binge eating, for example, or simply the struggle to eat more healthy in a world full of bad influences and temptations? In that situation, where you’re your own enemy, does cheating work?

lunch

At least it’s not broccoli (shudder!)

Many diets think so. Several years ago I went on the Abs Diet, pretty strictly for several months. Aside from a particular weight/situp regimen, it also has very specific low-carb diet suggestions – some of which have stuck with me (still love snacking on almonds and cranberries!). It also had a “cheat” meal – a meal once a week where you could eat anything you want. I remember planning that meal around my social schedule: “We’re going to have barbecue with Karl thursday night, that’ll be my cheat meal.” I remember looking forward to blissing out on ice cream sundaes on those meals, before grimly resuming my exercise and diet the next day. Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body has a similar timed “cheat” day, and so do many others.

Which is why articles such as this one by Dick Talens (via Maneesh Sethi) exist: The Ultimate Guide to Cheating: Planning to Fail. Don’t worry, you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to, I’ll get to the point.

WORDS. They Have Meaning.

The gist of the article is the idea, backed up by scientific evidence, that two people who “break” their diets in exactly the same way will have entirely different results based on their mindset.

 If you “plan to fail” then you lose anywhere from 1-3 days of progress; however, you eliminate the risk of failing epically.

Failing epically.” Is it just me, or is the hyperbole rising in here? Here’s my question: if these diets are so difficult to maintain that you have to break them on occasion in order not lose them entirely…then is the problem actually with the people on the diet or with the diet itself?

Or, to put it another way: if, in order for the diet to succeed, you have to ignore it every once in a while…why is that cheating? How is that failing?

Or, to actually get to my point: why do we use words like “cheating” and “failing” to describe it? Words are powerful things; if the system is set up so that the only way to “win” is cheating, then there is something wrong with the system. I suppose there could be an argument that there is a mischievous joy in “getting away with it” when you break the rules of the diet – but if we’re trying to play with our brains in that kind of way, why stop at some negative feeling?

“…And therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.” – Sun Tzu

If you choose a route that requires you to cheat, to break, to “plan to fail”, I suppose that can work. Personally, I’d rather look at it as winning. I’m not breaking my diet – I’m planning on celebrating my hard work and discipline in the time-honored human fashion of a feast! Having rewarded my body all week long with healthy eating, I am now going to reward my tongue and every delicious bite of ice-cream-hot-fudge-skittle-truffle-banana-lava-cake will be a reinforcement of just how awesome I am at my diet!

Of course, a truly Enlightened soul wouldn’t be “fighting” the battle at all – which is most of what Sun Tzu actually talked about in The Art of War. But for those of us who still need the illusion of struggle to trick ourselves into right action, I think it’s time to stop playing other people’s games.

Who needs to cheat, when you can just win?

Making Practice Easier by Making It Attractive

SEALs in my Ears and a Spring in my Step

I’m sitting in Boston Logan International Airport, looking out at the cool airplanes from the comfort of a nice wooden rocking chair. Thanks to several of the practices I talked about in the last trip, it’s been a pretty smooth travel day, including productivity like writing an article for a client on distance technology and relationship building as well as taking care of customers from other websites. But it also included listening to two of my favorite podcasts – Dan Carlin’s Common Sense and The Art of Manliness.

The latter had an interview with Mark Divine, creator of SEALfit and author of “The Way of the SEAL.” As you might expect, the guy is a former Navy SEAL, and does a lot of work bringing the SEAL forms of training into the civilian world. Interestingly, he also has apparently consulted with the Navy to bring several Eastern forms of training – meditation, aikido, and yoga, to name a few – into the intake process for SEALs, with positive results.

I Still Hate Yoga

And it’s for the usual reasons – as Jess over at Dirty Yoga would say, I can’t figure out how to win. But even though I’m a former jarhead, I admit that occasionally the SEALs have some pretty good moves*. Hearing that part of their situational awareness training designed for the most covert, the most dangerous, the most totally-outta-hand missions is to do some downward dog and camel’s pose while breathing deeply into their d’an dien suddenly has me impatient for my own next session.

While I am constantly a student of becoming self-aware, I am also a product of my culture, conditioned by my upbringing with certain mythic resonations such as the SEAL. When I was twelve, that meant I created “The Star Wars Workout” with Han Solo Pushups and Jedi Balance Moves and the like (my parents were quite indulgent). Now it’s a little more graceful and hidden, but you can bet that when I next lift my spine and try not to re-invent Fallen Tree Pose I will be, on some level, imagining that I am doing the same exercise that the fiercest warriors of my time do.

Whatever Works

Am I really going to become a SEAL doing yoga? Of course not. But I will benefit from doing yoga, and if imagining the SEALs doing it gets me on the mat, that’s a good thing.

So whatever that thing is you wish you did more of – writing, maybe? – try to find out who else does it. There’s probably some person, some career, some archetype that you can latch in on. You can borrow their strength to help you through your own personal journey, and the burden of building a habit will be that much lighter.

A Seal and a Yogi on the beach

Ritual is Easy; Routine is Hard

In Search of the Mundane

Today while listening to The Simple Life Together podcast, I heard an interesting definition of routine vs. ritual. The idea was that routines are made up of habits, and habits, as we know, require no thought – they are the reason I still tend to get off on the John Nolan Drive exit even though I no longer live anywhere near there. I did it so many years that it now takes conscious thought not to do it.

Habits are great if they’re good for you. Exercise. Brushing your teeth. Saving money. If you can get to the point where you’re doing these things automatically, you end up with a routine that, common wisdom dictates, will keep your quality of life pretty high.

Once you’ve gotten to the point of a good routine, the hosts of the podcast posited, you can pick and choose what parts to turn into a ritual – that is, the things you do with a more mindful presence, turning it into a tool for a deeper experience of life.

Yeah, that’s right: you work to do it without thought, so that you don’t even notice it, in order to reach the point where it can completely occupy your thoughts and have it totally occupy your senses.

Might be a little circuitous, but basically that’s the idea behind “enlightenment” in many cultures. There’s a zen proverb that goes something like “before awareness, mountains are mountains and streams are streams. Upon reaching satori, mountains are no longer mountains and streams are no longer streams. Afterwards, mountains are once again mountains and streams are once again streams.”

Whew! Things go back to being the same. Except, like a lot of situations in your life, everything is different, as well.

My question is: what happens when your life has lots of ritual and not enough routine?

I’m about to go off on another extended trip – conventions in Baltimore and Provo, plus some side trips to visit friends. It’s not likely I’ll spend more than a week in the same bed, much less have the same schedule. There will be late nights, there will be lots of driving, there will be haphazard meals from the vastly overprepared to scrounging out of vending machines.

How does one come up with a routine in that environment?

The two strategies I have are based around the idea of “self-contained” and “small.” So, for example, I have a drip coffee filter and my own ground coffee. Making my own coffee gives me a slight control over my environment. Also, I have a small photo frame with collages of my grandsons in it. Again, it’s a connection to what is permanent in my life.

Both of those, though, are more rituals than habits. I’m working on coming up with a way to have morning rituals that will work in multiple areas of the world, in different environments.

A seven minute workout. Meditation. Mindfully drinking a glass of water. A yoga asana (blech!). These come to mind. What works for you? What kinds of routines have you managed to keep in your life? What makes you feel at home?

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cultivate synthetic happiness

The Wrong Toolbox

Fair warning: this is going to be one of those posts where I bring up a need, something that’s missing from the  bulk of personal development blogs. In a nutshell, it’s our inability to cultivate synthetic happiness. I’ll go into what that is, but I feel the need to explain in advance that I don’t have a solution for the problem. But maybe, just maybe, if I lay out what I’m seeing, you’ll have a better grasp than me for what needs to be done.

The realization came as I was watching a colleague who specializes in relationship counseling for alternative relationships. She was outlining her suggestions to help people find the right partner, and I found myself nodding along with her as she talked. She said very important things that we all-to-often forget, such as maintaining our own identities and knowing our own boundaries and insisting on a partner who respects them. All very important, very good stuff.

Then she went on to suggest that you have a list of the things that you need in a relationship, the things that make you happy. If you are looking for a traditional domestic bliss type living situation, for example, you shouldn’t hook up with the person who is traveling the world from rave to rave. If your idea of a lovely day is hiking through the mountains, then the woman who spends the majority of her recreational time playing Skyrim is probably not the right person for you. Those are the gross exaggerations, of course, but you can get much more personal. What are your views on sexuality? Jealousy? Politics? History? All of these things can make or break relationships, and my colleague insisted that you should know what you need to be happy in a relationship before you start screening potential partners.

And that’s where my brain did a scooby-doo Ruh-Roh!

Find Natural Happiness or Cultivate Synthetic Happiness?

Happiness is like a box of chocolates. That is, you can try and go with the guide that’s written on the top of the box, but the odds are that somebody’s been there before and rearranged the pieces. Or that the description of the Toffee-Butterscotch-Wasabi-Pimento-Nougat won’t taste quite the way you expect.

The thing that’s strange, though, is that if I tell you that you only get one piece of chocolate, the odds are that even if you make a funny face at the first bite you will eventually tell somebody else “Oh, you should try that TBWPN chocolate – you’ll be surprised!” Dan Gilbert defines this as the difference between “natural” and “synthetic” happiness – that is, the difference between being happy because you stumbled on exactly what you wanted vs. the happiness you create when you don’t get what you want.

He explains it in detail, with bar graphs, in his TED talk. Part of Dr. Gilbert’s premise is that synthetic happiness is just as valuable and enduring as natural happiness, which is counter-intuitive to a lot of “authentic self” theories. He also points out briefly (and more extensively in his excellent book) that we are notoriously bad at predicting what will make us happy, and even worse at predicting how happy we’ll be whether we get what we want or not. This isn’t a hypothetical model; study after study has shown that our prefrontal cortex (i.e., imagination) is as wildly inaccurate as it is wonderfully entertaining.

And that’s where I suddenly had a problem with my colleague’s suggestion. If you make a list of the things you want, then the odds are that list is not going to actually be accurate. It’s going to be filled with the things you think you want, or the things you’re told you should want, or the things you wish you wanted (for example, I want to like doing yoga, but the best I can do is like having done yoga). Worse, if you take that list and apply it to a series of “candidates”, you are faced with choices. “Freedom is the enemy of synthetic happiness,” Dr. Gilbert says, and I’m afraid he has the bar-graphs to back it up.

The Affective Hedonic Aesthetic Screwdriver

What I’m suggesting is that lists and speculation are not what we need to increase the odds of being happy. The last thing we need is another version of the Meyers-Briggs personality test. If you’re a fan, then I apologize, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, let me explain:

The idea behind the test is that people can measure various aspects of their character by answering questions about their attitude, perception, adjustment, and lifestyle. This gives you a four-letter category (“I’m INTJ!“) which you can then match up to jobs, social events, and even other people to figure out how compatible you are.

There are several problems with this, rather eloquently laid out by The Skeptoid. In particular, there is this: ” It’s been found that 50% of test takers who retake it score differently the second time…depending on their mood that day or other factors, may answer enough questions differently to push them over… This makes it possible for two people who are very similar to actually end up with completely opposite scores.

Lying to yourself is probably not the way to cultivate synthetic happiness.

Lying to yourself is probably not the way to cultivate synthetic happiness.

So not only are we bad at predicting what will make us happy: so is everybody else. There’s the problem: we concentrate so much on figuring out how to get what we want, when what we really need is a way to adjust to the things that we have – an “Affective Hedonic Aesthetic Screwdriver”, to steal a beat from Dr. Who. It should be noted, it’s not about rationalizing things: we do that already. It’s as ancient as Aesop and the tale of the “Sour Grapes.” I don’t know about you, but I never thought the Fox actually believed that he didn’t want the grapes. Rationalizing “I didn’t really want that anyway“, like affirmations, doesn’t seem to work terribly well, at least on their own.

Rather, we should be developing strategies for irrational situations like being happy with the things we didn’t expect. For example: the sudden gut-wrenching attraction to the person who doesn’t match our list.

Sounds like a good topic for Friday, yes? Any other ideas for the creation of your own personal “AHA Screwdriver”?

 

evaluate before you practice

Time Tips from XKCD:

a comic graph from XKCD asking:

from XKCD: Why It’s Important to Reflect & Evaluate Before You Practice Change

 

I’ve gotta be honest: I don’t know enough math to really understand this comic ( though I appreciate hearing about it from Karl). I believe the point, though, is that the first step in productivity is to make sure that whatever process you’re putting into place is really necessary. The lifehack threads are full of promises: Lose weight! Save money! Save time! Learn how to relax twice as much in half the time in order to be three times more productive! But rarely do they include the first step: evaluate before you practice.

The problem is that the changes themselves come at a cost. I’m experiencing that right now with my attempts to be more mindful of spending. I have a tiny app that is simply a budgeting record. It records every transaction along with simple categories which theoretically would give me a better idea of where my money is going.

The problem is that those few seconds after each transaction have an awkwardness around them that makes it inconvenient to record the purchase. In addition, being a freelance type with multiple income streams means that my influx of money is not terribly predictable, neither does it always fit into neat categories. Wrap all that into a big “try to be more mindful of your surroundings and spend less time on your phone” general life goal and you have a big problem with establishing a habit.

So I continue to try different methods to set up an environment – a portable environment, since it has to come with me – for keeping track of my money. And it’s going to take time, both in small increments and in the larger scheme of things, trying to understand the ways that my spending habits are currently functioning and how I can improve them.

Take the Time to Evaluate Before You Practice or Change Habits

I’m pretty sure I need to improve my money skills. Trust me on that. But what if I decided to add in time tracking? There are apps that help you log every minute of your day, and many productivity gurus will tell you to do just that. Should that be my next step?

I don’t think so, for one very big reason: time is not an issue with me. I recently spent fifteen minutes writing a short piece, off the cuff, and it turned into one of the most popular pieces I’ve ever written for the specialized audience it was intended for. At the same time, there were articles I’ve struggled for hours over that have barely made a ripple.

Lesson learned: time is not the factor in terms of my writing. If I took the time to track every minute of my day, and then optimized it so that somehow I was dedicating more time to writing…there is no guarantee that my writing would improve.

On the other hand, maybe putting myself in high-pressure fifteen minute production environments would be worth it…

The moral of the story is this: systems tend to self-organize into optimum modes. So before you go changing the habits of a lifetime, check and make sure they need to be changed. It’s possible you’ve set your life up the way it is for a reason.

Put another way: if it works, don’t break it.

What is the Motivation for Your Practice?

The Maze or the Cheese?

I enjoyed relaxing yesterday morning with a TED Talk by Dan Ariely about the motivation for work. Much as Daniel Pink  talked about in his book Drive, it turns out the old Skinnerian behavior models don’t work so well in the knowledge economy. People don’t seem to want to work just for pay, especially if they don’t get to see their work applied to some higher meaning. In the experiments Ariely describes, people are given relatively mundane tasks (assembling legos) but are paid less and less with each consecutive assembly.

For some, the assembled pieces are stored, with the implication that somewhere there is a stack of completed models. Maybe they’re part of a gallery! An animated army for a film! Gifts for a children’s hospital! Not that any of those possibilities were mentioned; I simply could imagine the subjects thinking that as they assembled model after model for less and less pay. On average, people were willing to assemble eleven models before the pay-to-work ratio fell too low.

For other subjects, once a model was assembled it was immediately disassembled in front of them. Everything else was the same – they were still offered the chance to assemble another one for less money. Each time they completed it, the model was simply taken apart right in front of them. Unsurprisingly, when faced with this kind of meaningless repetition, they were willing to assemble far fewer lego models.

Except according to the classic model of economics they should have been just as willing to perform the task, since the money involved was the same. Nope – turns out that it’s not the cheese at the end that motivates the rats, but it’s also the trip through the maze itself.

The Difficulty of Self-Motivation

the Motivation for a Japanese Tea Ceremony

What is the motivation for such attention to process?

As I read about the experiment, I found myself thinking of it from a zen perspective. If I were doing that experiment, perhaps I would try to find the most efficient way to assemble the pieces. I would examine my movements, trying to combine form and function into a level of grace similar the Japanese tea ceremony. Have you ever seen one? It is one of the most beautiful practices I’ve ever seen, ever since I first saw it in The Karate Kid II. 

But I think my fantasy of how I would do the study has one major flaw, and it’s also related to the tea ceremony. The first time I was able to participate in one, I had to go through a training class. Not to perform the ceremony – to learn how to appreciate it, to be trained in the proper ways to show that appreciation. It wasn’t enough for me to simply watch, or simply drink the tea that was presented. I needed to be aware of what the various parts of the ceremony meant, why they were done the way they were done, and how to complete the act of thanks.

With the legos, the only person who would actually appreciate my progress was me. And while I am certainly egotistical enough to occupy my attention for a while, at a certain point even I tire of myself. Ariely actually backs up this observation with another experiment, where he discovered that even a token glance as some meaningful paperwork accompanied by an approving “Mm-hmm” can make a huge difference in how willing people are to do work.

The Hole & the Cheese

With any kind of new habit or endeavor or practice, I believe it is essential to determine what your motivation is for taking it on. Too often we conflate “reasons” with “motivation”, and they are not the same thing. I exercise because I want to maintain the ability to move and play with my grandkids. That’s a great reason, but is it a motivation? Not really, because when the couch and TV and donuts are beckoning I’m not usually around the boys. On the other hand, when I’m lifting Harvey out of his car seat and I get that warning twinge in my back, suddenly I am motivated by fear – but of course, at that point I’m nowhere near the exercise center.

It’s like the old saw about the man with a hole in his roof that lets the rain in. Why doesn’t he fix it? Because when it leaks, it’s too rainy to be up on the roof, and when it’s not raining, well, it doesn’t leak, right?

Almost everything I do suffers that same problem. I hate writing, but I love having written. I hate yoga, but I feel great when I’ve done it. I hated my dance technique classes, but I loved the feeling of applause after a performance. I hate doing SEO, but I love looking at my Google Analytics.

For the most part, the motivation behind the successful practices has been the reward after – which Mr. Ariely would also be unsurprised at. He uses the example of mountain climbers, who suffer frostbite, hypoxia, falls, danger, and worse, just to get to the top of a mountain. When they go back down, what do they do? Usually plan their next ascent. It’s not the maze itself, it’s the meaning they find by going through the maze that is the reward.

But isn’t the view from the top sort of the “cheese” reward? Aren’t my blog posts the reward of writing, and my being able to go upstairs easily the payoff for the yoga and elliptical? The answer is yes, of course – but it’s not usually what you think it is when you start the journey. I began yoga hoping to look like Rodney Yee. I started this blog with the hope of making a living from it.

Guess what? I look more like Harvey Keitel. And my initial investor is still waiting on his ROI. But what I have is a body of work, in both senses of the word, that I can look at and benefit from, as well as share with others. And I still exercise, and I still write, but not for the cheese I thought I was getting.

If you’re in the maze, find the right cheese. It will make the journey much, much easier.

Habits: Prioritize for Change

Whoa There, Tiger

A steak with mushrooms and kale: slow-carb habits

See what you’ve been missing? HABITS IN ACTION!

But Gray, I thought you were going to practice the habit of posting pictures of everything you eat, in order to help follow along with the 4-Hour Body  Slow-Carb diet?!? I signed up to follow you on twitter and everything – even liked your Facebook page! How could you let me down like that?”

Well, first of all, if the only reason you signed up to Twitter was to watch what I was eating…well, I think I can safely say there are better uses of the medium.

Second of all, one of the key ideas that Leo Babauta talks about with habits is that it’s a bad idea to start too many at once.

Cascading Habits, Cascading Failures

Why not start several new habits at once? Isn’t that the way that people go through transformative processes? After all, the Marine Drill Instructors didn’t say “Hey, Gray, this week we’re going to have you cut your hair, next week you’ll wear this uniform, the following week you’ll start saying “sir” before and after every sentence.”

This is true. And in some cases, such as boot camps and rehab clinics and Disneyland, they do want you to change a whole bunch of habits at once. But they also set up an environment that will support the habits that are changed. The environment may make it difficult not to maintain the habit. You can’t really sleep in very easily when there’s a loudmouthed sergeant beating a garbage can near your head screaming “GETOUTTATHERACKGETOUTTATHERACKGETOUTTATHERACK!” So the habit of rising early is pretty effectively supported, along with other things.

Read more…

Quantify This

While reading the blog of the king of lifehacking, Tim Ferriss, I came across a phrase that hadn’t really registered with my conscious mind yet. I’ve been aware of the phenomenon, and of the movement, and even been a part of it here and there. This blog, really, could count as an incarnation of this particular trend. It is the “Quantified Self” movement, and it’s about “self knowledge through numbers.”

Started by Gary Wolf in 2008, the movement is not new – there are many journals where people have monitored their moods, their body functions, etc. However, it’s going through a renaissance, spurred my many factors such as the miniaturization of GPS trackers, 3D accelerometers, biometric trackers, and “always-on apps” that transmit the data to the Cloud. Once it’s there, an entire cottage industry of apps turns the data into graphs, bars, and pie charts that the QSers use to…well…play with themselves.

I mean that mostly in a positive way: they use the data to get a different perspective of some part of their lives – money, sleep, weight, food intake, whatever – and then, hopefully, use that perspective to make the changes they want in their lives. To make their lives happier.

Read more…

Haiku for July 4th

Launch into blue sky,
Impotent sparks unnoticed,
After boom, silence.

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Self-Sabotage to Success

Last night I really wanted ice cream.

I’m talking the decadent, chocolatey-gooey-caramel-filled-brownie-chunkin’ Ben & Jerry’s kind of ice cream. They sell it right down the street, in those pint containers that just look at you and say “Just grab a spoon, boy, you’re not fooling anyone with that bowl.

But last night was also cold. The first snowstorm in Seattle, and while by midwestern standards that’s not much, for the city here it pretty much shuts things down. The temperature was right around freezing, and so even the shoveled walks were slick. I was sitting on a comfy couch, curled up in a nice book.

Ice cream vs. comfort. What a battle! I knew that ice cream would be bad for me on several levels – not just fat content, but also contributing to some dental problems. I also knew I’d eaten well already today – delicious homemade chicken mushroom stew with cornbread – and didn’t really need to have the ice cream. It was a craving. All I had to do was get up, walk to the store, and get it.

But the couch was so comfy…the inertial pull almost impossible. More than that, Mama Cleo, the housecat, decided to take up residence on my chest. I would be disturbing her wa if I moved!

Plus, I really didn’t feel like it. So the ice cream stayed safe at the store. Not because of any great self-discipline or force of will on my part. No, it was laziness.

“Progress is made by lazy people finding easier ways to do things.”
-Robert Heinlein

This is only the most recent example of a technique I’ve been experimenting with: leveraging my faults (yes, I know that’s a value judgement, bear with me here) against each other.

  • If I find myself with the urge to watch Netflix when I really should be doing some other chore? I procrastinate starting it up until there’s not enough time to watch whatever I wanted, and then find that in the remaining time I’m amazingly productive.
  • I really have a hard time motivating myself to journal in the morning – so I tied it to the “bad” habit of coffee, and now I eagerly pick up the journal, because it means I get caffeinated!
  • I have yet to be able to get myself back in the “habit” of daily exercise – but I use my desire to be polite as a motivation to do yoga whenever my housemate suggests it. She wouldn’t really be insulted if I said no, but by pretending she would be, I give myself the added impetus necessary to do what is good for my body.
  • I let my “scarcity” attitude about money (something that is definitely not healthy) rear up and tell myself that I can’t afford ice cream when I’m grocery shopping. So it doesn’t get purchased, it’s not there when the craving hits, and the couch and the book and the laziness win!

“What You Can’t Hide, You Feature!”


I believe this strategy of self-sabotaging to success is just a kind of corollary to a seduction tip I learned years ago from Arden Leigh, author of The New Rules of Attraction. The idea is that if there is some part of you that you feel you don’t like, but that you can’t do anything about…flaunt it! Wear clothes that emphasize the vast expanse of your belly, get the biggest, thickest frames for your glasses, dye your thinning hair brilliant purple. What that does is take away the necessity to try and ignore it or overlook it. It’s there. Deal with it.

Now that that’s out of the way, what else do we have?

The self-sabotaging path to success is kind of like that. It’s being too lazy to fail. It’s misplacing the bills on the counter instead of the desk so you just pay them to get rid of the clutter. It’s forgetting your power adapter when you go to the coffee shop, so you focus on the writing and keep the social networks at bay because they use up your precious battery. It’s deciding the book is too heavy to bring with you on the flight so you spend the time looking out the window and thinking all those thoughts you were distracted from by life…

Don’t Make a Habit of It

I don’t want you think I’m advocating laziness, greed, sloth, gluttony, or any other of those really fun sins. However, if you’re going to have to deal with them, might as well make use of them until that bright and shiny day when you reach enlightenment and no longer have to deal with them at all.

As a last example, my other housemate (not the yogini) was aware of my craving, and politely offered me the remainder of the pint of lemon sorbet she had in the fridge. I resisted, of course – that’s only marginally more healthy than Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey – but it was to no avail. Once she planted the idea in my mind, the walk to the fridge was inevitable. My healthful plans were somewhat foiled, again. My housemate had used her generosity to tempt me into removing that particular obstacle from her own dietary conniptions.

Deliciously foiled again.


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