Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Changes



So I've decided that a Good Life is really just a cumulation of good habits.

In my experience with it thus far, Life comes at me in random and unpredictable spurts. There is little rhyme or reason to it from where I sit. A few Sunday School lessons, Holocaust stories, and observations of Middle Schooler's interactions has taught me that what determines whether it ("it" being Life in this case) is a good or bad experience is how you react to it right?

So reactions are pretty important.

Important stuff for me means planning and preparing and rehearsing and rewriting and editing and practicing some more and having your bff review and approve and planning etc.

But I've never really gotten a lot of lead time when big Life moments have come before and I feel, to an extent, that I've blown a few of them because I reacted poorly.

So, in an effort to focus energy on solutions and not problems I've thought:

"OK - I need to react well to everything so that when another Life moment happens I'll see it as just another thing and do well."

"Well" meaning: according to my faith, proportionally to the person and situation, respectfully, without entitlement, and with grace or "like a Lady" for short.

So practicing reactions is stuff you do every day. Then I realized that none of that is a new concept. They're called habits and people have been preaching this for years. Like I said before, I'm slow.

I've realize that I have many different habits. Stress habits, work habits, emotional habits, grooming habits, social habits, mental habits and I found good and bad ones all over the place.

So, therefore if my rhetorical calculations are right; if I change my habits I change my trajectory, or Life. That works for me.

On changing habits: my AP Physics class taught me that nature hates a vacuum. I can't just wake up and let myself think/ say:

STUPID THINGS ARE STUPID SO I'M GOING TO STOP DOING STUPID THINGS. RIGHT NOW. FOREVER. I'M GOING TO BE STUPIDLESS AND SHINEY AND GOLDEN! NONE SHALL THWART MY CARTOON APPROACH TO SELF IMPROVEMENT. I'M STRONG AND AMAZING. I CAN HANDLE IT.

Why yes my inner monologue is in caps, especially when it's being declarative (and irrational) and frequently sounds like Anne Shirley........ What? Don't judge me.

So I'm changing habits - going for the jugular if you will.

After listening to my initial reaction I hear my AP Physics teacher, Mr. Davis, say in is most somber voice "Nature hates a vacuum. Whatever is closest get's the job".

So the ripping out of a bad habit typically sucks in a neighboring (and sometimes worse) bad habit. Less effective**.

Sports and Music have taught me that excellence comes from doing the same thing over and over with consistent little corrections. One just doesn't go to water polo camp for two weeks and come back an Olympian***. One can learn a lot there, theory wise, technique wise even, but conditioning and repetitive, accurate, execution is the only thing that will ever make water polo player a good water polo player. Instant change isn't real change. My goal is a serious habit remodel so my initial/Annesque solution won't work. Ever. Hence, good habits are cultivated by practice to gingerly and deliberately replace bad habits. Like Indy at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Arc. Not that I consider my disposition and approach to life a bag of sand - but you know what I mean.

Inconsistency is one of my bad habits. I never to go sleep at the same time or have the same thing for breakfast etc. This quality lends itself to a lot of complications so I'm taking and making opportunities to practice consistence. One of these is also an effort to enrich myself, make best use of my time, and create some continuity to my days. I've started listening to NPR on my way to work. I realize this isn't very news worthy or unique and I'm OK with that. There is power in simplicity.

I love NPR but neither habits or it are NOT the point of this post if you can believe it.

The point is; I've been following the most wonderful series/story and I want everyone I know to share the awesome.

Steve Inskeep from Morning Edition has been making his way along the Grand Trunk Road in India and Pakistan. One 5th of the world's population lives around there and over half of that area's population is under age 25. Seeing how small of a place the world is becoming I've realized and embraced the fact that these people are going to be my contemporaries, are going to change the world, and I am VERY interested to know about them and their lives.

I've just love-loved it. Give it a listen/read and tell me what you think. I'd really love to start a conversation about this.


**The Missionary Guide, or "Gia" as the Spanish types said, had a series of training modules. There was always a feedback section and I suppose in an effort to be positive, whoever wrote them only ever termed something as "Effective" or "Less Effective". It was this random ubiquitous phrase in our little worlds and took on epic meaning. If something was just beyond an epic fail it was "less effective", or as we said in the Spanish program "menos efficaz"

2 comments:

Tracy said...

NPR... I'm slightly disturbed by anyone who feels the need to whisper the news to me.

But, my guilty pleasure is CBS Sunday Morning. So, glass houses I suppose.

I'm sad for you that you don't have Chris Stigall in the morning. He calls the "Underwear Bomber" the "Crotch Bomber". I laughed so hard the first time I heard it, I nearly shot tea out my nose!

My best internal voice shift has come from reading the daily digest from flylady.net. She's done some pretty amazing things for my routines - started at home and rolled over to work. "Paralyzed by perfection" happens much, much less these days.

youhana said...

nice