I was listening to a podcast the other day where a modern-day philosopher, Sam Harris, was talking about how to improve brain function. What is the most important thing you can do? Sleep. Of course we already knew that but almost no one gets enough sleep. Our society isn’t designed for it. The noise. The foods we eat. The busy schedules. The late night entertainment.
Sam Harris admitted that he doesn’t even get the sleep he needs. He said he doesn’t do a lot of things that he knows he should be doing for his health and success. Why is that? Why are there so many people teaching productivity but most people still do not do the things that they know will make them happier in the long run?
I think it’s because they simply don’t want to. People always do exactly what they want to do and they want exactly what their experience and habits have taught them to want. It takes a lot of force to stop a moving train. You could easily flip a switch and redirect it but in most cases we’re talking about laying new track for our brains to run on and who has the time and energy for that??
Change is definitely hard work but in order to even start that work you have to change your mind and decide you want to. You have to want change more than you want to keep watching your television shows. More than you want to keep eating junk food. More than you want to mindlessly go to the gym and jump on a treadmill.
I know how hard change is because I have been doing it for 16 years and here’s how I do it every single time.
First I begin educating myself.
My daughter has been drawing a lot of pictures the last couple days and she can’t figure out why they aren’t as pretty as she wants them to be. She didn’t pick a violin up one day and immediately start playing a beautiful song so why should she be able draw without any study? We spend hours listening to our music before we ever try playing it. Before my little children start learning a new poem they have heard it hundreds of times so they know it before they even know they know it. I suggested to my daughter that if she wants to learn to draw she needs to study drawings.
If you want to stop sitting all day and start moving you first have to study people who move. I’m afraid most people just do the first thing they think of. Running marathons is the trendy thing to do so people go out and buy a pair of running shoes and they start running without having any idea what they’re doing. They join a gym and start lifting weights because that is what everyone else is doing. Then they wonder why they either can’t sick with it or they end up injured.
I have made this mistake so many times. My friend is eating vegan so I eat vegan. I see a neighbor homeschooling so I decide to homeschool. I didn’t use my brain to educate myself and study every side of the issue from all the information I could find. I was raised to think this way. I was raised to think that if I “felt” like something was right then it must be right.
The best cure for a bad idea is to study more ideas. When I first decided to get my life organized I went to the library and checked out every book they had on organizing and I read all of them from cover to cover. I have done this with so many things but I haven’t done it with everything. Many times I made the mistake of reading 5 books when I should have read 50 or 500.
Who has time to read 500 books every time they want to learn something? You do! Not only will education give you a change of heart but it will save you so much time. There are so many ways to do things wrong but finding the best and easiest way to do it can be tricky. Usually I have to do a lot of reading and a lot of talking to other people to learn from their experience. If I can’t find all the information I’m looking for sometimes I will think of something on my own or I will take an idea and make it better but that also comes with study.
If you want to make a real and lasting change in your life you have to study or time will just keep passing with no results until you educate yourself into a real change of heart.
Next I start small.
For the last 2 years I have been trying to get my health back so I did tiny things that I could do until I felt good enough to do bigger things. I didn’t set out to run a marathon. I drove to the park and I walked around it one time in my flip-flops because it hurt to put shoes on. A few days later I walked around it twice. I started doing stretches that didn’t cure the pain in my body but they made it more manageable. I started sitting on the floor so that getting up and down was a work out and every day I got a little stronger. The first time I got up and vacuumed my children all gasped. They asked me what I was doing. “Mothers don’t vacuum!” they told me. I had been sick for so long that my poor children had forgotten all the things their mother used to do.
Now, two years later I can easily get up and down from the floor. In fact I sleep on the floor because it feels so good and I actually sleep instead of lying awake half the night. I can walk for miles. I can stand for hours. I can swing from the monkey bars and run around with my children again. Almost every pain in my body is gone. Of course a lot of that healing has happened in the last four months since we started the GAPS diet but I couldn’t have even started the diet until I was at least well enough to start the diet because I didn’t have anyone to do it for me.
If you want to get organized start by getting rid of 5 things. If you are capable of doing more, of getting rid of everything and starting over then do it! But most of us aren’t capable of that kind of change all at once so we must start small. Do one small thing today and another one tomorrow and all those small things will add up and become something big over the weeks and months and years to come. Maybe you will look back on your life, like I do, and wish you had moved more quickly but in this moment we can only do what we can do.
No one on this planet has it all figured out. Everyone has things in their life that they want to change but most people keep pretending that they will change some day. Some day they will have more time and more energy and then of course they will change but it doesn’t work that way. You will never have more energy and time than you have right now if you don’t start today.
I have been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated for a while so the last few days I finally got sick of myself and decided that what I needed was more work. As if I could work more than morning till night but you know what? I did work more. I was more focused and determined and I got more accomplished than I usually do and it felt great. It makes me want to get more done tomorrow and the next day and the next.
The more you accomplish the more you can accomplish.
Funny how that works.