Why Awareness Might Be All You Need
Sometimes, just being aware of something seems to pull us toward that thing magnetically. Not in some ‘secret’ universe will help you out way, but simply because you’ll navigate in that direction by yourself.
Once we know something (or think we know something) we have a tendency to put so much pressure on ourselves to adhere to the rules and constrictions as defined by the new thing we’ve learned that we cause ourselves an unhealthy amount of unnecessary stress in the process, quite often negating the improvements we were looking for in the first place.
I recently wrote about how I love to learn; particularly about things that I can practically implement to improve my physical and metal health (age less, tranquility more). I decided that I needed to take a break from learning and spend more time trying to hone what I’d learned. Jack of all trades is a valid title so long as you can balance your time and prioritise well.
But there’s a cool side effect to learning; you develop a mini super power of sorts with each new gang of useful facts, a kind of sixth sense (I see geek people) that does a little light lifting for you behind the scenes while you go about living your slightly less stressful life.
What am I wittering on about exactly? Simple awareness. I’m convinced that the majority of the big stuff (weight, stress, relationships, health, work) can be managed and actively IMPROVED with precisely 0000.1% effort (I nearly plumbed for zero but there’s no such thing). Whaaaaaat? Yep, I’m pretty sure that just by being more AWARE of what’s happening in and around you, you can make massive strides and I don’t mean manufacture a pair of flares.
Here’s an example:
Weight loss. Pretty high on a lot of agendas but perhaps not accurately named. Weight itself isn’t the problem. There may not even BE a problem. There are two things going on here that are important. 1. How you feel about yourself when you stand naked in front of the mirror. 2. How your actual size and shape correlate to how healthy you are or aren’t.
We should reverse engineer everything. It makes things simple, easier to manage, cope with and fix. Here’s a crap conversation:
Me: “I want to lose 10kg”
Every diet guru, diet book, common sense advice merchant EVER: “OK, do this diet and exercise plan for X amount of time and Bob’s your Auntie’s live in lover”
Result: Nine times out of ten – lose a bit of weight, feel positive. Give up, put weight back on, feel like a loser. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Here’s a better conversation:
Me: “I want to lose 10kg”
Also me: “Why?”
“Because I’m overweight, obvs”
“Why is that a problem?”
“Um, because I don’t think it looks very nice, kids point and laugh and I don’t feel very confident when I’m undressed. Or dressed”
“What does it matter what kids think? Or anyone else for that matter?”
“Dude, it matters, how will I get a date looking like this??”
“So you want to get a date?”
“Duh! YES, I’ve been single for like, ever!”
“But you don’t feel very confident? And losing weight might help?
Getting confident might actually be a far better goal than losing 10kg. It isn’t always the thing you think it is that causing the problem. Always ask WHY? And keep asking why all the way back until you get to the truth of the matter. It might be a far simpler conundrum to solve.
Slight digression; the point is – you don’t actually want to lose weight quite as much as you want to NOT get heart disease, cancer or diabetes whilst being an uber cool and confident boy or gal. Happy and healthy are the win, THEY are the goal, not the readout on your scales.
So here’s your diet plan, thanks to Michael Pollen:
Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
That’s it. Don’t count calories or buy a special book or kitchen gadget or join some special club with expensive meetings or faddish shakes or anything else marketed towards the goals you think you should have designed just to milk your cash.
KEEP IT SIMPLE AND EASY. If it’s simple and easy it’s far easier to not give up. And if you’re not actually doing anything special then there’s nothing TO give up. You’ve already won.
Are you going to tell me that you don’t know that cutting out junk food and replacing that with whole foods and lots of vegetables won’t do the job? Do you really need to PAY A COMPANY to put you on a plan because you can’t buy some fresh veg instead of a pie? I don’t buy that. You’re smart, you’re amazing and you know when you’re happiest. You just need to engage your AWARENESS. When you have a choice in front of you, you simply get in the habit of making the right one. What right one? The one you ALREADY KNOW is the right one for goodness sake!
I like the idea that old habits, especially bad habits and definitely thought patterns (the bastards) can be visualised as grooves in a vinyl record. Once that groove is cut, your needle is stuck in a holding pattern. Nothing will change until you cut a new groove, and you do that by making the right choices often enough that you eventually dig out a new path for your needle to follow, a deeper one than you had before. And you do THAT simply by being aware of what’s going on around you and the choices you make. Just slightly less obliviousness and a tad more thinking before you choose a direction (or a cake or a thought).
Here’s where you’d usually get 5 Top Tips For Boosting Awareness Every Day. But that sounds like hard work, I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast.
So here’s the only thing you need:
For a while, until it becomes second nature, pause for a few seconds before as many things as possible and ask yourself:
What’s the best thing I can do here? And then do that thing. Or not depending on what’s going down.
We’ll break it down a little more because life is stupid and weird at us most of the time:
With other humans (partners, your kids, old ladies in the street, shop assistants and so on), ask:
What’s the best thing I can do for THEM in this situation? Then do that thing. Really, forget you in just about every situation that connects to other people and just be amazing to them. Compassion for OTHERS might be the most effective thing you can do to make YOU a 1000000% happier.
When you’re confronted with choices that are for you (do I quit? Should I eat that fudge cake? Will this reduce my stress? Or quadruple my biceps?), ask:
What’s the best thing I can do for me? Then do that thing.
Try it for just a week; go against the grain a little. No counting calories or strict lifestyle plans, just pause more before you choose and do what your already amazing heart and brain work together to tell you to do. If you’re not at least 10% happier by this time next week then I’ll eat your shoes.
Of course there are so many other simple ways to bring cool outcomes into your life and slow the various gnarly brain jockey’s that canter through your head all day long, but sometimes simple is the best place to start. Actually, it’s always the best place to start.
Go, go, go, shush, stop talking, go now and start!
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