So often in my life I struggle with a constant tension between the practical and the ideal. 

For example, I love writing but rarely pick up a pen.  I want to be healthy but generally don’t exercise.  I would like to eat better but I normally settle for a microwaved burrito instead. 

The problem is simple- I want both things at once, which unfortunately is a logical impossibility.  I would be the first to admit that my longing for the practical is generally stronger than the ideal, because that’s the choice I usually make. 

I’m not quite sure how to tip the scales to make better choices.  I’ve tried forcing myself to exercise (setting the alarm early, etc.) but that only appears to work for a few weeks before my willpower runs out and I go back to sitting on the couch.  At least for me, external activity does not appear to change the internal protocols I’m working under.

The question, then, is how does one “rewire” oneself?  We’re not computers and there are certainly no instruction manuals.  Does the switch occur as we age- is it simply a sign of maturity? 

I have an image of my ideal self in my head that I would one day like to attain, but I’m not doing a whole lot to meet that ideal on a daily basis.  Part of the problem is that the rewards for meeting that ideal are so incremental as to hardly be noticeable- there’s not a whole lot of reward right off the bat.  Like most Americans, I’m susceptible to instant gratification.  I tend to want results immediately, but few things worth anything in life work out that way. 

Hopefully, by looking at the big picture and doing little things everyday to change my outlook, I can start to turn the tide and actually start chasing my ideal self.  At least, that’s the plan. 


One Response

  1. This is a great post–you very succinctly state the see-saw of emotions most people go through when trying to change in any way. Trying to “force” yourself never works, as you’ve found out. The best thing I can suggest is to try to “fool” yourself into changes. For example, if you don’t like to exercise, you won’t do it. So make it almost imperceptible–you like plants and photography–go for a walk in a botanical garden or around your neighborhood and take pictures of plants–an activity which will keep you distracted from the amount of walking you do. Something like that.
    You’re right–the tiny changes we make add up to great changes in the end.
    BTW, that plant looks like a croton to me. (If it’s the one you actually bought.)
    As for the food–if you don’t have access to junk food, you won’t eat it. Pretend to yourself that there are no more burritos–they just stopped making them. Pretend that you can’t buy anything edible from a machine. Fill your house with only healthy foods and eventually you’ll get hungry enough to prepare them, if only out of desperation. Buy nothing outside of your house. Take your lunch and snacks with you.

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