Tension

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. 

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Future Value in Practice

Last night, I decided to try again to quit smoking.  I have tried countless times with little success.  This time, however, I’m going to approach it from more of a happiness viewpoint than at prior times, using the future value of happiness theory I advanced below. 

Not smoking a cigarette will not give me much happiness at the moment- sure, they’ll be a small sense of accomplishment, but that will be about it.  However, the future value of that happiness could grow quite large.  If, a year from now, I can be nicotine free and exercising regularly, the small act I’m doing now will reap astronomical returns.  The future value is both huge and incalculable.

If their were a financial equivalent, I would throw every penny I had into it and wait to become rich a year later.  It seems absurd that I won’t do it with something like happiness.

This goes back to something I posted about earlier- sometimes in our lives we have to be sadder for a while before we can reach a higher level of happiness.  The first week I quit smoking is not going to be a pleasant experience.  But that’s okay, because the happiness the activity will cause in the long-term more than tips that balance.  Likewise, the first week I go jogging is the worst- I’m always sore and I feel like a failure when I stop after half a mile- but it leads to achievements that I couldn’t reach otherwise.  The dip in happiness is worth it, due to the fact that the happiness returns are so high.

What I have to focus on is the image a year from now- running effortlessly through the streets of my hometown, lungs greedily and efficiently sucking up air and legs pumping like pistons as I cover miles and miles.  This is possible- but only if I try for it.

So today I’m going to start stop smoking.  It’s been long enough.

An Adventure A Day

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I don’t think people seek out adventure as much as they use to.  Part of it in the past was necessity, of course- one had to risk one’s life on a daily basis at times just to survive.  Routines, in and of themselves, were deadly. 

Our lives today have largely become rhythmic rituals that never change- even weekends have become humdrum.  It’s time to change.

My goal is to have at least one adventure a day from here on out.  For purposes of this blog, I define “adventure” as doing something where the outcome is totally unpredictable.  It could take three hours or five minutes- the length is not important.  But hopefully it will begin to break up this mundane existence I all too often find myself in.

Today, I’m going to take a walking tour of my hometown with a digital camera.  I’ll share the photos later.

Introductions

My goal for this blog is to explore our relationship with ourselves, each other, and the world.  Sounds ambitious, to be sure, but there’s got to be more to life than working mindlessly, making money just to spend it, watching television, and waiting to die.

A lot of the emphasis will focus on how to find and maintain happiness in our everyday lives.  The older I get, the more I realize the pointlessness of money and the supreme importance of being content.  (For a recent example, just look at the Britney Spears fiasco- money, money everywhere, but not a smile to share.)  So I’ll focus on living richly with less stuff and focusing on the things that are truly important- like leaving behind a life filled with memories and meaning, as opposed to a huge trust fund.

So that’s it.  Other than what’s posted above, I’m not sure where I’m going with this thing.  But it’s going somewhere.