Okay, Brandonians. It’s Mantra Monday, and that’ means it’s time to say “F-You!” to motivation and embrace discipline! This is your weekly kick-in-the-ass to get you out there and get you moving this week.
What am I doing this for, anyway?
I touched briefly last week on how I ended up quittin’ the cig’rettes – gradually, and with a commitment to myself that I could keep. This week I want to talk about the “commitment to myself” part of that. I want to talk about what it is that really allows someone to summon the powerful forces of gumption within them, get off the couch, and do mighty and bold things – like completely reshape themselves! Make no mistake, ladies and gents, for some of you (and for me two years ago) that is a personal undertaking the size of building the Panama Canal.
I think one of the things I’ve had going for me in my life these past couple of years is a realization that so many of us never get to. It’s the realization that you are the only one in charge of your life. Your parents, your family members, your friends, your community, all of those people can have an enormous impact on how we make decisions. And unfortunately, in the end, if we’re making decisions to please those other people in our lives all the time, we’re losing out on the possibilities for ourselves.
We’ll get to the positivity in a moment. First, time to get scared.
I want you to think about your deathbed for a moment. Morbid, I know, and this is supposed to be an “inspirational” post, but bear with me. Seriously, though. You’re going to die one day. For most of us, it’ll be either from a heart attack, cancer, or an auto-accident.
Look, I know that most of us do whatever we can to NOT think about this stuff, but just be brave for a second, and use your imagination. You’ve just had a heart attack; you’re nearing the end of your battle with pancreatic cancer; you were just on your way to pick up some groceries when a car crossed the center line. You’re in a hospital bed prepping for surgery, or pushing the button for more morphine, or being wheeled in on a gurney.
What are you going to be thinking about? Aside from maybe praying (if you’re religious – or maybe even if you’re not), and the massive amount of fear that you’re trying to suppress, will you be wishing you’d watched that extra episode of [insert your absolute favorite TV show here]? Will you be wishing you’d done more to please the people around you (even though, if you’re the heart-attack victim, that’s probably what got you there in the first place)
How stress affects your decision making
It is OVERWHELMINGLY likely that living to please other people around you without taking time to cultivate yourself is killing you slowly. We all know the feeling, it can go something like this: I’ve had a shitty day. I don’t feel like making dinner, but everyone is going to expect it from me. Oh, there’s Little Caesar’s. I’m just going to stop and get a $5 pizza and call it good.
Or maybe it’s less conscious than that. Just a simple equation – Boss gives me crap and anxiety. I eat a box of Twinkies and spend the night laying on the couch – which is what happened yesterday, only it was a box of FatBoy Ice Cream cones. Your blood pressure is elevated, you’re cortisol (stress hormones) are off the charts, and then you eat a donut, and the sugar rush floods your brain with dopamine, which makes you feel good, and makes you continue the cycle.
So how do I commit to myself without feeling selfish, or like I’m abandoning others?
Here’s what I want you to do: take an inventory of your “friends list” on social media. Who is really going to suffer or throw a fit if you decide to add small incremental changes to improve your physical and mental health (Oh yeah, Brandonia-Fit means mental health too)? As cliche as it is, the ones who you could imagine being negative about it shouldn’t matter to you.
Now, if it’s just some dude or woman you knew from high school that now lives across the country, who gives a shit? Cut that person out right away. No problem. But what if it’s your uncle, or your sibling, or even your best friend or significant other? That’s a little more tricky, and I’d never tell you to cut those people out of your lives completely… or would I? If your spouse were abusing you mentally or physically on a chronic basis, I’d tell you to leave that person as soon as possible (I know it’s not always that easy, but in extreme situations, your own survival is paramount – because as we talked about in the Thoughts for Thursday post from last week, YOU are just as valuable and important as every other human being on the planet.
The Wrap Up
We’re all here for a limited time only, Brandonians. Of course we want to spend time with the ones we love, but the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of those loved ones. Last week we talked about Why Discipline Doesn’t Have to Mean All or Nothing, and this week we talked about why we make commitments to ourselves. So commit to some kind of healthy step this week and see if you can stick to it for a month.
Even if it’s just one positive decision a day, it’s a start to a better you, and just like how stress eating floods your brain with dopamine, so does exercise and making decisions that you know are positive for yourself if you make sure to give yourself a reward for making those decisions and you do it for long enough. Take the first step. Commit to improving yourself today!