|Not My Belly|
6. Know Yourself
|Not My Belly|
As I have mentioned before, my Dad has health issues. On Monday he ended up in the hospital. As of my writing this on the next Monday he is still in the hospital. We hope and pray that he will be home soon.
The early part of the week went by in a flash that I don’t even remember.
On Christmas eve I drove up to my parents. I saw my Dad in the hospital and then went to have a our traditional Christmas Eve family dinner. The turnout was smaller than usual but the food was good. And I met I big dog. Then went to visit my Dad again.
|Doggie sleeping on me she wuvs me|
I drove home on Saturday through the rain. It kept raining. On Sunday it rained a bunch more.. It is still raining.. I read we got 6 inches of rain. I am beginning to worry about flooding and I live on the second floor.
This is a re-written version of an older post and the second my series on habit formation and self improvement. I found the original version a little confusing.
Much of this post is based on a book called Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. It is not a self help book. It is a book by a psychologist and a science writer. They delve into actual scientific studies about willpower, impulse control, etc. The birth of this science was a study often referred to as the Marshmallow Study. You can read the details at the link. The gist is that children where tested if they could resist a treat for greater reward in the future. At a later point, researchers went and tracked down the kids as adults. Almost universally the kids that had been able to resist the temptation had become successful and happy adults. This led to thirty years of studies and debate as to the role of self-esteem*, impulse control, upbringing, etc in success. I highly recommend reading the book. I am going extrapolate a lot from what I read and not go into the specific details covered in the book.
Every time we do anything with our brains we use up some of this energy. Learning a new task at work, resisting the temptation to eat a brownie, trying to win an argument in a meeting, these all take up the amount of available fuel your brain can access. We replenish that fuel through eating. Those snicker commercials aren’t far off. You aren’t you when you are hungry. You have a harder time doing things and making decisions. When and what we eat can help keep our brains stay fueled. Foods that release their energy slowly, such as nuts, can keep us going while sugar will give a quick but short burst of brain power.
This is why losing weight can actually be very difficult. You want your body to use the energy that it has stored as fat. In order to make this happen you need to consume a calorie deficit. Doing this means your brain might not have the fuel it needs to help resist a doughnut at that early morning meeting. This in no way means weight loss is impossible. It takes some tricks and planning.
The research points to two interesting caveats. There does seem to be an inherited amount of willpower. Some people are just born with more than others. Most importantly it can be trained like a muscle. They studied people who showed the attributes of having a lot of willpower. These people did things that “flexed” their willpower. Stand still for long periods of time hold you hand for as long as possible in a bowl of ice water will all, over time, increase your willpower. It seems that exercising your willpower makes your brain more efficient at using the available fuel
Willpower can be described as a combination of the amount of fuel our brains have available and the efficiency in which it is used.
One of the most important things they found about successful, was that they seemed to use as little willpower as possible. They designed their lives around not having to use a lot of energy for the mundane thus saving their power for the important decisions and moments in the day. Many people in leadership positions who are making important decisions throughout the day do not pick out their own clothes in the morning. They either Steve Jobs it and wear the same thing everyday, or maybe they have someone pick out clothes for them. I’ve taken to just lining up my work shirts in the closet and just going down the line each morning. Thus I use little to know brain power in the morning.
Habits are simply behaviors ingrained through repetition over time. To do a habit takes little to almost no energy. In fact it takes a conscious effort to not do a habit you have formed. If you have made the habit of always brushing your teeth in the morning it will actually take more effort to not do it. Obviously, habits can be either beneficial or detrimental. You can have a habit of going over all the things that happened in a day that made you thankful or joyful, or you can have a habit of dwelling on all the things that made you made or resentful.
I am convinced of the need to create conscious positive habits in order to live a good life. In the next post in this series I’ll tell you about the practical steps I have chosen to take to create good habits.
I once had a life coach. He quit life coaching after our time finished. True story.
As a young student, my teachers would often write on my report card “has potential but doesn’t apply self”. I have described my life philosophy in many ways. I am an anti-perfectionist. Why waste all the extra energy to get something perfect when you can do just good enough. I zenly describe myself as water flowing down hill. The water finds the easiest path to get to it’s destination. I have known people who always get gung ho about everything. They always try and make sure they do there best. If something is worth doing it is worth doing to the best of your ability. To me that has always sounded like a whole lot of unnecessary work. This is all a long winded way to say that I am lazy.
The oddest thing about my life philosophy of maximizing laziness is my love of people who are excellent at things. Ever since I was a child I have loved watching artists work or wood workers produce things. I watched all those PBS shows. Now I subscribe to a bunch of creative youtube channels. I marveled at the great things they created. I knew that all these people put in a great deal of effort and had spent years building their craft, but for some reason I unconsciously assumed that if you had a talent for something it was always easy.
This idiotic belief manifested many ways in my life. I wanted to play guitar but I would never sit down day after day to practice. I thought maybe I had some skill at painting. I bought a starter paint set. One day without any previous practice or preparation I sat down and spent twenty minutes trying to create a masterpiece. What I made ended up being a horrific disaster. I didn’t touch paints again for twenty year. In normal life this led me too look around in my thirties and realizes I hadn’t really accomplished anything in my life and didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
I decided that I needed to start living intentionally. To try and be a better me while actually working toward larger goals. I tried to accomplish this by making lists of things I would do. Like New Year’s resolutions these were supposed to guide me to long term change. I might stick to these new plans upwards of 2 to 3 days. I would often be full of resolve when falling asleep. Tomorrow would be different. I would make positive changes in my life.
About five years ago I decided to get really serious. So I started what I called the slackers Guide to Life. I even still own the domain slackersguidetolife.com. I planned to get myself out of debt, be healthy, and live a creative and productive life. I encountered a problem in that I didn’t really have a plan on how to do that. I decided not to buy anything for a year. I also planned to workout, eat right, and write everyday. I actually managed not to buy anything unnecessary for a year. Otherwise that attempt was mostly another failure.
Then I hit the big forty. I realized it wasn’t a joke anymore. I had gone half way through my life. I decided to take a much more proactive and scientific approach to productivity, habits and success. So I looked into what science tells us about goals etc.
It was a normal boring week. Though I was the most productive at work I think I might have ever been. I wrapped up a bunch of stuff for the end of the year. Over the weekend I finished the last of the Christmas shopping.
There was something odd about this week. I kept not knowing what day it was. Wednesday through Friday I woke up each morning and lay in bed thinking “So nice it’s Saturday and I don’t have to go to work tod…. oh crap.” The Saturday morning I woke up thinking I had to get ready for work. On Sunday I went to go to a local deli. I was confused when I got there because they were closed. They stay open to 6 on Saturdays and it was only 3.. Oh yeah it was Sunday.
Here is a funny Jobu story that I will try to convey correctly. Jobu was in the bedroom. He suddenly had a brilliant plan. He would sprint full speed out of the room and then jump onto the dinning chair and then onto my shoulder bag resting on the dining table. Why? Because cat. He sprints out of the room and jumps on the chair.. but he is going to fast. He starts sliding off the chair. He attempts the second jump to the shoulder bag. He only manages to get his paws attached to the shoulder bag. Sadly for our intrepid adventurer he was still sliding off the chair. In slow motion he starts pulling he shoulder bag off the table. Jobu fell back on the chair and the bag fell on top of him. He then fell to the floor and again the bag fell on top of him. If I had filmed that I would so be making money on youtube right now.
I believe this is the first time I have every blogged twice in the same day. I have written multiple posts on the same day but never posted more than one. I would have just tacked this onto the music monday post, but I didn’t think about it until later.
Today is the shortest day of the year. Sunrise was at 7:12 this morning and sunset at 4:31. We got 9 hours 19 minutes of daylight. In six months will be the longest day of the month. Sunrise will be at 5:49 and sunset at 9:16. They daylight will be 15 hours and 27 minutes. I got this information from a great site called gaisma.
The Earth is weird and things like this fascinate me.
|+1 day||07:12||16:31||9:19||00:00 equal length||06:41||17:02||10:21||00:01 longer|
|+1 week||07:14||16:35||9:21||00:02 longer||06:44||17:05||10:21||00:01 longer|
|+2 weeks||07:15||16:40||9:25||00:06 longer||06:45||17:11||10:26||00:06 longer|
|+1 month||07:11||16:57||9:46||00:27 longer||06:42||17:27||10:45||00:25 longer|
|+2 months||06:41||17:33||10:52||01:33 longer||06:14||18:01||11:47||01:27 longer|
|+3 months||06:56||19:06||12:10||02:51 longer||06:28||19:33||13:05||02:45 longer|
|+6 months||05:24||20:26||15:02||05:43 longer||04:51||20:59||16:08||05:48 longer|
|-1 day||07:11||16:30||9:19||00:00 equal length||06:40||17:01||10:21||00:01 longer|
|-1 week||07:07||16:28||9:21||00:02 longer||06:37||16:59||10:22||00:02 longer|
|-2 weeks||07:01||16:27||9:26||00:07 longer||06:31||16:58||10:27||00:07 longer|
|-1 month||06:45||16:32||9:47||00:28 longer||06:16||17:02||10:46||00:26 longer|
|-2 months||07:11||18:03||10:52||01:33 longer||06:43||18:31||11:48||01:28 longer|
|-3 months||06:40||18:50||12:10||02:51 longer||06:13||19:18||13:05||02:45 longer|
|-6 months||05:24||20:25||15:01||05:42 longer||04:51||20:58||16:07||05:47 longer|
After the last two weeks being pretty exciting with traveling, holidays, family, and a musical this week settled into boring normality. A few things did stand out
Did I mention I have been ebaying almost everything in my place 🙂