Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seriously deep revelations on doing vs. being

A while back on my blog I remember declaring that the difference between being Paleo and just eating the healthiest way you know how based on your current understanding of nutrition was that the latter was kind of boring. It's just a more interesting mind-set to tell yourself that you're eating a different way now because you're a different kind of eater.

I might have been on to something there. We've all heard about how we humans have a limited amount of willpower and that each decision we make saps a bit more of it. That's why you can have an insanely productive morning and then spend the last three hours of your day in a trance in front of your computer switching among Facebook, Google Reader, and eBay in between tiny spurts of work. (And when I say "you," I mean "me." And when I say "day," I mean "yesterday.") But you know what? While I may have a Facebook problem—and a blog problem, and a developing online shopping problem—I quit Twitter cold turkey over a year ago, and it doesn't take the slightest bit of willpower to stay away from it. It's not that I didn't enjoy Twitter. I just decided I wasn't the type of person who had time to waste on it.

There's some kind of magic to deciding what kind of person you are, rather than what you're going to do. For example, I'm not the type of person who smokes or gambles or runs up credit card debt, so avoiding those activities costs me absolutely nothing from the willpower bank. This year I decided I'm not the type of person who worries about her weight, so now I don't get on the scale. I didn't have to move it out of the bathroom or put a little sign on it; I just don't think about it. And at some point we decided we're the type of family who cooks and eats dinner together, and not the kind who goes to a restaurant just because we're too tired or too lazy to cook.

As an example from the flip side, I found it ridiculously hard to "suffer for 15 minutes a day" to work on organizational projects. (Remember that?) That's a "doing" resolution, and I might as well declare it dead, since it died the day I got all the file folders off my office floor.

I'm going to think carefully about this, though. It might just be that I am an organized person who takes care of those kinds of tasks without a little rule. I feel a manifesto coming on.


  1. serendipity. ya gotta love it.

    I've been struggling with ...well... all manner of things really. but. yesterday I came across an exercise from PN (hence the serendipity notation) that had us write down: "A fit person chooses to [fill in the blank] and therefore as a fit person I choose to [fill in the blank] today."

    Exactly the way you see yourself as a person who no longer uses twitter. Or as a person who no longer obsesses about your weight.

    I remember thinking at the time. well duh. because it seemed obvious.

    obvious, yes. until you forget. and then we're left waffling in the wind having to decide if in fact we really want to step on that scale. or log in to twitter. or not do that workout.

    by identifying with a "type" we jump into that ready-made psyche and no longer have to deal with the brain monkeys who try and dissuade us from our task. because we already know. we DO that. we ARE that.

    hmmm... manifesto indeed!

    1. Be sure to share if you come up with some helpful "I'm the kind of person who…" statements. Some seem to work better than others.

      And I think you were on the right track about starting things like this with a "clean house," so to speak. If I could ever get my house totally clean for just a day, I *think* I could be the type of person who never walks past a weed.

  2. P.S. Something else kind of interesting that I forgot to mention. Occasionally I have a legitimate reason for needing to get onto Twitter (and I still have an account). But when I go there, it's no problem to look up what I need and then close it again—I don't get sucked down a rabbit hole of trying to catch up on all the funny tweets. In other words, it's not an all-or-nothing kind of thing, just a healthy relationship with the once-addictive website. Same with the scale. I could get weighed at the doctor's office or something, and I'd be mildly interested to know what I weighed, it would not "ruin" my lack of obsession with weight. That's why I think there's something kind of magical about thinking this way.

  3. Oh my gosh, I love the line, 'There's some kind of magic to deciding what kind of person you are, rather than what you're going to do.'

  4. I'm totally inspired from this entry so thank you for writing it. :)