The why you do the things you do

The turning of a new year is always an interesting time. Where Christmas finds us packed firmly in the loving arms of family and friends, New Years Eve is the launching point from which we spring from the nest, alone, into a brave new year.

A brave new year in which we will do great things.

For exactly 10 days.

We will then be allowed a “cheat day”, and the downhill slide will soon follow.

I’ve never been the New Years Resolution sort, mostly because I’m too lazy and unprepared to just suddenly “work out five times a week”, “give up drinking”, or “stop eating carbs”. I know I’m going to fail at whatever goal I’ve set, so I don’t even try. This might sound defeatist, and I get that.

But to me it’s pointless to set such standards for myself, because I know myself. In order for me to make any meaningful change, I need to know my “why” first. I need to know why I do it, before I can change it.

In yoga, and in many other philosophies, there is the concept of self-study. I think this is a way better use of a person’s time, where making change is concerned. I think the area that gets glossed over in New Years resolutions is an important one to consider: how did you get to the place you are? Why do you want to lose 20 pounds, or stop drinking beer, or write in your diary every day? How did you get here?

What is it about the way you currently spend each day, that has gotten you to a place you feel change is necessary? You certainly didn’t end up 20 pounds heavier than you want to be, and unhappy with what you see in the mirror, because there is balance in your life. (Sorry to be blunt.)

Incremental changes have most likely gotten you here.

Incremental changes will most likely get you out.

You’ve slowly sunk into your fabulous overstuffed Couch of Life. And you brought popcorn.

But instead of demanding of yourself that you suddenly drop 20 pounds, perhaps it is worth a long look as to why exactly you want or need to lose 20 pounds. Why did you sink so deeply into that couch? Why did you bring popcorn? Did it need a whole stick of melted butter too?

You might find that the habit you need to change is not that you should suddenly start going to the gym every day at 5am (because probably that’s a hard sell when the time comes), but instead that you should just stop eating dessert with every meal. Maybe the change doesn’t need to be so jarring.

I read somewhere a long time ago, that if you want to know why you do something, you should stop doing it for a day. See where your mind goes. See what that digs up.

New Years resolutions are fun party talk, sure, and there’s a certain weird wickedness to suddenly denying oneself, hopping on the straight and narrow, whipping that booty into shape, but I say there really is also tremendous value in just learning the “why”.

Why is this particular noise so loud in your world right now? Is it just because it’s almost January 1st? Listen to how silly that sounds for a moment. Were you not unhappy with your weight back in August too?

I say make your resolution. Set your goal. And once the resolution has been made, step back and watch what happens. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t berate yourself for not wanting to go to the gym, or for feeling hopeless after a week. The concept of self study recognizing when you’ve become uncomfortable, and to discern why. Just ask yourself why you feel this way. You can even do this exercise from your couch. With popcorn. All the butter you want, for now.

You can let yourself off the hook by being real about it. You can make a better plan, one that will actually benefit you, by not requiring a full 180 from yourself. If that 180 were comfortable, wouldn’t you already be there? So why isn’t it comfortable? The part that intrigues me is the “why”. Why are you here right now? How can you be more comfortable?

To me there are few things more inspiring, compelling, magnetic, and downright sexy than a person who knows themselves inside out.

I think there is so much strength and integrity in a long and loving look at how weak we can be sometimes.


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