As I mentioned in a previous post (An Early Riser, me?), I do a set of activities every day. As I look at this paradigm of “Every Day”, at both the things I do every day, and the things I don’t, I realize that there is real magic in “Every Day.”
I’ve been getting up even earlier for the last week or two, at 4:30AM. But one night I didn’t get in bed until after 1AM. So I set the alarm for 5AM. I got up, but I was really tired!
I went into our “serenity room” to get started on my Morning of Mindfulness, and my mind kept saying things like, “You’re too tired, you could skip exercises today.”, “Skip the pushups.”, “You don’t have to play guitar.”, “You’ll fall asleep meditating, only do it for a few minutes.”
But I ignored all those suggestions and went through my routine, just as I do every day. The Morning of Mindfulness invigorated me and I went on to have a happy and high-energy day.
What I realized was that there was no decision to make: I always do these things, so I did them. Contrast that to things that I don’t do every day, but try to do “a few times a week”, like walking. Walking is probably the best form of exercise for general health, quality of life and longevity. I’d like to walk a lot, but I haven’t found a place to work it into my daily schedule. So I say that I’ll walk at least three times a week. But what ends up happening is that since I don’t have to walk on any given day, it leaves me open to saying, “today’s not the day, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Even if it’s a perfunctory version of the thing I’m trying to do, just doing something every day will instill the habit. I read once that if you want to exercise and are having a hard time doing so, don’t make a pact with yourself to exercise, but only to get dressed to exercise. That is, if you want to go running, all you need to be sure you do is to don the shorts, put on the running shoes. If you do those things no matter what, then chances are you’ll go running too. For me, I think what I’ll do is do some sort of walk every day. Even if that’s around the block once, or even up the street and back. Chances are if I do that, I’ll want to continue doing it for a few more minutes. My goal is to walk 15 minutes a day.
The lesson, for me at least, is to figure out what is worthwhile to do, and to schedule a time to do those things every day.