Are you tempted to give up when you're not perfect with your diet?
A few questions for you on this lovely Wednesday…
1. Do you think underperforming students who are paired with students who excel in school (even though at times, they might feel inferior to the better student) do better or worse than those underperforming students who aren’t paired with anyone?
Wow that was a long sentence. (Read that again if need be. I’ll wait…)
Here’s another one for you…
2. Do you think small business owners (who want to own a large business) who are paired with successful large business owners (even though at times, they might feel inferior to the big business owner) do better or worse than those small business owners who only hang around other small business owners?
In Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project – she set all sorts of resolutions for herself in order to try to make herself happier. (Spoiler alert: it worked!)
However, towards the end of her one year project she noticed that in some ways, she made herself less happy. How so?
Well, because she was trying to improve, she was more aware of her faults and so she felt more disappointed when she slipped up.
In her excellent book, she writes, “Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy, and a heightened awareness of my failings, though salutary, wasn’t bringing me happiness in the short term – but in the long term, I was sure, I’d be happier as a consequence of behaving better.”
She was comforted by the words of Benjamin Franklin:
“On the whole, though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet as I was, by the endeavor, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have been had I not attempted it.”
I’ve said many times ignorance is bliss. Because once we’re aware of something, it’s hard to ignore it.
Sure, it’d be “easier” to eat whatever we want all day. Especially, if we don’t know any better.
But we all do know better, of course — otherwise we wouldn’t be reading this! And when there’s knowledge and/or desire without action, unhappiness ensues.
When we’re trying to improve something, we become aware of everything in that aspect. We notice what we focus on. The good and the bad.
When we make the inevitable not so good choices (we’re not robots!) we feel extra bad about it because we’re so aware of it.
And our rationalization du jour becomes, “Ugh, if I can’t eat and exercise like my “ideal” self, why bother at all?”
In other words: If I can’t be perfect why bother?
Rationally, we know this is silly.
The frustration we might feel can be very uncomfortable. I know. However, that frustration (aka growth) is far more tolerable than doing nothing.
We’re going to face discomfort either way. The discomfort of regret or the discomfort of growth. One is lasting. The other is temporary and pays off in the end.
Besides, our desire to be healthy and fit doesn’t go away. We just try to cover it up with rationalizations to remove that short term discomfort. However, when we look to avoid short term discomfort (aka growth) we wind up becoming deeply uncomfortable later on.
I’m convinced (along with many, many others) trying will lead to far greater happiness than just accepting where we’re at and doing nothing because it’s uncomfortable not being “perfect”.
There’s no such thing as perfection anyway. This isn’t about “never” doing anything again (aka habits that drain our energy). Or doing something “every single day” (aka habits that give us energy). It’s about doing less or more.
It’s only about progress, and that feels awesome.
More awesome than just hoping and wishing.