Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chipping the Rock

I've recently become a member of myyogaonline, a website that streams yoga videos to practice at home. I earned a free month membership for being part of one of their live tapings during one of my classes. I wasn't actually in the video, but hey, I'm not about to pass up something free.

So they offer these programs: Energy Boost, De-stress Your Life, How to Eliminate Anxiety From Work, etc. They're basically a compilation of articles, videos and user insights on coping with the daily stresses that edge their way into our lives. Initially I thought this was the key. This is it. How to solve the problems of everyday life. But in going through all these "programs", I realized that they more or less said the same thing; in fact they were recycling a lot of the same articles and videos in different programs. "Eat well, exercise, and don't take shit so seriously". I kept thinking to myself, "I already know that!!! How do I actually do it???"

Then it dawned on me. I was just looking for something I hadn't heard before. I'm looking for a formula to excuse all the reasons why the past attempts failed. But the truth is the old formulas work. Make a plan and stick to it. Possibly modify it along the way. That's pretty much it. There's nothing external that can really instill discipline. It just has to come from a sincere dedication for change.

Admittedly I'm a bit of a "self-help" junkie. There's something about the way the stuff is written that appeals to troubled souls, something that instills the courage for people to believe outside of what people have told them who they are for their entire lives; probably what they've told themselves their entire lives. It makes people believe in something better. Growth. Change. Whatever will get us away from that shitty feeling of feeling inadequate.

Each New Year is filled with resolutions. We constantly tell ourselves, or perhaps, declare to our Facebook audience, "2012 is going to be MY year!", "Out with the old, in with the new" or some semblance of letting the past go and looking ahead with hope for the future. But somehow those sentiments putter out like our resolutions. Somewhere comfort and compromise creep in. I think the key is not to view these steps towards change as these grandiose monumental reformations of ourselves that happen over the course of a few days, but as small incremental promises we keep daily, maybe even hourly, like chipping away at a large boulder. So here's to gradual change, here's to staying uncomfortable, and to chipping that rock.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I love the introductions to self-help books. They're always so positive, always so promising of a "new" self that will emerge at the end of its reading. I think what's most attractive is that we all have an image of who we want to be in 5 years, a year, a month, maybe even tomorrow. Smarter, thinner, richer, the list is endless, but the only commonality between them is that they are different from who we were when we first picked up the book.

Most of the time, we never reach that ideal reformation that we visualized. Somewhere along the line we give up. Echoes of "loving yourself as you are" begin to grow louder, and soon enough it turns from an affirmation to a justification. That's pretty much how the self-help business stays in business.

"Eh, I don't need to be (fill in the blank)er, I should just be happy with how I am."

If it's a sincere sentiment, I admire the stance of those more confident than I am. But it's important to distinguish whether it's truth, or an excuse. You can usually tell by how you feel 5 days after you've given up.

Change is hard. Change is painful. Sometimes we underestimate the struggle, and overestimate our ambition. And sometimes the fantasy is better than the reality. At the very least, it's easier.