It was the morning of January 6, and the weather had finally turned bitter cold. Typically when it is below 20 degrees outside, I head to the gym to get my running done. This is a challenging transition for me, as I love to run outside. However, returning to the treadmill is a necessity to keep on moving, especially through winter and the holidays.
I struggled to get up, fighting the resistance I was feeling, upset that I couldn’t go running outside like I wanted. But, it was 3 degrees. This went on for the rest of the week. Each time the alarm went off, I resisted, and I didn’t go. Finally, it was Saturday, and I realized that something had to change. I had to find a way to increase my motivation and get back on track. Plus, I get a little “scratchy” to be around when I don’t run. Finally, I made a plan: Tuesday, no matter what, I will get up and go. I made my plan, told my wife, and did it.
Now, weeks later, I am so relieved that I didn’t stay in the not-doing place, where it becomes impossible to overcome that feeling of starting again. It’s easier to get back in the saddle when there has only been a short pause. This is what the concept of “move a muscle, change a thought” is all about. Sounds so simple, right? Just change your attitude. Go for walk. Chill out. Find something to do. Stop being bored.
When all is said and done, we have to work with what we are willing to do. I might not want to go for a five mile run at my fastest pace, but I am willing to go four miles at more leisurely pace. You may really dislike going to the gym, but would totally be into going for a long hike or short walk in the woods. Starting from a point of honesty, openness, and willingness will help you to change. I can’t help but notice that when I am walking, hiking, running, helping another human being, playing guitar, or even meditating that I have a harder time stewing in my stuff. Action takes care of the side of my brain that keeps me inactive.
Action is, in its own way, undeniable evidence that we are capable of changing our situation, that we have the “courage to change the things we can.” We all need evidence of success, and whether that comes from ourselves or from another human being, moving forward will lead us to taking another step. One of my favorite musicians, Michael Franti, has a song called “One Step Closer to You.” My favorite lyric in the song goes like this:
“Even when I’ve fallen down
My heart says follow through
I’ll take one step closer.”
“Moving a muscle, changing a thought” is a slogan that is complicated, and yet, so very simple. I have often found that if I invite other humans into my muscle-moving then it keeps me accountable and motivated to keep taking new steps forward.
Research in the field of neuroscience and positive psychology suggest that we can change our brains through changing our actions. People say “I’ve got to get my head right” or “fake it till you make it.” We can actually change the way in which we think, feel, perceive, and talk simply by taking small action steps that lead us closer to our goals.
My suggestion/advice is:
- Find something that you want to do
- Practice it
- Create a disciplined routine around it
- Use that discipline as a foundation for other types of activities that are healthy and productive
- Even if you don’t want to do the other healthy and productive activities, you can rely on the confidence built by the first routine to ensure that you are capable and that if you stick with it, it will bring positive results
- Find others who will support, encourage, rouse, and cajole you into taking those new steps
If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help. Reach out to Mountainside by calling 888 833 4676.