when you’re honest with yourself.
you guys enjoyed this last year, so i want to revisit it. i'll catch you up on my hiking habit, then repost the steps that got me there.
with the exception of an unreasonably sweltering summer and fall, i've been hiking weekly for a year! that's amazing. even though the hike is just on Sunday mornings, i think it encourages me to spend more time outside in general, working in outdoor cafes and public parks throughout the week.
however, i am in danger of falling into a rut, because "my" trail is close to the Malibu beach, so i can stare at the ocean afterward. although this surf and turf combo is otherworldly, i'll find other trails like it.
my post hike snack game has evolved and is currently at "killer" status. i chow down on brown rice cakes with almond butter and honey topped with sunflower seeds. delicious!
on Sundays i "take my waking slow," in the words of Theodore Roethke. i sleep in a tiny bit (until 8-ish) and depending on my fruit supply i might go to the farmers market. then i putter around the house doing chores, fall down a few internet rabbit holes, write, and plan the upcoming week before evening yoga. sounds decent, right?
but lately i’ve shown up to class in terrible moods, annoyed for isolating myself at home instead of spending time outside. staying home wasn’t even a conscious decision. it was more a default activity i fell into unconsciously. nor was i aware how detrimental it was until after the fact.
while i always feel better after class, i have the capacity to feel good all the time. so, in the middle of yoga two weeks ago, i decided to go hiking every Sunday.
why should you care about my rinky-dink schedule change? because it’s an example of tuning deeply into your feelings. when i noticed my unhappiness i could’ve blamed people around me—his mat’s too close. she’s breathing funny.
but if my life depended on it, i couldn’t tell you anyone’s mat location or breath pattern during class. i leapfrogged over them to my inner ecosystem. i knew it was an inside job—it began, and had the potential to end, in me.
how to do it:
identify the issue and (gently) call yourself out
- notice one behavioral pattern you don’t like about yourself. it could be as overlook-able as your Sunday evening mood, or as pervasive as a negative self-image. but you need to be willing to see unpleasantness if you’re going to change it.
realize it doesn’t have to be this way
- you are in control of your thoughts. you’re supposed to feel good and you can decide to do so. once you get empowered life becomes like the best dark chocolate—rich and smooth. dramatic nonsense dissolves and problems are reframed.
plan the change
- keep it easy but also think it through. what are the logistics? how will you measure progress? and perhaps most importantly, what could prevent the activity from happening? list obstacles and think them through until you’ve smoothed over any pitfalls in the plan. if not, they’ll become excuses that will gobble up your willingness to change.
- in my case, i knew i couldn’t rely on others to keep me occupied and out of my head. so, my solution needed to be something i could accomplish independently. also, for years i’ve told myself i’ll get into hiking, so it had an added bonus.
notice the resistance
- what’s stopping you from getting started? once you have the lame, surface-level “explanations” out of the way—time, the weather, other people—go deeper. i have so many excuses for not hiking, which i believed for a while, but they’re actually masking how comfortable i am alone and stuck in my head.
commit to making the change, or, “whatever works.”
- in the female brain, buying an accessory for a new activity makes it official, so i bought a hat to protect myself from the sun while hiking. (plus, i needed one)
- if others are in your way and thwarting your efforts at self-improvement, are you going to let them win? why not succeed and prove them wrong? i’m not into revenge, but living well is its own reward, so don’t let them stop you.
- to hold myself accountable/gently guilt trip myself into sticking to my hiking plan, i wrote myself a reminder letter to re-read on Saturdays. it reads, in part: this is your ritual in nature. go early and be brave.
look, you made it! you either have an opinion or you're lost.
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