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I'm really good at rocking my fundamentals.  Except for those times when I'm not good at rocking them.

The last few days have been one of those times.

I've identified five "pillars" of personal happiness in my life:  regular exercise, a good night's sleep, a vegetable-heavy diet, creativity, and regular meditation.  There are other contributors too (connection with family and friends is a given and a loving avoidance of negativity always helps) but the first four items are my "pillars."

When I rock these fundamentals, I'm firing on all cylinders.  I'm ambitious, I'm gregarious, I'm funny, I'm effective, I'm quick to laugh, I'm energetic, I'm flexible, I'm "tuned in."  I jump out of bed in the morning with an enthusiastic fist-pump and (metaphorically) shout "YES!!" to life.

When I'm NOT rocking my fundamentals, I'm just...well..."meh."  I'm slower.  I'm quieter.  Instead of lassoing the world, I sorta just want to sit back and quietly observe.  I feel down on myself for my lack of ambition, but frankly I don't much feel like doing anything about it.

(As I type that sentence, Brian Johnson's sage voice pops into my head:  "And what does not feeling like it have to do with anything?"  UGH, Brian.  Pipe down, please.)

I read somewhere recently that if you are committed to writing, then you must write even when you don't feel like it and ESPECIALLY when you don't feel like it.

So:  today, I write.

I'll make it a quick observation.

Remember those old NutriGrain commercials where the woman eats a NutriGrain bar in the morning and "continues" making healthy choices all day long?  (She takes the stairs at work, skips dessert, goes to bed early, etc?)

I'm noticing that NOT rocking one's fundamentals has a domino effect, too.

A few days ago, I bought a half-gallon of espresso-chip ice cream because (congratulations, self!), I had been being really good about reducing my sugar intake and also:  I was PMS'ing.  Can't a girl get a little ICE CREAM once in a while?  For God's sake!!

The espresso chip before bed really screwed with my sleeping.  Which meant that I needed extra coffee in the morning.  Which meant that I wasn't super hungry at lunch, so I kinda skipped it.  Which meant that I needed a snack later, so I had some espresso chip ice cream.  Which meant that my energy levels were really low, and I hadn't missed a day of exercising in a while anyway, so I should probably give myself a break from the spin bike.  (And so on.)

If the NutriGrain people are correct, then one good decision leads to another good decision.  But it may be even more powerful to recognize thatone excuse begets many excuses.  

Let that be a lesson to me.

Brian (a new friend who also happens to be one of my mentors and an idols) encourages people to make incremental changes towards Optimal Living.  Instead of overhauling your entire life, he would ask you, "what is one thing that you KNOW you could START doing that would improve your life, and what's one thing you KNOW you could STOP doing?"

People are often looking for complex solutions to their unhappiness, when really they already know some obvious things they aught to be doing.

[Anything come to mind for you?]

A few months ago, Brian referenced the question above in passing.  I told him I KNOW I should START going to bed earlier and that I KNOW I should STOP eating so much sugar.

He reflected that the two are probably related.

(Man, he can sometimes be really annoying.  Can't I at least keep one of them?  Seriously!)

I told him that I am very cognizant of the fact that an early bedtime has an immense effect on my happiness, and yet, when 10pm, 11pm, and 12am roll around, I still resist going to bed and I don't know why.

"I'm a night owl," I justified.

"When it comes down to it," he said, "you're either going to commit to getting more sleep or you're not.  If you don't, know that you are putting a glass ceiling on your happiness potential."

If that wasn't an "AH-HA" moment, then I don't know what is.

A glass ceiling on happiness:  I'd never thought of it that way!

A word to any perfectionist or "all-or-nothing" readers who may be thinking, "but I'll never be able to rock ALL of my fundamentals ALL of the time!" (aka a "note to self"):

I have embraced Brian's wisdom, but am I executing it perfectly?  Clearly, no.  But flawless execution isn't necessarily the goal of self-improvement.  IMPROVEMENT is the goal of self-improvement.  Whereas previously it might have taken me MONTHS to realize I had broken my stride, this time it only took me a few DAYS.

That's an improvement.  Next time, it won't take me days.  (Hopefully.)

So where does this leave me?  The gym.  For real.  I am off to the gym, my Light-Loving friends.

I'm off to burst through that glass ceiling--like Mighty Mouse, but happier.  :)

***

Thoughts?  Suggestions for me?

What is one thing that you KNOW you could START doing that would improve your life, and what's one thing you KNOW you could STOP doing?

Where are you making excuses?