Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yes vs. no

I recently read a post on Daily Health News, which cited a study that found Seventh-Day Adventists who are vegetarians rate themselves happier than fellow church members who eat meat. The researchers said the vegetarian diet elevated their mood. The writer was making the case that these vegetarians are comfortable saying "no" to themselves when it comes to food, and that it is this self-control that helps make them happier people.

Interesting premise and one I have been giving a lot of thought since I read the post. I have been super busy the last three weeks. Last Saturday I allowed myself one hour of downtime, and I felt so guilty, I took 30 minutes. I am busy at work, busy with freelance assignments -- all of which I love -- but I am also busy at home. Last week I had to cancel three yoga classes because of commitments, and I despised doing that.

And don't even talk to me about my house. It is a nightmare. We are painting one bedroom, the extra stuff from that bedroom is in another bedroom, and I am trying to change my closet over to winter clothes. Let's not even mention my office, or my built-in 6-year-old fridge that died Sunday.

And guess what this has led to: BAD food choices. I have no time to plan, and the thought of cutting up vegetables is too much for my brain to absorb. Of course, there is not much real food in my house since everything from our built-in fridge is crowded into our small garage refrigerator, bought at the same time at Home Depot for $250 and is still going strong. But I digress.

I just need to say "NO" more often. Loud and clear.

On the post, they talked to life coach Lauren Zander, who said that saying yes to anything and everything is not freedom. Instead, it is a guarantee to bring trouble. "To accomplish anything important or wonderful in your life means that you’ll inevitably have to deny yourself," Zander adds. "Implicit in every choice is the loss of other choices... and that is where real freedom lies -- in being able to say no to yourself."

Zander says that the parts of our lives in which we feel the most dissatisfaction tend to be the ones in which we practice the least self-control. (Like my weight?) Organization and a plan bring control.

Her advice: pick out an area that isn’t going well, one you’re not so fond of discussing, one you’re not so happy about but don’t think you have the power to change. Zander urges: "Literally verbalize aloud the reason you handle this area poorly." She said that she can virtually guarantee that the first word will be "because"... and, she says, you must pay attention to what comes next. That will be what she calls "the Big Lie" -- the fallacy that keeps you stuck where you are.

This is most especially true when what follows your "because" is "this is just the way I am."

The good news: We can change if we put effort and discipline into transforming a part of our life. And if successful, it will make us feel proud of yourself and more in control.

I'm all over this. So I am giving myself some homework:
1. I'll say "no" to one event between today and Sunday.
2. I will put that free time to good use by turning my closet over and painting one wall in the bedroom (it's a big one!)
3. I will visualize what I am most unhappy about -- my weight -- and do the "because and what comes after" exercise.

And I would wager a bet: I will find more time to fit in the things I love to do, and that includes cutting up vegetables. Just writing this down makes me feel so much more in control.

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