"I can't stay tonight. I have to work early in the morning.", she told us.
"Hey, don't lie to me. You don't have to do anything. You choose to work tomorrow morning. So why not choose to stay for another drink? 😉 "
I thought I was just teasing when I said it. That it was just a slightly dickish way of letting a stranger know I enjoyed her company. But now that I think of it, it's actually a very useful distinction to remind yourself of all the time. And here's why:
The exact thoughts you have in our head every day have a huge impact on how you live your life. Both in practice and experientially.
For example: If there's always a voice in your head telling yourself that you're no good ...That you shouldn't even bother trying to get your degree, ask that guy out, or learn to play the cross-grainger kangaroo-pouch tone-tool because you're destined to fail anyway ....Then you probably won't take a lot of action in your life.
Or another one: You can be blessed with a harem full of people you love hanging out with, all the money in the world ,and a free lifetime supply of chocolate pudding. But if on the inside you keep telling yourself you don't deserve any of it, you'll never be happy.
So it's obvious that we should always choose our thoughts wisely.
And that's where my comment about work comes in.
Even though I was joking when I said it, it's still true. You never have to work the next morning. It's always a choice. But to be fair, it's also a very smart choice. Because choosing not to do it can have serious consequences. So unless you feel like the negative consequences of not going are worth it, it's obvious that it's always better to go. Even though you still don't have to 😉
This may sound like a stupid matter of semantics, but it's not. It makes all the difference in how you feel about it. When you choose to work because you like being on top of your proverbial shit, it feels much less of a drag than when you tell yourself "Urgh. Why do I have to do this every day?"
When it comes to work, most people have no problem sticking with it. Because there are many external consequences involved and people will get angry at you. So the difference in impact between the thoughts you have about it is mainly an emotional one.
But when it comes to sticking with good habits and kicking bad ones, a lot more can go wrong.
We all have this friend who's on a diet that causes them a lot of stress (and a lot of us have been there too, I definitely have). They walk around in the supermarket saying "Oh. I can't eat this. I can't eat that. I want to have a soda but I can't do that. Life sucks. Existence is pain."
These thoughts are actually so common that people generally think that's how diets work. That they're these restrictive things that take away your freedom. But that's actually not true at all.
When I ate a vegan diet, people would ask me "Can you still eat this?" When I order water in some bar, almost every single time people will start asking me things like "You can't drink alcohol??? You can't eat sugar?? Not even in drinks? That sounds horrible. How do you still enjoy life when you can't do all those things?"
It always makes me laugh inside. "What do you mean I can't? I can eat whatever the fuck I want. I could eat that stupid grin off your face if I wanted. I just choose not to do it right now."
And that's true about almost everything. The problem is that when you tell yourself you "can't" do something, or that you have to follow certain "rules" in your life, it will always cause you a lot of stress.
And what do you think you'll do to cope with that stress?
Most of the time it will be exactly the thing you told yourself you couldn't do 😉 Eat a pot of ice cream because you "deserve it" after being so hard on yourself for weeks. Smoke a cigarette because you can't take it anymore. Or skip the gym for a few weeks because you feel burnt out. And that's only a normal reaction. Put a present in front of a six-year-old and tell him he can have it but he can't look inside the box. What do you think she'll do?
It sounds almost too simple to be true, but merely changing the thoughts you hold about the habits you're trying to keep makes it much easier to succeed. Just tell yourself that...
• You don't have to eat healthy, you just want to because it's good for you.
• You can smoke as many cigarettes as you want, you just choose not to do it.
• You don't have to go to the gym, you don't have to go to meetings. You don't have to do anything or be anywhere. But you find a lot of these things important and they are good for you (or future you). So you simply choose to do them.
You are happy with those choices because you know you've made them yourself. And if you have a good reason to, no one's stopping you from doing something else. 😉
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