Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Decisions, Thoughts and Gnolls

 by Tracy Zimmer

 I have a tendency to internalize everything, and once in a while I forget how to act. Meaning, I am so lost in my own thoughts, that I forget to be nice to people who care, I don't look forward to things, and in general I wish days away, knowing (or thinking) that something better is just around the corner. For example, I am not a very talkative person, and sometimes people find it rude. I'm sorry but I don't want to have the same conversation three times and I don't want to repeat myself, but I don't aim to be rude. Sometimes I don't look forward to things, like going to class. Not that it's really all that bad, but I don't see the benefit of some "required" classes; I'd rather finish the day coaching, then sit in a room talking about things that to me, don't matter a whole lot. At least twice a week, I wish days away: the days I don't lift.

People can't be happy all the time, that's just life. When I find myself in such a lull, I usually refer to things I've read or conversations I've had to bring me back to reality. The reality is, it's all a matter of choice. We choose to say (or not say) certain things, we choose to engage in various activities, we choose what we value, and ultimately we choose how to live. Depending on where you are in life, your choices may be dependent upon responsibilities, so while you are free to choose, you are not free of the consequences.

Conversations I've had that put things into perspective usually involve hearing about someone's illness or physical inability. Especially when these people are at opposite ends of their lives--young kids, who may not get to have a ton of experiences, or older persons in constant need of assistance and just hanging on with whatever they've got left. Fact of life--people die. But have they lived? The answer to this subjective, because living depends on what you have done or plan to do and everything comes down to choice. Whether you're satisfied with that choice is another issue, because you arrived at your decision(s) based on many factors. That's right, choices are everywhere and abundance destroys satisfaction.

A while back I read a novel, The Gnoll Credo, about a pack of humanoid hyenas and their interaction with humans. They did everything with all out intensity. They didn't understand why humans got so caught up in meaningless activity: "Does being 'human' mean anything, or does it just mean that we've lost our purpose for living and tried to substitute 'bigger, better, faster, more' without knowing what we want more of--so whatever it its, it's never enough?"

These creatures had it figured out. Why not go all out?! What else is there to live for? Rather than sit on the sideline of life, people should go after things whole heartedly. The problem is, a lot of people don't know what they want. Or people know what they want, maybe they set a goal, but fail to get started or fall short reaching it because life gets in the way. Excuses, excuses.

We are given so many choices, but it's not necessarily an advantage. Think of how much time is wasted just comparing material items or looking things up? We deliberate over the options, and in the time spent just trying to reach a decision, think of what you could have been accomplished. People want to start a workout, they want to start a diet, and whatever it is people are after, they undoubtedly want something better than what they have now. So while people are deciding how to start, they're wasting time. Just get started!!

No matter how much you research or invest in finding out answers, it can't replace experience. In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz elaborates on the this topic explaining, "As the number of choices we face continues to escalate and the amount of information we need escalates with it, we may find ourselves increasingly relying on secondhand information rather than on personal experience." (One of my favorite books; I'm fascinated by the psychology of decision making.)

Experience and do things for yourself! While some people are deciding what to, others are out there doing. In my own experience of doing, I've occasionally gone wrong along the way...making choices that in retrospect, were not so good. I would venture to say that everyone has made some choices that they regret. Reality is, whatever that choice was, it's in the past. Chances are, in that moment, it was exactly what you wanted.

Personally, much of what I regret is related to not reaching goals. Not that I necessarily failed, but I did not succeed (in my opinion). Typically, the goals I value most are almost always physical (to lift a certain amount or look a certain way). The process isn't always fun, but I'd be lost without the constant challenge. So while I've made some poor choices, forgotten how to act on occasion, and wished days away, it's brought me to where I am and will keep me focused on where I'm going.
Once you realize that the choice is yours, stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop blaming other people, and stop making excuses. Whatever the circumstance, you should do things that make you happy, make you better, or help others. Make choices and move on. Live like Gnolls.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.