I’m not a believer in mantras, but if I were, this would be my new mantra:
Make Good Little Choices
Regular readers know that my anxiety problems flared up badly a week and a half ago. I’m as positive as I can hope to be that it was primarily chemical in nature, probably a result of the homeopathic remedy that was prescribed to me. But, while that may of been the trigger, the fact is that there were plenty of other mitigating factors along the way.
Those factors pretty much boil down to this: I had been making a lot of poor, little choices.
Most of life is made up of little choices. Do I check email now or start supper? Do I go to bed or log onto Facebook one more time? Do I write my lesson plan or relax with a book? Do I do dishes now, or wait until after supper? Some of these choices don’t matter, but often times the little choices infuse the bigger choices. Making poor, small choices makes it harder to make good, big choices.
I am fascinated by the NBC TV show “The Biggest Loser.” I do not, nor have I ever, struggled with weight problems, so in some ways the concept of the show is foreign to me. But, I am often surprised by how much I do have in common with the contestants chosen for the show. Those contestants chosen are taken out of their regular lives, out of their normal routines, and given the opportunity to focus solely on losing weight. They only have healthy food to eat, and as time goes on, they learn how to make it themselves. The have personal trainers who work them hard, while at the same time unwrapping their inner psyche and bad choices which led them to become morbidly obese in the first place.
I feel the most in common with contestants who have simply made lots of small bad choices over a long period of time, and who one day realize that all of those small bad choices have resulted in a really big weight problem. They weep in front of the camera, saying, “How could I do this to myself? To my spouse? To my kids? I knew better then, and I definitely know better now. I’m not going to make those mistakes again!” Above all, the contestants are all extremely grateful to be on the show, to have been given a unique opportunity to change their life for the better. Because when you’re SO used to making bad choices, it is incredibly hard to stop. Old habits die hard. At the end of seasons of “The Biggest Loser,” when the remaining contestants are sent home to continue their weight loss on their own, it is often extremely difficult for them to resist falling back into their old, unhealthy lifestyle. It’s hard to continue making good choices when, in that home environment, one is so used to making bad choices. So when the contestants are on The Ranch, away from their old lifestyles, it’s a lot easier for them to make good decisions about the choices they make.
In some way, I feel the same way about my anxiety problems. This almost-panic attack, while there were other factors involved, gave me the wake-up call I needed to become serious about making good little choices in my life. I’ve become more conscious than I can remember being in a long time of making good little choices. While I’m not perfect at it yet (and never will be), I can see improvement in my life as far as my choices go. One obvious change that regular blog readers will note is that I’m blogging less. As part of making good little choices, I’m sometimes choosing to do other, more visibly productive, things when the house is quiet in the afternoon. I hope that will continue. I’m also re-committing myself to an earlier bedtime. Yes, that’s been a struggle of mine for a long time. But, I can’t give up. I have to keep trying.
I want to make these good little choices for my children’s sake as much as for my own. A friend once told me, “Life is the accumulation of little choices. Over time they develop into patterns of behavior that reflect our character and determine our path.” I’m trying to take that good advice to heart and to make good, small decisions. It isn’t always easy, and various kinds of distractions are perpetually trying to lure me away. Those distractions are more successful than I would like them to be, but after my near-panic attack, I have a stronger impetus to resist those distractions as much as possible. I absolutely hate the feeling of not being in control of my body and my emotions, and I want to do everything in my power to avoid that experience again if at all possible.
I also know that one good decision begets another. It’s easier for me to have the willpower to resist temptation when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. It’s easier to get a good night’s sleep when I go to bed on time. It’s easier to go to bed on time when my dishes are done earlier in the evening rather than later. It’s easier to get to bed earlier when I do my computer work in the afternoon rather than the evening. It’s all a cycle of decisions. One decision affects another, and together all those little choices really add up.
Make Good Little Choices. It’s my new motto. I pray I can continue to do that better every day.