Change is hard. It’s been more than a week since I instituted the “no food in front of the TV” change. I’ve done well with it. In the late ate afternoon, I often need a snack. If I’ve been on my feet or bike seat much of the day, I seem more likely to succumb to a snack, on the couch, and with a quick fix of TV entertainment. By dinner, I’m back to being fine with the dinner table.
This brings me to my third big change. It was supposed to be the gradual elimination of coffee from my day. Coffee in the morning is almost more of a ritual for me than a dependence. Of the 4 scoops of grounds I use to make my two mugs-worth, only one scoop contains caffeine. Coffee is a way to start my day slowly – sitting, sometimes reading, sometimes writing on my Surface, sometimes making a list of what I want to accomplish over the next few days, some days, it’s all three, others, I get distracted right off the bat and it’s none. Without that ritual, I go straight into thoughtless doing. Before I know it, the morning is gone. At that point, making a list seems futile, so I don’t. I’m more likely to spend the day overdoing it in the yard and overworking my shoulder before I realize it. No meditation, no exercise, no thoughtfulness, just doing.
I need to come up with a third big change, or perhaps let that one go. After all, I’ve changed a lot of things in my life in the last 12 months.
Or perhaps, instead of taking something away, adding something positive to my day, like meditation, might be a better choice. Hmm, some further deliberation is required, and perhaps a re-reading of that chapter.
The second installment of Changing Your Behavior (continuing with ‘the not so big life’ by Sarah Susanka) is one that I will definitely have to keep for 6 months. I’ve had at least shoulder length hair for way more than half of my life. I’ve told myself that it was mostly so that I could always choose to wear my hair up.
Well, Thursday I had it cut.
These days I find myself working to look as young as I feel. I don’t feel “my age”, so why should I look it! I know that some people feel it’s vanity to want to look at least good, if not your best. Looking back on my childhood and adolescence, I feel that my “cuteness” was the “quality” my parents admired most in me. Of course, the same turned out to be a double-edged sword when Mom also attributed the meanness other girls bestowed upon me, to my cuteness as well. Despite the fact that with some, looking good puts me at a disadvantage, I feel better when I look better.
I imagine, that many who felt that they did not look “good” in their family’s or peers’ eyes chose to not care, or even to neglect their outward appearance. They might have even held resentment for those that did look “good” in a conventional sense. The interesting part is that none of us controls what we were given in terms of our appearance, only what we choose to do with it from that point forward. Even within the same gene pool, outcomes can be quite different. To hold someone’s looks for or against them, no matter the perspective from which we perceive someone, is akin to judging someone for their parent’s or grandparent’s political beliefs and whether or not they align with our own.
While it may not be “right” to perceive people differently based on their looks, it’s something that is still difficult to avoid, at the very least on the receiving end. Whether you go with the status quo and place more value on "conventional" beauty, or go anti-establishment and prefer the "unconventional", you’re still letting appearance affect your decisions. Some people perceive the world around them from more of a visual perspective than others. For them, noticing how someone or something looks, often happens so quickly, there’s barely an opportunity to reflect. For others, it may not permeate their consciousness, but their subconscious or unconscious mind takes notes and provides more subtle ques to their response.
There’s an old story about a town with two barbers: one’s hair is haphazardly cut, the other, precisely cut. Who do you choose to give you a haircut? Let’s assume they charge the same amount, do you choose the haphazardly styled barber, assuming he cuts the other barber’s hair and vice versa, or do you choose the precisely styled barber, imagining that he understands the possible ramifications of looking your best, and that the less kempt barber chooses to cut his own hair? Or do you choose the barber that most represents your values? Your answer directly reflects your perception of the situation. Perception is personal. It doesn’t mean that your view is right and those in opposition are wrong. It doesn’t mean you’ll get the results you desire, or if you do, that those making the opposite choice will surely be disappointed with their results. Nothing about this quandary is factual. It’s all supposition and perception. There’s no “knowing” whether you will make a right or wrong choice. Obviously, this is slanted from my perception that more "conventional" appearances will work for more situations and that is more desirable, but that's just me!
Do you leave room in your life for people that are different from you, or do they get a strong sense of your disapproval and distance themselves? I’m not saying that someone wildly different from you is the best candidate for a best friend, however, you might be able to learn things from each other and gain an appreciation for your perceptions.
More on ‘the not so big life’ by Sarah Susanka: For the chapter I most recently finished, the exercise at the end was titled Changing Your Behavior. For this exercise the reader was to pick 3 things to change about their life for the next 6 months. Before making decisions, she gives the reader questions regarding things about their appearance and routines they follow. From the list of responses these questions evoked, the reader is to rank them from one to 5 regarding how attached they are to them, “with 5 being the most attached and one being the least attached”. The next decision was which 3 items to change in my life.
My first pick is to stop eating while watching TV, and to eat at either a dining height table or kitchen bar instead, sans TV even as a background. This choice is definitely a 5 for me. For as long as I can remember I have eaten meals in front of the TV. When I was a kid there was a TV in the kitchen, where we ate the majority of our meals. Much of my adult life I have taken my meals to the room with the TV. Without children in my life, there simply has rarely been a need to move dinner to the dining table.
As both a reward and an enticement to change this thoroughly engrained habit, I decided I would buy a bouquet for the dining room table. Flowers are not something I often splurge on. This normally occurs only when the daffodils appear in the grocery Floral Department. I can't resist their happy little faces, and am encouraged by the spring weather they forecast. Much to my delight, I found this beautiful bouquet discounted to $2.50. Really, it’s huge. Bigger than anything I had in mind. It’s already lasted two days with very few losses. To me, finding an amazing deal on something I wouldn’t normally have bought is serendipitous! Added bonus: I’ve only watched 1 hour of TV in nearly 3 days.