Same Crap, Different Toilet

I had a friend who used that phrase a lot, to describe, what Alcoholics Anonymous describe as “insanity.” Insanity, by the AA definition, is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yet, how easy is it for us to be “insane,” to get into a rut, immersing ourselves in systems that destroy us, and yet the only “solutions” we seek are to move within the system itself. I can think of many examples, a few I have listed below.

Some friends I know find themselves very frustrated with emotion-driven charismatic churches. So, they shift from charismatic church to charismatic church, looking for the one that is not going to make them feel weird for not being emotional, all the while not realizing that it is the system itself the problem, because it is the nature of charismatic churches to be emotional. I went through this myself. Before I finally became Catholic, from 1998-2004 I attended many parishes, and was very restless. I think the reason was that I was not comfortable in the systems I was in (evangelical and Episcopal). For some people, these systems are great, but they weren’t for me, until finally it became obvious that shifting from church to church in the same system was part of the problem itself.

Another example is relationships. I have heard so many times “I only meet jerks; I can’t meet nice guys/girls.” In fact, I uttered this many times myself. However, when I eventually reflected upon it, I realized that if *I* only meet people that aren’t good for me, then something is wrong with the way I meet people, not people themselves.

Finally, I think of people who are deep into the party scene. I have some facebook friends whose status updates are a mix of “can’t wait to get drunk tonight” and “I hope life actually has some meaning this week.” The “solutions” they propose (and put into action) to this lack of meaning include partying more and hanging out with more “party people,” which basically get them deeper into the system that caused the problem to begin with. Finding meaning in this case involves something more difficult than getting drunk every weekend.

Of course, this is actually great news, not bad news. It means that even though it may seem that life isn’t fair, the reality is that our choices are what are limiting us. Although not always easy, we have the ability to get out of systems that limit us. Medical researchers have found that one difference between positive people and negative people is the way they respond to setbacks. Negative people consider a setback a personal attack, lash out at others while blaming themselves, and see no solution to the setback. Positive people see setbacks as unrelated to their character, and view unfortunate situations as problems that can be overcome through ingenuity and effort. In other words, negative people see endless quagmires, positive people see ways forward. While the negative person is moping about how life isn’t fair, and perhaps looking for a different toilet for the same crap, the positive person is replacing the crap.

Workout Tip #5: Get Motivated (Part 2)


I previously wrote about the importance of motivation and how to use short term motivation. Here are a few of my ideas for long term motivation. They are similar to the short term ones in many ways, just more focused on the…well…longer term.

Visualize Yourself– While the first short term technique was to visualize your immediate goal, this is more about visualizing your healthier, fitter self. What do you want to look like? Feel like? Imagine it and remind yourself of that each and every time you are tempted to skip your workout or even eat un-healthily. Which image would you rather date? Or hang out with? Be?

Look at your old or current self– In addition to your new image, remind yourself what you don’t want to look like.Keep a “fat” photo of yourself close by at all times. When you feel tempted to avoid workouts look at it. Is this really what you want to be?

Find a deeper reason– Looks are not everything, even though they we’d be lying if we said they didn’t matter. But, there are deeper and more important things in life: family, friends, health, happiness. Pick one or more of these and remind yourself of them every time you want to slack. Maybe it’s the grandson you want to see graduate high school or the ability to golf (or live) past 45.

The photos are ones of me (the first poorly manipulated) to illustrate the first two principles. If anyone has any more tips that work for you, please share in the comments.


Workout Tip #5: Get Motivated!

Motivation…whether it’s to clean our room or mow our lawn, it’s not easy and to be honest, it’s probably not the same for everyone. But, motivation has to be at the root of successful workouts. As I mentioned in a previous post, you can’t even start to exercise if you don’t get to the gym, get off the couch, etc. I know it sounds very mental and working out is supposed to be physical, but inspiration is just as important as perspiration when it comes to losing weight (my apologies to Thomas Edison).

Admittedly, I am to the point now where I am simply motivated as a matter of fact. I don’t say this to brag, but I don’t really think about it; I simply do it. But, it wasn’t always that way. Unless working out has become a life habit, motivation remains an important component. So, here are a few of my suggested motivational tips (note: I’ve not actually used all of these, but figure they’d be good). Today I’m going to discuss more short term tips and next week, I’ll write part two which will detail more long term motivational tips.

Short Term:

Visualize it– Visualize what you want to accomplish at that very moment. If your goal is to go to the gym, then don’t let yourself even consider going home to sit on the couch. Keep focused and see yourself at the gym, on the bike, etc.

Filter out the noise– Life is really busy and it’s easy to think that all the little things pulling at us are more important than working out. Remove the deadlines, the home stress, and everything else from your mind. Exercise (which helps focus anyway) should be a big priority, which means that the little things vying for our daily attentions should not lead us to avoid exercise.

Remind yourself of the immediate benefits– I overheard a guy at the YMCA say how he’s never (except when sick) left the YMCA feeling worse than when he came in. He meant that although it may have been a pain to drag himself in, he always felt better after exercising. I can completely affirm his statement. Remind yourself of the immediate, great feeling that you get when you workout.

More coming next week, so check back!