I’ve been particularly unenthusiastic lately. Little has excited me–and the things that have excited me haven’t excited me much. This has caused me to wake as late as possible: when I teach at 11, I wake at 9:30; on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, since I’m free to do whatever I want, I wake at eleven, noon, one, or sometimes two. Then the sun goes down a few hours later and I feel like my day has been wasted–which of course it has.
I just end up sitting there, dreading the cold outside of my soft, warm bed. I don’t have any heat on at night because it’s completely unnecessary: even if it gets down to 40 degrees or lower, it’s perfectly warm in bed. Because of this and because of who knows what else, bed has been the high point of my life lately, and today this disgusted me more than it has in a while.
I generally haven’t done anything about this lazy lifestyle, as much as I’ve wanted to change it. I’m well aware that a healthy sleep schedule is the most important thing I can do to keep myself functioning well, yet it eludes me, making me feel a victim to it. Nothing motivates me to get out of bed in the morning, so I don’t. My emotions tell me to stay in the warmth and comfort, and I don’t resist, because those emotions and lack of motivation seem to be all I am at that early hour. I often set my alarm early, but hit the snooze because, by morning, I forget how much I’ve previously regretted oversleeping. In the morning, I don’t care about any of that.
As much as I’ve resolved to wake early, I have yet to accomplish this. I found something today, though, that has inspired me in the past, and worked to inspire me today. While I woke today at noon, I proceeded from there to have as productive of a day as I could because of this text I returned to: Actualizing (A Constructive Living Approach), an article at The Eyeslit-Crypt in which my good friend Jamie responds to Dr. David K. Reynolds’s book, Reality’s Reminders.
Making this text fit his own purposes, Jamie speaks to his readers, “As you read this blog, you could be doing any number of things, but you aren’t – you’re reading this blog. Is reading this blog moving you toward where you need to go in your life? If so, please, keep reading. If not, please get on with doing what you need to do.” Reading this months ago, the article prompted me to return to my work. I had perhaps been procrastinating–taking a moment from the consistent work I had established–and could easily return to work. Today, though, I needed this. I’ve needed something, and still am unsure that today’s inspiration will help guide me to push myself from this slump, but this was very valuable today.
This article asked me to ask myself “how is what [I am] doing right now moving [me] toward [my] goals, toward where [I] want to go?” As much as I’ve felt uninspired to work towards my goals right now, I have many goals, and reaching toward them is important to me. Further articulating this, Jamie’s blog led me to another article: a discussion of what’s controllable in life.
Lets look at the list of what is not controllable: the weather, other people’s actions, other people’s opinions, the outcome of events, my thoughts, my feelings, my moods. When we look realistically at life we see that a great deal of it is not directly controllable. What is controllable, then? My own behavior is always controllable. With a very few exceptions (stuttering, trembling and impotence) my behavior, that is, what I do at all times is fully within my control. Sometimes action is difficult. For example I notice that having the flu as I write this article makes me feel lethargic; it doesn’t, however, prevent my fingers from typing the words of this lesson. Writing is possible. It is behavior. I can do that action, even while “not in the mood.” I do it because it needs to be done.
This can be a startling fact for many of us who have believed that “motivation” of some kind must precede action. What a relief to discover that I need not fix my feeling or my self esteem or my motivation in order to act. Realistically we know that life can’t be perpetually easy, comfortable, “exciting” all the time. As we gain maturity we accept this as reality. The “good news” is that my behavior is in my control at all times. I don’t need to wait for motivation, inspiration, or self esteem to act. I can act on what needs to be done because it fulfills a purpose. I can act now. My behavior is always controllable.
This discussion is incredibly basic: of course my behavior is controllable. Even so, I forget this. I grow so attached to my emotions and my lethargy that it takes over. The only real cause for lethargy, though, is previous lethargy: it perpetuates itself, slowly destroying me. Before Christmas break, all I did was work, and I enjoyed it. I was active in creating things and fulfilling my goals, and that continued activity inspired me. Taking a vacation from those goals shifted me into a new mode of living that is without them, and I’ve struggled to return since then. Without activity, I seem to only want to continue that inactivity. Inactivity, though, fills me with dread and ennui. It makes me want nothing. The cure to this ennui will be understanding that my emotions, while uncontrollable, contribute nothing to my action. No matter what I’m feeling, I can always act towards my goals. No matter how warm and comfortable my bed feels, I can leap out of it and into my day.
Seeing this articulated is inspiring, and writing this out is inspiring. I don’t know if articulating these simple but difficult truths will help me in the future, but it helped me today, and perhaps it will help others stumbling on this unknown blog. Perhaps I should repeat these quotations and simple truths to myself before bed so that I can remember them when I wake: perhaps repitition will engrain them in my brain.
Either way–whatever successes or failures stand in my future–writing in this blog is positive, whether or not anyone else finds what I write worthwhile. I previously wanted this blog to be entertaining and interesting to others, but I don’t care about that anymore. All I care about is committing to writing here weekly, and making positive posts. I think committing to that will generally be positive for me, especially while still somewhat mired in negativity: if I resolve to create something positive every week, even if it’s only dull journal-style writing, this blog should have a positive influence on my life, and it should help me grow out of this negativity. This negativity and laziness is only indicative of past choices, not those I can make in the future: while this negativity and laziness has weighed on my emotions, positive choices will shift those emotions so that making positive and productive choices will come easier. I can’t change my emotions directly, by snapping my fingers or resolving to be inspired, but by ignoring them when choosing my behaviors and actions, I can guide them to correspond with what I want my life to be.