If you slow down long enough to consider why you do what you do, you’ll probably be amazed and disturbed at the same time. I’m reading a book that’s jerking me around like that, The Power of Habit. It’s delivering the one-two punch of amazement and disturbance. I was listening to an interview, recently, on one of those network morning talk segments that stirred my curiosity so much, I went straight to Amazon and ordered. I have a love/hate relationship with my new book.
What I’m learning is this; habit is established based on the craving for the end result more than the end result itself. This is fascinating and confusing at the same time. I’m fascinated because studies show the reason people habitually exercise is they crave the endorphins and other neurochemicals they get from the work out and the sense of accomplishment that comes when they’re cooling down. I’m confused because after I exercise, all I want to do is lie down and drink a big glass of sweet tea, which most likely cancels out all the calories I just burned. Forget the endorphin rush.
Exercise for me is driven more out of a burning sense of guilt than desire. I go in seasons of really committed or really full of excuses, one extreme or the other. A friend posted on Facebook the other day she started out her birthday with an eight mile run. My son Travis just shaved 13 minutes off his best half marathon time. Those two things alone raised my guilt level higher than the excuses.
I hadn’t laced up my walking shoes in a few weeks, ok, a few months, so I got them out. No sense of craving hit, but it was a beautiful day and I was looking forward to simply being outside. Where I live there’s barely 25 yards of flat ground which, in my sense of reasoning, is a logical excuse for not walking. However, for every uphill there is a downhill where I can regroup and stop gasping.
I was in a downhill-stop-panting phase when I noticed something unusual. I stopped. Growing out of the crack between the asphalt road and the concrete curb were two wild daisies. The strangest thing was there were no other daisies anywhere around. They were oddly out of place.
I took a picture, smiled and kept walking. I wondered how those flowers ever got there and how they managed to grow. More than likely bird poop deposited the seeds for them to get started and, even though they look delicate, they have enough gumption and grit to keep going.
This is what dawned on me while on my guilt induced walk: it doesn’t matter how you got there, or what you have to work with, do the best you can, with what you have, right where you are.
A habit established by an endorphin rush or not, I should keep on walking. There’s a lot to learn out there.