Playing My Own Game
advice indpendance personal development self development warrior spirit
I guess some people can feel adrift when they are left to their own devices, like they don't have much purpose or direction, so I don't necessarily believe that independence is always associated with happiness or productivity.
What I thought was interesting was that I seem to do even better when I actively ignore other peoples' input in my life. Going against the grain or the prevailing norms lets me see even more progress than simply setting my own agenda.
The Proud Lemming
I think the reality is that it is very easy to succumb to social pressures and to adopt those as 'your own agenda' even when there is no tangible reason to do so. There is a very strong incentive to simply adopt the common behavior as your own best choice and convince yourself that you think it's a good idea.
On the other hand, sometimes I find myself doing socially abnormal things because someone else suggested it. I might find these things novel at first, but I usually find that it becomes unsustainable. A good example was my recent adventure with cold showers. I adopted the practice of two-a-day cold showers based on Tim Ferriss's The 4-Hour Body, and honestly it worked; I had more energy during the day and slept better at night. The problem was that I think two showers a day is excessive, even if they are short, since I am used to taking 1 shower every day and a half. I do this in order to conserve water. Generally I hold environmental concerns like that at about the same priority as my health.
I also felt like I was constantly in the shower. As a creature of the desert, I don't really like being wet so frequently. So I've decided to go back to my regular schedule, which is to shower before bed on days I exercise. I will still make it a cold shower, so I sleep pretty well, but starting my day with a shower just seems too luxurious for me.
Too Much Advice is a Bad Thing
The world is full of people who will try to tell you that you're great, but you could be even greater if you just did this one extra thing. If you followed their advice all the time, you'd end up with no time and no energy, frustrated and exhausted. And the things you were already good at would fall apart. I've been caught in that trap for a while now, and it took a bit of a breakdown to help me see what was going on.
A few weeks ago, my time scheduling was totally messed up because I was trying to do too much. Then last week I was too swamped with others' projects to run my own day the way I wanted to. Add to that several new injuries I picked up because I thought I needed to be better, faster, stronger and training harder, and I was pretty freaked out. I was worried that I wasn't good enough, that I needed to push harder and keep it all together.
The truth, of course, is that I was already good enough. I already knew what was good for me. If I just accepted myself and what I had, then I could get on with the process of growing and improving, instead of constantly trying to hack my life and my body in order to grow faster. In order for me to realize my true potential, I needed to accept my current state, since my future growth would of course arise from where I am today.
It is a careful balance between acceptance and laziness. Invest in yourself and what you already value, trim away the excesses and unneeded things and habits, and then let nature take its course. This doesn't mean simply sit by and let life pass you by, making decisions based on convenience. But do the best you can for yourself, based on what you know, and let the rest lie.