Last week, I wrote about Acknowledging and Accepting your current reality as “what it”. I suggested you look at yourself from a completely objective and non-judgmental perspective. Most people have never done this as an older adult, and it’s value is beyond measure.
This week I am writing about your Willingness to define and create a new reality for yourself.
Two years ago next month, while Energy Bites was still being published as a newsetter and distributed as a PDF attachment to emails, I wrote a piece about the second Vitality Element: Willingness. I’ve re-written that article with a significantly different slant and am republishing it as a new article here.
You’ve heard the old expression, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” That’s true with humans too. You can have all the tools in the world at your disposal to accomplish a job, but unless you are willing to pick them up and use them, the job remains undone.
What is it about ourselves that stops us from doing the the things we know we can and should be doing to improve our own personal energy and vitality? And why do we keep doing the things we know we shouldn’t be doing (not moving, eating junk, etc)? Although Philosophers and Psychologists have been debating the reasons for thousands of years, the answers keep coming up the same: Our “reasons why” are not strong enough to overcome our “reasons why not”. Our willingness is simply not strong enough to overcome the “reasons why not”. In our minds, the pain of effort is much stronger than the pleasure we would get from feeling vital and filled with energy. The pain I speak of is an emotional sort of pain rather than physical pain. In other words, in our minds, the good feelings and health benefits we would get from healthy habits and actions aren’t a good enough “reason why” to take the time and effort to change them, and we are simply not willing to make the effort.
Is this some new theory? Hardly. The pain vs. Pleasure theory of human motivation has been around forever. For example:
John Locke, 17th century British political and educational philosopher said”
“Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature. These are the spur and reins whereby all mankind are set on work and guided.”
Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged, the influential philosophical novel, wrote”
“Essentially, and most basically, his standard of value will always be pleasure or pain, i.e. happiness or suffering, and these essentially, are: that which contributes to the preservation or the destruction of his life.”
– Journals of Ayn Rand, p. 555
But a new concept comes to mind that can change the way we think about our “reasons why” and “reasons why not”. It’s called cognitive reframing. Anthony Robbins expressed this concept well when he wrote in his best seller, Awaken the Giant Within:
“ The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”
– Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within, p. 54.
I used to teach cognitive reframing as a direct response tool for speakers when delivering group presentations to promote or sell their products, services or ideas. That was nearly twenty years ago in a previous life. But the concept of cognitive reframing is as valid today as it was back then. Wikipedia defines it this way:
“Cognitive Reframing, also known as NLP reframing is a psychological technique that consists of identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts. Reframing is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions to find more positive alternatives.”
Reframing reflects almost any conscious shift in a person’s mental perspective. It can involve imagination, visualization and mental imagery, volitional training and other mostly mental disciplines and practices. The point is to adjust your attitude about your reasons why and “reasons why not” so that you will become willing to move past your self-imposed barriers to defining and creating your new reality.
I’ll be discussing cognitive reframing and how to do it often during this series, but for now let’s just understand that it’s a real and valid technique for making something positive that wasn’t so positive before and understand that you can totally transform your way of thinking about those “reasons why” and “reasons why not” as they relate to your health and personal energy.
“You and I possess, at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives.”
– Werner Erhard, founder of est seminars.
“. . . If we’re willing to do it.”