Why is it so hard to follow through? Is it a function of our times? The flip side of endless possibility, an array of choices at our fingertips, yanking our reptilian brain in one thousand different directions, simultaneously? Have we lost the capacity to focus?
We make New Year’s Resolutions and 6 weeks later (if not the day after), we’re back to our old habits, reaching for the cookie, lamenting our inability to diet and cast ourselves aside, embarrassed.
We may reach for the cookie because we crave it, but we eat it because it’s forbidden fruit and because we’ve judged ourselves for wanting it in the first place. We’ve started off all wrong and it’s because of the undue pressure we put on ourselves, the desire to be perfect. If we start from this place, we’ll always fail. Because it’s from the outside in. But if we choose into radiant health, into the feeling of well-being from the inside, to feeling healthy and vibrant and alive, well, whether we eat the cookie or not doesn’t matter. Because we’re committing to a deeper intention. And a positive one at that.
For commitments to work, we need to notice where we’re coming from. What’s motivating us in the first place.
As a life long commitment-phobe, I’ve had to readjust my thinking. Commitment requires effort and energy, a willingness not to jump at the slightest hardship. The decision to go all in with something must come from the heart.
After all, the mind can play tricks. Take dating, for example. Endless sitcoms have been written mocking our absurd criteria. “But how can I be with someone who doesn’t like Six Feet Under?!,” we tell ourselves (I’ve actually said this in my lifetime). We focus on the smallest detail, focusing on what separates, rather than what joins. We overthink it. But there will always be something about a person or situation that irks. There will always be a roadblock. It’s part of the human experience, it’s the grist for the mill of our own evolution.
The key is in where we’re operating from, what’s driving us. Because if your heart is in it, you’ll be in it. The heart is sticky that way.
We make decisions based on our emotions. And flight is an emotion. It’s fear, often masqueraded as something else (likely a judgment). So is fight.
So how do we choose greens over the cookie (I’m not arguing against the cookie. It’s a metaphor). How do we stay? And, maybe more importantly, how do we know what or who is worth staying for?
By committing to ourselves first, we commit to opening wider, stretching. We commit to seeing everything as an opportunity for our own spiritual advancement. We commit to what forces us to evolve, with the full understanding that it won’t always be easy. That sometimes, red tape is required.
In a delightful recent episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Seinfeld and Obama were discussing the toxicity of success, how it can get to one’s head. Obama asked what keeps Seinfeld going, even after all of his success. He leaned in, and said it was always about the work, the creative challenge of it, the love of it.
Career. Relationships. It’s all the same thing. If we see it as a challenge, something to be motivated by and for, we’ll remain engaged. It’s the motivation that matters, why we got into it in the first place. Some people are motivated by money, others prestige. But the luckiest (and I say this without judgment), are those who are motivated by sheer curiosity and by the experience itself. Because everything else will fade. But interest and engagement, these feelings in and of themselves, are eternal.
If we live commitment, to and from this place, our world opens up, and seems to blossom again and again, giving us more of ourselves. It becomes liberating, rather than restrictive.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.