Don´t we all dream of living our most authentic self in a clean body with a clean mind in a happy surrounding? This is THE TIME of the year to start new habits, renew our routines and push ourselves to the limit. But what if we get so caught up in improving ourselves and our routines so much that the optimization trap snaps shut?
All in an attempt to be more creative, getting things done AND take care of your body and mind. Taking time for yourself should be THE FIRST PRIORITY in your daily routine as this is where your energy and creativity comes from. Only, if we rest in ourselves or can refer to a calm mind in times of high workload or unexpected events (like the whole of 2020), we are able to maneuver through the waves of life with serenity and ease.
I also learned that we have to take action to improve our life and overcome our fears. It hasn´t been easier than now to learn new skills or try out new things. The world wide web is full of information often at no or low cost (YouTube, free courses, online articles, etc.).
So where is the “optimization trap”?
What´s wrong with starting our day with some workout, add some extra time for Yoga or spending the lunch time in lotus seat? Instead of watching TV in the evening, we watch a tutorial about coding, knitting or whatever it is we are interested in. Why should that be wrong?
The answer is: nothing. This can be very beneficial, but only, if you are fully behind it. Sitting down to meditate just because you know you should, but every inch of your body is tight as you wait to get this done, this won´t bring you any release. Instead, it creates more stress in the body and mind. The same, if you are skipping your lunch break for a work-out or mindfulness exercise and become angry, because you are hungry and annoyed to eat lunch at your desk alone and not together with your colleagues.
The media fools us into believing that there is only one way of living our lives. We should start the day with a workout, taking time to pause within the day, eating healthy and enhance our learning whenever we can. This, it makes us believe, is THE WAY to a fulfilled and happy life.
Sleep well. Eat healthy. Get active.
And it works. It works very well. I don´t want to diminish the qualities of these routines: healthy eating, exercising regularly and installing pauses throughout the day help us push our creativity and ride the waves of life with calmness and ease.
But only, if we FEEL like doing exercise and meditation. If we are only doing it, because we know we should, it can create trouble or additional stress for body and mind. We have to bring body and mind in unison. And we have to ENJOY whatever action we take to do so.
It is a question of authenticity.
Get clear on your motivation. Are you living a healthy and active life because you are convinced that this improves your overall lifestyle or are you just adding more bullet points to your daily tasks because you think you should do it?
Sometimes it´s hard to distinguish. Certain routines need an x-amount of practice to become a routine firsthand, so skipping it too early because “we don´t feel like meditating today” can be the wrong sign.
It is important to get clear on your motives: do I want this because I think it will improve the quality of my life?
If the answer is yes, you should go for it and fight resistance if necessary.
That doesn´t mean, that one day you may skip it, because you feel you are getting a cold, and sleep is more valuable right now than meditating. This is the moment, where you should listen to your intuition, mute the alarm and sleep in a bit longer. Maybe you feel more renewed after an hour more sleep. The more often you listen to our intuition, the clearer the information it will give you.
Stop doing things only because you think you should and avoid that the optimization trap snaps shut. Live your authentic self, by living your life by your own rules and creating your own habits. The beginning of a new year, is the best time to do so.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we´re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”