Sunday, December 16, 2012

Searching for something to love in something you loathe...

Over at, Eric Karjaluoto asks a very sensible question about all those failed attempts at self-improvement:

What if the missing part of the puzzle is not a lack of willpower, but instead a lack of love?
The runner discovers tranquility on the road, forgetting the pain. The writer gives in to the joy of playing with words, moving past the aggravation. The entrepreneur finds purpose in making something, and stops noticing the long days.

It has long been my impression that willpower is severely overrated. I prefer the word pleasure, because  of all the baggage the word love carries with it. But in principle, I agree with the premises of the article.

I don't quite agree with his conclusion, because I think that putting in the hours will often help you discover the pleasurable aspect of an activity that you used to loathe, and that our current focus on instant gratification leads nowhere. And also, there are chores that we simply have to put behind us whether we like them or not, like bringing out the trash or preparing for that exam. But I do agree that sheer willpower and little self-help tricks are not the solution.

The big question still is: How do you find something to love in what you loathe, and pleasure in pain?

It worked for me with my change of diet, it worked with physical exercise to some degree, and it doesn't work at all in some other areas.

So far, it's still poking around in the dark until I hit something useful. So the OTHER big question is, can the search for something positive be systematized, even in the face of strong negative emotions attached to the activity in question?

I don't think that "letting go of the goal" is the ultimate answer, though I suspect it to be one huge part of the solution. The same goes for affirmations, visualisations, meditation or more positive and motivating language patterns (see what I did there? *g*).

I do think that all of these, and certainly quite a few more, can be valuable parts of a practice of permanent personal development. Over time, you acquire your very own, very personal set of best practices that help you the most. In between, there are necessarily shots in the dark, total misses, complete disasters. And some big hits. The trick being, of course, to keep track of the real hits and stick with them no matter what, while getting rid of what did not work as soon as possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment