I wasn’t always this awesome. I used to be an average guy, a joe-schmoe, a mr. cellophane. Now I’m great. But what is the difference between greatness and mediocrity? What separates the chaff from the wheat? Enthusiasm? Really? Is that what I meant?
I really was mediocre back in the day. I didn’t change my life to be great, but I was just a bit tired of mediocrity. I do try to be great, but it ain’t easy, this being great. For the record, being mediocre is easy.
The world doesn’t necessarily think I’m great. The world thinks I’m pretty mediocre. I’m okay with that. It’s hard to change what the world thinks of you. But I feel great.
You might think I owe it all to Tom Matt, Founder of Boomers Rock, Talk Show host, author, and all around good egg. I give myself quite a bit of credit. I make myself feel great.
Here are the steps I took to starting feeling great:
Step 1: Realize That I’m Worth It
At the height of my mediocrity, I believed I was destined to be average, with an average amount of success, an average amount of money, and an average amount of happiness in my life. I didn’t think I deserved to be all that happy.
My epiphany was realizing that I was finally worthy of happiness, and that I was responsible for making it happen. No one was going to make me happy.
What Was So Bad About Being Me?
Being mediocre, I was not particularly fit, and on some level of my psyche I thought that if I was fit, other things would be better. I was mostly wrong about that, but it brought me to a better place, so it’s worth mentioning here.
Along the way, I learned what would make me happy, so I’m very grateful I started down that path.
Once I decided I was worth it, and that I wanted to improve my fitness, the next question was how to make it happen.
Step 2: Realizing That It Wouldn’t Happen Overnight
The decision is one thing. The work to make improvements is quite a bit another thing. I gave myself a present:
It took 40 years to get out of shape; I can give myself a couple of years to improve things.
I did not look for any shortcuts for quick results. I looked for problems in the process of how I did things and tried to correct those areas. For instance:
I was the king snacker. I had these triggers going back to when I was a latch-key kid, when I got home from school, I’d eat a cool-whip sandwich and a bowl of Lucky Charms. As an adult, any time I arrived home, day or night, I was immediately hungry, and scrounged up food.
I worked to change that trigger. I still eat when I get home, but now I have carrots or cauliflower or cabbage. (I have a thing for c-words.)
I started preparing my meals, and choosing whole foods first, especially vegetables. What I have discovered along the way is my sensitivity to carbohydrates, especially starch and sugar, and so those items I push to the back of my list. It’s not that they are evil, but they don’t help me stay healthy.
I was very spotty on exercise, and also very much able to talk myself out of a workout if, for instance, my foot had fallen asleep, or if it was raining, or if it wasn’t raining. It basically didn’t take very much to convince myself to wait until the next day to exercise, and then the next day never came.
By the way, formal exercise is not really necessary if you happen to have a demanding lifestyle, or can walk enough to be human, but here in America we drive a lot, we sit at desks, or have machines do the truly heavy lifting.
If didn’t see Les Miserables, starring The Wolverine, it opens on a group of prisoners dragging a large, wooden battleship into a dock from the sea. There are hundreds of men pulling on ropes. My first reaction was, “Wow, that sucks.” But my next reaction was, “Hey, there’s a total body workout that really must burn some calories.”
We don’t do that stuff anymore. I arranged my desk at work so that everything I need, for hours at a stretch, is at my fingertips. Phone on my right, input tray next to that, then the monitor and keyboard right in front of me, and my notebook on the left. I don’t even have to go looking for the stapler because it’s tucked conveniently underneath the monitor, but I don’t even print paper anymore because everything is digital (poor stapler!). I queue up what few print jobs I do have so that I get them after I go to the men’s room. If I installed a urinal in my cubicle, I wouldn’t even have to get up to do that.
I would exercise every day. I had been an “every other day” guy for workouts. I decided I would do a little bit every single day, no excuses. I would just do something. I figured that if smoking a couple of cigarettes a day would slowly kill you, maybe doing a couple of push ups or running a couple of miles would make me better. I didn’t demand of myself a total body, cross-fit killer workout like dragging a ship in from sea with Jean Val-Jean; I just wanted to get about 30 minutes in of something.
Step 3: Figure Out What Matters
Eating right and getting some exercise is all well and good, especially if you saw that vitamin commercial back in the 70s (“I eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Oh, and I take One-A-Day vitamins.”). But is that all there is to life?
If it is, you may not be able to sustain the habits that keep you healthy. We’re meant to be happy — I realize that sounds stupidly obvious, but “happy” is the name we’ve given to the state we are wired to seek. But it’s not the endless pursuit of fun or pleasurable distractions. Those are important, but they aren’t the point.
To make a lasting change in your healthy, wellness, and overall quality of life, you have to attach meaning to your life, and figure out what really makes you happy. The answer to that is elsewhere in this website/book/seminar series. Seriously, we have discovered the meaning life. Someone else wrote it down much better than we have, but it’s out there, and we’ll help you find it, too.
Meanwhile, you need to understand that, in my case, by clearly articulating to myself what mattered, my life-improving habits were not a burden or a chore, but a joyful experience that made me glad. I was happy that I was caring for myself, because it gives me more energy to pursue fun, and care for my family, and create things I want to share with the world.
For me, my true passion is storytelling, and that’s what I work on, everyday, and hope soon to get so good at that people will want to read or hear those stories. But I also have fun playing table tennis, and playing the ukulele, and joking around with my friends and family. I even appreciate going to work more than I ever have because it is part of my bigger picture that allows me to care for my family and work on my passions.
It’s the Little Things That Make a Big Difference
Smoked every day, or ate a can of cake frosting every day, over time, you would make a big, and likely negative change in your life. The tar would reek havoc on your lungs, or the sugar would wear out your pancreas.
But if you can figure out what matters in your life, and use that knowledge to motivate yourself to take some small steps toward improving your health every day, over time, you would make a big, positive change in your life.