Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Sabbatical - Day 63

I'm reading David Brooks' book, The Social Animal.  There's a lot there worth talking about, but one of the topics he explores concerns the journey to a healthier lifestyle.  He makes the point that when looking at the path to a particular lifestyle choice (ie, healthier eating or being more active) that we have historically broken the process into three phases.  He observes that phase three is resisting or engaging a desire, phase two is deciding that one desires the object or action, and phase one is perceiving the object or action.  In the nineteenth century society focused on phase three...better living is achieved through willpower.  In the twentieth century society focused on phase two...better living is achieved through knowledge and reasoning.  Neither approach is effective.

Brooks' posits that behavior is driven by perception.  We are mostly bound by the circumstances and patterns that surround and precede the current moment.  There is much more in his book, and I'm sure I'll come back to some of his other musings, and even for this one point for a more robust exploration you should read his book.  But for the moment this idea has me thinking about my own over thirty year journey through poor diet and exercise.  There is a scene or monologue that runs through my head pretty constantly exorting me to different choices for food and exercise.  It doesn't seem to matter much what I want to do -- reason and willpower have had little effect and now, at fifty, I find myself overweight and battling hyper-tension, cholesterol and glucose.  Everything is out of balance.

So, what I am thinking about, is how do I change the context within which I make choices or exhibit will power?  How do I change the script that runs and the perceptions that I have.  I don't have the answer to this question.  It's a question.  But it seems likely that one OUTCOME of the Sabbatical is to land somewhere that is more active and where food choices are directed or constrained in some constructive way.  Avoid the desk.  Keep moving.  Don't eat alone.

I started voice lessons on Monday.  I think I'm going to do a diet program, too.  I need to record my audition pieces in about sixty days and when I get to that moment I need to be about fourty pounds lighter.

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