’Cause I try and I try and I try…” – me and Mick Jagger.
Satisfaction is a choice. We rarely feel satisfied because we have not set our own standard for what is enough! Last week I talked about beginning my regular exercise program again. I said I’d only do 20 minutes 3 times per week, for now. My husband wants to know why I won’t do more if I’m in the mood. Well that’s what I want to tell you about, when enough is enough.
According to Jen Loudon we can set “conditions of enoughness:”
1) Name what is enough simply, in measurable facts, usually with a time frame.
2) Make sure you’re only depending on yourself on an average day.
3) When the above conditions are met, relax into “satisfied,” even if you don’t feel it just yet.
This takes some practice. And I can tell you it is such a relief to feel like I’ve done enough toward whatever I’ve chosen to accomplish today. And when I don’t get it all done, I am gentle with myself. If I have not tried to be superwoman at the outset, and have not fooled myself into thinking it will be a perfect day with nothing going wrong, I know I have done what I could do given the circumstances.
Last week I talked about beginning my regular exercise practice again. One of my readers asked me to suggest some motivating things to get him up and going. I’ll say again, you’ve got to want it!
Ask yourself this: On a scale of 1-10 how much do you want the results of taking this action? List the pros & cons; what you are saying yes to, and what you are choosing to say no to.
How much do you want to stay with the results you are experiencing of not taking this action or making this change? If you are more committed to what you’ve got than what you imagine the change will bring, then your job is to accept that. Learn to feel satisfied with where you are.
You do not have to be good.?
You do not have to walk on your knees?
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.?
You only have to let the soft animal of your body?
love what it loves.
from the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
When I started thinking about exercising again I thought about it for awhile, asking myself what I really wanted to get out of it and what my body really wanted to do and feel. I planned what time of day might be best, which days, and set up my “conditions of enoughness:”
1) 20 minutes of Pilates 3 times per week is clear. (Not exercise in general, it’s too easy for me to think of walking around the supermarket as exercise!) I knew I could for sure do 20 minutes, but I may or may not feel like doing more. If I didn’t feel like I had time or energy for the full 45 minute routine I may not do it at all. So 20 minutes is a good start. AND I want to feel satisfied after I do it. “Hey I did my 20 minutes, I feel good about that.”
2) I do not need anyone else to help me with this. I don’t need to go anywhere, I just need to get up off my butt, walk in the next room and do it. Simple. Not too many days that I can’t do 20 minutes of something that will take me somewhere I want to go. And I enjoy it once I get going. Now I may feel like doing more, but I know that this commitment gives me room to have life happen, because days without interruption and unexpected happenings are rare. I want to make keeping promises to myself easy.
3) I really do feel satisfied that I did what I said I was going to do. I don’t feel like I should have done more, because I set up realistic expectations in the first place. Also if I do more then I may not get some other things done, or feel tired, or whatever. I am doing what I said I would do. This is good for me.
So what is enough for you? How often do you let yourself be satisfied? It really is not about “trying” as Mick says (just ask Yoda!), but about knowing what you want, setting yourself up to meet simple realistic ways to get there, and enjoying the ride. And remember, no comparisons! You are who you are, and hopefully letting the soft animal of your body love what it loves will help you know you are enough. It does take some practice to let yourself feel good about your simple accomplishments, but it is certainly motivating for the next time!
Hint: If you are not sure what you want, spend more quiet time alone. That’s the best starting place I know of. Perhaps that is the first change to make. Set up a time for doing this. Perhaps you will meditate, maybe journal, maybe do Chi Gong, commune with Nature, do nothing, anything that gets you out of your normal mindset and expanded in your heart. Just being present, your heart will guide you.
“The process of growth, is it seems, the art of falling down. Growth is measured by the gentleness and awareness with which we once again pick ourselves up, the lightness with which we dust ourselves off, the openness with which we continue and take the next unknown step, beyond, our edge, beyond our holding, into the remarkable mystery of being.” Steven Levine