On Gretchen Rubin’s blog “The Happiness Project” she quotes:
“Do not fail to do what ought to be done, and do not do what ought not to be done. Otherwise your burden of suffering will grow heavier.”
—The Dhammapada (Penguin Classics)
St. Paul in Romans said “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” And one of the books on my “to be read” bookcase is by a favorite contemporary philosopher, Jacob Needleman –Why Can’t We Be Good?
Well, why can’t we?
For many years I have used a tool I learned back in my personal/career coaching days – “10 Daily Habits”. A deceptively simple Excel spreadsheet with 1-10 habits which one wishes to do each day across the side, days of the month across the top. Simple. But (at least for these past 10 years) – not so easy!
I have some “gimmes” on my list: journalling, gratitude list – I do those almost every day, effortlessly. My little cat needs a pill every other day and I’m pretty attentive to her overall (it was her need and my spaciness that got me to do this spreadsheet in the first place). The two things on the list. that if i actually troubled myself to do them regularly would, I think, change my life are exercise and meditation. They’ve been on the list for probably a decade now.
Oh, it’s not that I don’t exercise or meditate. I do. Cardio AND weights on the exercise front (dutifully broken out that way in the spreadsheet).
It’s just that’s I’m SO sporadic about them.
So to further drive home the point to myself, I started ANOTHER spreadsheet – a compendium of exercise & meditation per month – so tracking how did I do (what % of days for each month did I exercise? meditate?). I thought writing it down would shame me into doing a better job. Not so much…
I figure if St. Paul struggled with this and both the Dhammapada and Jacob Needlemen felt it worthy of commentary, that I’m in good company. But it’s still discouraging.
I have been able to change some really ingrained behavior and do quite well with it. But maybe that’s part of it – if it’s a Big Deal I pay attention. If it’s ‘just something’ that would make my life better, I blow it off. That seems so short-sighted of me!
So i’m thinking it’s a fear of success thing. Self-sabotage. Or maybe just plain and simple laziness. It seems dumb. And makes me feel dumb.
But maybe this analysis is just as dumb – maybe I need to not take myself so darned seriously – lighten up!
But I think of my friend Mary – raising two sons, working a full-time gig. Running a home. Married. And—- writing a kickass novel in her “spare” time, while I play mah jongg on the computer or dither away time on FaceBook.
Why can’t we be good, indeed! What do you think?