Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Overcoming Inertia

Take a gander at Newton's first law (Law of Inertia):
A body at rest will remain at rest. A body in motion will continue in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Holy apple-boy! Was Isaac Newton a physicist or a philosopher?

See, it's like this...I'm a body at rest. And I tend to remain at rest. Sometimes it seems my entire life has been ruled by the Law of Inertia. Resistance to change.

Maybe you can empathize. If you're like me, you've probably missed some opportunities because of inertia.

On the other hand, you may have also missed some catastrophes because of inertia.

but so do death rays
A body at rest will remain at rest...
Funny thing though -- Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the two. Was that an opportunity or a potential catastrophe we just let pass us by? Should I cry about that near-miss or should I cheer?

Those of us who are inertially challenged have a choice. We can spend our lives consumed by regret for missed opportunities or filled with thanks for missed catastrophes.

Historically, I've probably leaned more to the regret side of the fence. In rereading the previous paragraph, however, I just noticed something for the very first time. Something about the language. Do you see it? Regret can "consume" us. It can eat us alive, depleting our energy so we can't even take action. Regret is an unbalanced force that halts our motion even if we do manage to take small steps. In contrast, thanks can "fill" us. It can expand us, nourishing us so that we can move forward and stabilizing us so that we can withstand the unbalanced external forces that would halt our movement.

Regret consumes, but thanks fills.

Why didn't I see that before?

It's funny how life makes connections. I recently found a note scribbled in a tiny notebook, something I jotted down during a church sermon years ago. I probably jotted the note just trying to keep myself awake and engaged for the duration of the sermon, but it looks like past-me was trying to send future-me a message.

Scribbled in that small notebook, a little memo pad I received for free from an area funeral home (not kidding), is this: Fear limits. Faith compels.

With a little  "Newtonian word association" we can express the relationship as follows:

Regret = Fear = Limitation

Thanks = Faith = Compelled to move

But what if you just don't feel like it?

It's so much easier for us inertially challenged folk to say we have choices than it is to actively make the choices that rise above inertia. Trust me when I say that. I know what I'm talking about.

Fly. me. to. the. action. zone!
No, neeeeed these jeans!
I think people like me look into the face of an intentional life and we're blown back by the anticipation of exhaustion. Even the anticipation of exhaustion can be exhausting.

Although it's much easier (and much more comfortable) to default to "I don't feel like it" or "I'm not in the mood, " Leo Babauta says mood is a poor indicator of whether you should do something. In my case, that's certainly true.

Leo offers some alternatives to simply following your mood (remember...your mood is a beeyatch) and saying "I don't feel like it." It's elegant advice, but I like to think of it as a list of ways to tell yourself to just put on your Chuck Norris Action Jeans and move.

Don't give up hope

I tell myself that all the time. And, once again, I'm taking the opportunity to remind myself of the hope that I can cement healthy habits and move beyond the inertia in my life. After all, the worst that happens is usually better than the worst I imagine.

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