Miss Sherrie, the woman who leads the Weight Watchers group, said she’d given up sugar for Lent. She’s a Lent observing Christian apparently and giving something up for a month is what she does the month before Easter. And I thought about how this woman who also has given up daily food enjoyment of all other sorts to lose a lot of weight, would give up her only other vice. And it got me to thinking about self-discipline and achievement.
The Restriction (and devotion) of choices and activities to learn and enjoy other things in life is practiced by many religions. It is also one concept that makes the military successful in making soldiers. If you take away free will in certain activities, it frees your mind up to consider and make choices on other matters. If I don’t have to spend time thinking about breakfast, choosing what to wear, or if I know I’m definitely going to the gym today, I can focus on the next task and perhaps enjoy some creativity today. My brain is not bogged down by all the choices.
Choice is great until making all those choices becomes a burden. What if removing these choices freed you up again? I see this practice of self-restraint as having multiple layers of benefits. First, that you will get on to the projects and tasks that you want to get to because you’ve allowed the freedom to not be bogged down with the mundane. If you always have oatmeal for breakfast, you could make a huge batch and then save time for the next couple days to do something else instead of cooking for those 20 minutes.
And if you concede and follow your own authority at creating non-negotiable tasks, then you could insert a number of tasks there that would benefit you in the upcoming future. If taking an online typing course had been a non-negotiable item for me, I’d already know how. You say it, it’s a done deal. That’s some fabulous power of choice to use for the benefit of your life and humanity in general.
And lastly, this same concept is already one that is practiced when disciplining children. Children feel safer when they know you are making the decisions and not them. When they truly understand that they have no choice as to whether they need to go to bed, they can spend that precious brain power creating. Yes, they question authority because that’s their job but our job is to let them know they are safe in a bubble where their choices are limited and then they can feel free. Too many choices are just plain overwhelming for anyone.
If putting some restraints on yourself can free you up in other ways infinitesimally, why wouldn’t you? If I plan my meals, then I don’t have to think about it anymore. If I schedule out writing and crafting in my calendar, I am much more likely to go and do those things. The day they aren’t scheduled, I end up balancing the checkbook! Yes it needs to be done but I’m such a good “do bee” I’d always throw my creativity under the bus unless it’s scheduled and thus “official”.
We Americans love our many choices but I think we’ve forgotten to value them. If we could tone down our gluttony, perhaps chose to only eat vegetables and fruit that are in season locally, we’d save us some ozone by not wasting all the gas to truck the produce up from South America. Choices aren’t always a good thing. Especially if we squander them.
Lessons come in fits and spurts. This one was brought to you by my attendance to Weight Watchers and Creativity Bootcamp. You and your time and creativity and health are important. So think about how you can help yourself to reign in your wasted time and bring on some excitement and hope into your life with daily devotional activities. Because restrictions can be oddly freeing.
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I love Lent, and perhaps for this very reason. I have been meal planning and weekly planning for some time, but never really thought about it in this way. Time to apply the same principles to my creativity since that time seems to slip by. Thanks for the perspective tweak!
Oh Karen good for you with the meals plans. and yes, I swear if you schedule your creativity and even give yourself specific task breakdowns, you’ll have no room to hem and haw and back out. Good Luck!!!
Brilliant post — it reminds me of a time when my friend, who was a bit more liberal with her children than I was, intended to let the boy go out in a small boat with my child (local body of water). I said, “You’ll have to wear a lifejacket.” She protested a bit, but what I SAW clearly in her eyes was complete and utter relief at my having made this decision. She was afraid and didn’t want to admit it in front of her friend. I learned something significant about mothering that day.
That sometimes we are spoiled as adults with our plethora of choices but were they for our children, we’d know exactly which ones to make or pull. You’re right btw Tamara, kids would never wear safety gear of any sort if they’ weren’t made to. Throw in the need to liked, by a friend or your kid, and the choice of avoidance can be costly. Thank you for saying you liked it. My husband wanted me differentiate between military and Catholicism’s uses of restriction. I told him it could be a way better post if I took the time to polish it up. But blogging is fast and dirty sometimes.
I also think this is a fabulous essay! Ive been observing a lot about my anxiety on days of “free choice” – I definitely flounder on those days. I feel safer on my work days – where a tight schedule keeps all my tasks and breaks in flow. And I also like to eat the same thing every day (most days) to remove overthinking about food. Thank you for this topic!
I love your tenacity to make the comment stick. I visited your blog recently. Really enjoyed what I read. I’d love to see anything I wrote spark you to write a post.
My previous attempt at a comment here may have disappeared in anonymity, because I haven’t been planning my online time very well. I love this post, Shalagh! I’ve been observing how anxious I am on days off from work – as though the schedule and time clock are safe, and I get so much done in the day. But not when I have free reign on the day. I also like to eat the same thing most days – otherwise I think way too much about it. Thanks for these reflections! Dawn xx
I love when you come to visit Dawn because you are so thoughtful and enthusiastic. I’ve found myself thinking more proactively as my awareness of it is growing. I’ll think about my lunch at breakfast. Or what I need to do tomorrow and in what order it will happen. Then I may write it down. But the absolute best is when I make the calendar be the boss and then I just obey myself. Thank you!