People with a talent for living give their physical and mental health a high priority. They exercise, meditate, go to yoga, pilates or dance class, play sports. They take time to recharge their body and nourish their soul.
When I visualise my ideal life, I am one of those people. I would go for a jog on a Monday, maybe join friends at Zumba class on Wednesday and do training in the park on Fridays. I would make time for ten minutes yoga 3 times a week, and even fit in some mindful meditation. And of course my diet would include double the fruit and veg and a quarter of the chocolate. Not to mention a cut in wine intake. I would stimulate my mind with much time spent on hobbies, meeting friends and reading.
My reality is usually quite different. While I recently had some success introducing exercise and healthier eating into my life, going on holiday has set that back a bit. Generally when it comes down to each decision I take throughout the day, I often overrule my ideal self. Instead, I seem to value spending time working, checking emails, or getting the house clean, over things that will really make me feel happier. I know that they will make me happier and healthier, yet I don’t do them. And I know from speaking to friends and clients that I’m not the only one who does this. Why is this?
Here are a few possible reasons:
- We don’t value ourselves – and our physical and mental health – enough.
- We don’t focus enough – ie we get distracted, we go for instant gratification over hard work, or long-term goals.
- We find it difficult to change habits, especially ingrained thinking patterns.
- We are scared – we don’t want to fail, make mistakes or make a fool of our selves.
- We are too busy trying to prove we are someone else rather than allowing ourselves to be who we are.
- We don’t realise (or we forget) that many of the goals we aim for will not solve all our problems and make us instantly happy.
- We worry about what other people will think of our lifestyle.
I am sure there are many other reasons, like laziness, unexpected events, being human, even being spontaneous, that distract us from our idealised life. Maybe a big one is expecting that an ideal life is possible anyway. I know personally, and I hate to admit this, that one of the biggest reasons that I don’t give enough time to my mental and physical wellbeing is that I’m constantly trying to ‘prove’ myself in other ways to everyone – including myself. So this means I am chasing achievements rather than valuing myself enough as I am. Sounds crazy written down in black and white, but there it is.