“It does not matter what you bear, but how you bear it.”
Greetings from LA and Oahu!
This week we’re discussing the problems with the victim mindset, how small wins lead to big victories, and why sitting too much is super not good for the human body.
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The Victim Mindset
I recently posted the following on my Facebook…
My intent was to encourage people to travel more — because it’s something I love to do and I want other people to enjoy it as well.
But someone, a friend of mine, actually, responded with the following comment…
For many people, traveling is a lot more complicated than “making it happen” — and this is due to a growing wage gap in America as well as overpriced education and medical systems.
However, it’s telling that this was this person’s gut response.
He’s right. But he’s also playing the victim.
From a macro level, it’s good to recognize the things that are wrong in the world and to work to correct them. We should all work to create a fair, kind, and compassionate society by electing the right individuals, voting, and even protesting.
From a personal level, it’s not healthy or wise to focus on the things we don’t have control over. That energy is far better spent on personal solutions rather than blaming and finger pointing.
And how a person spends their mental energy — as an optimist personally or as a pessimist holistically — is often indicative of how happy and successful they are.
As Daniel Kahneman writes,
“If you were allowed one wish for your child, seriously consider wishing him or her optimism…
Optimistic individuals play a disproportionate role in shaping our lives. Their decisions make a difference; they are the inventors, the entrepreneurs, the political and military leaders…
The people who have the greatest influence on the lives of others are likely to be optimistic and overconfident, and to take more risks than they realize.”
He concludes: “When action is needed, optimism, even of the mildly delusional variety, may be a good thing.”
If you want to do something exciting — no matter what it is — there will always be a million reasons that you shouldn’t do it… or that you “can’t.”
But it’s all BS.
It might take some time.
It might take some energy.
It might take some grit.
But you can do whatever you set your mind to — or at least, you can do a hell of a lot more than you probably give yourself credit for.
Which is why this was my response…
What is your gut reaction?
Do you come up with excuses for why you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” do something? Or do you slowly and steadily work toward your goals, ignoring the haters (inside and outside of your head) all along the way?
It’s obvious which path will take you further.
It’s also obvious which pather is easier.
Choose the hard path. Stop making excuses. And start working for the things you want (even if the odds are against you).
Your day is probably jam-packed with to-dos.
Maybe you’ve got such a long list that you don’t even know where to start or how you’re going to accomplish it all.
Charles Duhigg might recommend you start with some “small wins”.
“Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves.”
Doing the dishes, for instance, or taking the trash out, or even going for a quick walk.
In and of themselves, these things are relatively insignificant. But they have a snowballing effect.
“Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage,” one Cornell professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.” Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.”
I (Mike) now use these small wins whenever I’m feeling lethargic. Most often, I’ll do one of the three things I mentioned above. It only takes about 15 minutes and I always have a little more energy afterward.
That’s because I’ve accomplished something, I’ve moved a little bit, and it’s easy to keep that momentum once it’s started.
This works because action and results lead to a release of dopamine (which feels good). This, in turn, leads to more action and more results.
Small wins can plug you into this winning cycle.
The cycle many of us plug into unknowingly, though — we call it the “Un-Success Cycle” — does just the opposite.
We don’t take action (even though we know we should) and so we don’t get results. Which means we don’t feel good about ourselves. This makes us take less action and get less results.
Give it a try, the next time you’re feeling down, get up and just do one simple thing. Here are some ideas for things you could do to feel better and build some momentum.
- Go for a quick walk
- Do the dishes
- Do a load of laundry
- Set a timer for 15 minutes of work
- Do 10 pushups
- Choose the easiest thing on your to-do list
This video just made me get up from my desk and go for a walk.
It’s a TED-Ed video that describes why the human body isn’t meant to sit down for long periods of time and how doing so harms our health.
For example, did you know that our circulatory system depends on the contracting of our muscular system? Or how about that we get less oxygen to our brain when we slouch while sitting? Not to mention that too much sitting is related to long-term health problems such as cancer and heart disease.
The video is only 4 minutes and 51 seconds. And it’s well worth the watch.
If nothing else, it’ll convince you to stand a little bit more and to go for more walks.
Here is some other random stuff we found interesting this last week!
- The socialist case for Trad Architecture by AARON BASTANI
- In Remote Alaska, Meal Planning Is Everything by Bree Kessler
- Why we don’t remember pandemics by Mark Honigsbaum
This Week’s Image
“A resident tries to put out a fire with a tree branch as he watches the forest surrounding his home burn in Albergaria a Velha, Portugal, on July 13, 2022. Wildfires have swept across the central part of the country amid temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).” via The Atlantic
This Week’s Riddle
Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!
Turn me on my side and I am everything. Cut me in half and I am nothing.
What am I?
This Week’s Journaling Prompt
Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt.
All of us, in one way or another, buy into the pessimistic victim mindset — in both little or big ways. What is one area of your life where you’ve been making far too many excuses?
This Week’s Challenge
Stack some small wins. Every day, if you find yourself feeling unmotivated, get yourself a small win. It’ll make you feel better, more motivated, and maybe even more optimistic.
Until next week,
Mike & Alec
Riddle Answer: The number 8.