I am sure all of you have used rubber bands – they are very elastic. If they were stiff, then there is no point in using them. Each rubber band has its breaking point, but for the most part, they are flexible when it comes to holding things together – be it a small bundle of pens or a big wad of paper. Rubber bands have a spectrum or a range in which they operate as opposed to a binary decision point.
We all make resolutions or decide to make some new habits, right? For example, waking up at 5:30 am every day. For most of us, it is a binary item – we are successful if we wake up at 5:30 am and unsuccessful if we do not. Either we wake up at 5:30 am, or we do not. Does that make sense? Does that take into account that the rest of our life is not so binary? What about the nights when you have extra work, and you are not able to go to bed at your regular bedtime. Or what about when your baby refuses to go to bed on time? Or you have your best friend visiting you? Or how about you need a break? Our life is unpredictable. The waking up at 5:30 am needs to adjust for those needs. When we decide the success criteria for such habits, we need to have a range like if I wake four days out of 7 at 5:30 am it is a success – for example.
Operating within a range or spectrum – being elastic has its benefits. One, it is practical. The Chinese have a saying that doing something 80% is perfection. Second, it helps us be kind to ourselves. Imagine beating yourself up because you did not get up at 5:30 am because you wanted to sleep in one day. Third, it accommodates for us being humans. We all have days when we are lazy or don’t want to get up at 5:30 am, and elasticity gives us a way to honour that need.
Not, all items we do can have a range. Like, if you are catching a flight at 5:00 am then the plane is leaving at 5:00 am – there is no range around that. But most situations, you can build an array. I like to get up in the morning and do a bit of yoga – and my plan used to be – get up do yoga every day. If I missed a day, I would beat myself about it, which would of course not motivate me to do it anymore. So, now I have different built-in levels. For example, if I am up and early – I do all the exercises. If I got up late or have to go to work soon, then I do one cycle of each exercise. And if I have absolutely no time, then I do one sun salutation. This way – I still do my yoga, life-permitting and also be kind to myself.
It is 2020, a new day, a new year, a new decade. Technically speaking, this is just another day with twenty-four hours in it. Non-technically speaking it is a big deal. People stay up till midnight to usher in this new dawn. Resolutions are made, relationships are built or broken.
I fail to understand why we have to treat this one day out of the three hundred and sixty-five days in a year as unique. Being the logical person I am, I fail to understand the purpose behind welcoming the new year in a bleary-eyed state and wake up tired on the first day of the year. I am one of those people who go to sleep on time and wake up bushy-tailed rearing to go. I do make an exception for special occasions – like fireworks in Sydney – once in a lifetime events.
Going back to resolutions, why would you chose this one day to resolve. It makes more sense to do it when you are ready and not make the New Year Day is THE day to make a resolution. I have found that if I make one day the pivotal point and if I drop off the wagon then it is harder for me get back on as it takes another 365 days for me to re-invigorate my habit.
I remember talking to somebody who was addicted to alcohol and is now over it. But that person said that even now he/she counts every day she has been without alcohol. And when you are starting – relapse is considered a part of recovery. What a benevolent way to become a better version of yourself!
My vision in life is to be a better version of myself, and I do that with all the might and vain which comes with having an abundant supply of will power. With will power comes a strong force which if not balanced, will leave me swinging from one extreme to the other. In some ways, its the difference between dealing with life like a rock-solid mountain vs flowing stream. That is a lesson that I am still in the process of learning. So, I tend to be more hard on myself when I miss out on my habits. Or, I go the complete other way and don’t even try to get back into my practice.
Internalizing the fact, ‘Relapse is a part of the recovery’ means being gentler to myself (one of my resolutions this year to be kind to myself) and being ok to start as many times as it takes to get back on the habit I am trying to build. I have come to know myself enough that I am not going to give up on any practice but knowing that it is ok to fail is a blessing that I need allow.
It does not matter if you make resolutions today as long as you know that this is not the only day – there are three hundred and sixty-four days which can have an even more significant and meaningful impact on your lives.
I have talked about this topic in a few of my previous blogs. But every time I am in London, I am reminded of my global nomadic tribe despite living in Columbus. I cannot deny the almost visceral feeling that I am home while in London. Every fibre of my being relaxes knowing it has arrived – what is it about London that makes me feel at home.
Well, partly, it has nothing to do with London. It is the fact that I have moved around so much that I feel at home only when I don’t belong anywhere. And where else in the world would that be possible except in London.
When you land in London – you are welcomed in a dozen languages at the airport itself. You only have to step outside to hear all the multitude of languages that are being spoken around you. If you were blindfolded and dropped in London, you wouldn’t be able to identify you were in London just by listing to the languages around you. Different accents, Different looks, Different nationalities – THAT IS HOME for me.
I have walked on the streets of London for long enough to make them my home. The pure nostalgia of walking down the old paths and hanging out at the old haunts – makes me feel like I could go back to my old flat in Cleveland street and be back in my good old London days.
Another aspect of London is the proximity to Europe. This time in less than seven days I had visited Paris (for a day) and Spain (for the weekend). The pure joy of listening to french in the day and come back home to the Italian-English accent of the Uber driver in London feels home to me. Because honestly, that’s how I grew up in London, trips every weekend. Within 3 hours you can immerse yourself in the Spanish culture, eating dinner for three hours and have a nice long siesta and then be back in London for work.
And it is always nice to know that I haven’t lost touch with the ‘Things Londoners Do’ – get irritated at people who stand at the left side of the escalators. I had just gotten off the airport, and I was back in the element – mentally willing the tourists in front of me to shift to the right side so that I could zip down the escalators. The way a true Londoner sidesteps around the tourists, politely smiling at their awes. I used to work at British Telecom, conveniently located in st. Pauls – joke around the office was that we were probably in a large number of photos around the world than in our family albums.
London welcomes diversity with open arms and love. That is what this world needs right now – not divisiveness of Brexit or not – but pure love which you cannot take out of London. I am grateful for the fact that you can take a Londoner out of London but not London out of them.