Day 78: Finding the right Starting Point

I like the interplay between things.

Where most people see cause and effect, I see multiple causes and a fair amount of randomness.

Instead of:

Arrow

I see:

Mess

Admittedly, this way of thinking creates more mess but it also creates more possibilities.

When I became depressed a couple of years ago and was reaching the point where medication was looking like the only option, it’s this thinking that led me to take advice I might otherwise have ignored.

I wanted to feel better but I had no energy, couldn’t think clearly and didn’t care about anything. Any action seemed pointless and futile. It felt like the most important thing to do was to change my mindset but, honestly, you might as well have asked me to walk a mile on my head. I would have found that no less challenging at the time.

The advice I received was to exercise – specifically go running. Although I understood a little about the mind-body connection, I couldn’t see how it would make that much difference – plus, I really couldn’t be bothered. Still, my messy thinking made me consider it.

At first, I didn’t run, I walked, and since it seemed a poor idea to leave myself alone with my thoughts, I listened to audiobooks. One of the books turned out to hold not just one key but a bunch of keys, each of which freed me a little more. The book was “Change your brain, change your life” by Dr. Daniel Amen.

As I listened, it became clear that at least some of my problems were down to my existing habits. Amen says, “if your brain works right, you work right”.  I hadn’t thought about my brain as an organ and had never considered how my habits impacted brain health – and how brain health impacted mental health and physical health.

The bad news: everything makes a difference.

The good news: everything makes a difference.

It’s a perfect mess. It’s all so tangled up together, it literally doesn’t matter where you start. Diet, sleep, exercise, meditation, mindset shifts, perception shifts, goal setting, it’s all good.

I did a lot of those before working up to “the biggie”, quitting booze. It took me 19 months and all of the other habits to be in place first but I got there.

As Jordan Peterson says, “start where you feel able to start”.

Although I did a fair amount of beating myself up for ‘not being strong enough to quit’ and I haven’t travelled in straight lines, I look back now and see that doesn’t matter at all.  I doubt I’d have made it all the way here without going the long way round because every step strengthened more than just my muscles or my mindset. They sort of work together – a type of ratchet system – with each change making the next one a little easier to make.

It doesn’t matter where you start. It only matters that you begin.

Robin S. Sharma

Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

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