Something About Not Trying To Steer The River

A year ago my therapist asked me if I could do something “51 percent” better than I had done it the day before. I don’t remember what I was talking to her about, but I remembered how panicked I felt at the idea of making such slow progress. If I only did 51 percent better it would take years to make any progress at all and I already felt like I was vaguely behind in life. I thought the advice was so dumb I don’t know how I ever got around to trying it out, but I did, and it’s actually kind of a miracle worker of a rule. When I feel super stuck in something, I try to do one thing a little bit better than I did the day before and there’s something about making a little baby step that makes me feel really good. I do this with exercise a lot. I live by a lake and my default way of thinking is that I should walk around the lake every day. My default way of thinking is to track my steps and be preoccupied with the number and then think about how I can get more the next day and be hard on myself when I don’t. Those things get in the way because every day I don’t have time to do this 4 mile walk around the lake is not a failure, and thinking about it that way derails me from my goals. There’s something about not trying to steer the river that 51 percent helps me see. Some days my 51 percent is walking 10 blocks to get a bottle of wine and then going home. Sometimes it’s doing the dishes. Today it’s wearing this ridiculous fuzzy sweater that makes me happy and drinking my favorite coffee (INTELLIGENTSIA). I might get more steps in than when I was trying to walk around the lake every day, I don’t know, I am trying not to keep track. But there’s something that’s different about it that’s more important, and it’s a feeling of wanting to be outside and explore and wander instead of doing it because I will be mad at myself if I don’t. I feel a lot less insane than I did a year ago. I like myself more. TC mark

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