§15 – A great recipe to be stressed out

(Part 27 of 37 in series, Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

Have you noticed: Once you know something, you see it everywhere?

Reading this section, I’m reminded of Joe Erhmann’s ideas from the book “InsideOUT Coaching,” and of Steven Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Both of which also counsel beginning with what’s inside; Beginning by taking a step back and noticing — perhaps _learning_ to notice is the first step — the broader context.

Over a decade ago, the previous-me was entirely focused inward, on myself, on the small picture. That previous-me molted as I managed to become self aware and began learning empathy. With empathy came the ability to listen and, most recently, the ability to communicate, “How can I help?”

And yet I still regularly find myself stressed out.

My impatience regarding…
fat loss
movement progression
the podcast
memento mori

…grows, and the things I appreciate– the things I have now which I have worked so vary hard for to this point– …well, I’ve grown accustomed to them and while I still internally appreciate them I’ve stopped showing that appreciation externally.

I need to shift my goals.

I need to move the goal posts.

I need to set milestones at smaller intervals.

When you make some new connection, one then suddenly sees it everywhere.

On a recent Saturday — a day I usually jam full of goals — I accidentally set so few goals for the day, that by 4pm I was completely done. Normally, I set my goals at “do all the things” [meme image omitted :], and at some point each day I surrender with a fatalistic, “that’s enough for today!” It took me a long time to get comfortable knowing I’m organized and motivated enough that I will make progress towards my long-term goals. But every day is either a day “off” with rest and relaxation with minimal work towards goals, or a day “on” where everything is ordered– flexible, adjustable, prioritized sure, but ordered none the less.

On this particular Saturday, at 4pm…

It was surreal. It was just a nice feeling, like, “Okay, what do I want to do?” I wandered around in this daze of, “Gee, the weather is nice,” “Wow, the feel of the concrete under my bare feet is nice,” “I’d forgotten to notice how comfortable this chair is,” and “Wow, this food is particularly yummy.”

What was different? Nothing.

I still had — still have! — an enormously-complex, personal productivity system which holds all the things I’m working on. That’s not bad; That’s good. It helps me greatly by remembering everything for me, so I can use my brain for having ideas and doing things. I still have a house with a sort of strange spot on one of the ceilings that I think means the roof might be leaking. I still have a leak in the shower that I haven’t figured out. There’s still some firewood to be split.

…but for one evening — a Saturday from about 4pm until I went to sleep around 9:30 — for one evening, I clearly forgot to put in one (or both!) of the ingredients that make up the recipe for being stressed out.

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Ever-present mental stress

Most people have been in some version of this mental stress state so consistently, for so long, that they don’t even know they’re in it. Like gravity, it’s ever present — so much so that those who experience it usually aren’t even aware of the pressure. The only time most of them will realize how much tension they’ve been under is when they get rid of it and notice how different they feel. It’s like the constant buzzing noise in a room you didn’t know was there until it stops.

~ David Allen from, https://www.librarything.com/work/1844807

The key insight for me was once I realized there are two “directions” to thinking: I was always good at vertical thinking, going down thru a project (big or small), planning, organizing and doing. This was simply “thinking”, and how could there be more than one “direction” in which to think?

Unfortunately, I often got stuck when my brain started doing this other direction of thinking for which I had no name; no concept to attach: The horizontal thinking. The hopping from project to project — and I use “project” in the most broad sense of ANY thing involving a goal (“remodel house”, “send holiday cards”), any size (“seven years of projet management and contractors”, “buy stamps, buy cards, stuff, mail” ), and any number of steps. My mind hopped uncontrollably from thing to thing, around and around, across all the open loops, as the same things came up over and over and over.

These days, having a solid capture and review system enables me to close those mental loops. I can often read for a half an hour without my mind once interrupting me with some random, “I need to do this,” or “I need to remember that,” thought. (And if it does interupt me, I simple capture that thought once. Done. Freedom.) In the beginning I used paper notecards, then notebooks, software, and on and on. The exact system does not matter. It only matters that you trust your system. Only when you truly trust your system will your subconscious close all those open loops.

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The distress of the privileged

http://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/

If you are one of the newly-visible others, this all sounds whiny compared to the problems you face every day. It’s tempting to blast through such privileged resistance with anger and insult.

Tempting, but also, I think, a mistake. The privileged are still privileged enough to foment a counter-revolution, if their frustrated sense of entitlement hardens.

So I think it’s worthwhile to spend a minute or two looking at the world from George Parker’s point of view: He’s a good 1950s TV father. He never set out to be the bad guy. He never meant to stifle his wife’s humanity or enforce a dull conformity on his kids. Nobody ever asked him whether the world should be black-and-white; it just was.

~ Doug Muder

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An addition to your knowledge

If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity […] you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge—a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral.

~ Arthur Schopenhauer

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But I wanted to be special

But at our core, whether we’re an insecure teenager from Quebec, an overworked woman from India, a worrisome grandmother from Texas, or a desperate immigrant living in Australia, we all seem to struggle with the same small grouping of stressors and anxieties[.]

~ Mark Manson from, https://markmanson.net/biggest-lesson-learned-from-you

In recent years—particular in that one where I regularly had a therapist—this became glaringly obvious to me. First, I started noticing when my petulant child arrives with a list of grievances, and using that as a cue that it’s time to shift gears, shift tasks, take a nap, or something. I note that my mind loves to believe it’s, at the very least, in control of itself. But that turns out to be absolutely false, because about half of my central–nervous system is in my skull, and the other half is hanging down connected to all sorts of non-conscious things.

Second, rather than try to help everyone else with the same problems I have—uh, hello, if I have the problem it’s clear I don’t know how to fix it. Instead, I’m dashing off into the mountain flowers working on things which are fun. Because that really does help me. How cool would it be if some other people (with the same problems as me) would also be helped?

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A mythology around food

Reactions so far have been a combination of interest and concern. The prevailing belief does seem to be that humans require three meals every single day, and you deviate from this number at your peril – missing lunch or breakfast is survivable but worrisome, eating only dinner is masochistic, and eating nothing for a day is a sure sign of disordered eating or some other form of mental illness.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2022/04/the-myth-of-three-meals-a-day/

Most of the reactions I get are concern. I’ve zero interest however in what others think of how I eat. I’m still over-weight because I binge eat; I binge eat as a form of stress relief, and I’m okay with that. (It’s vastly better than other forms of stress relief which I am happy to remain free of.)

The really interesting affect of all my fasting is that it’s completely changed how I think about others’ eating. For a long time I would think judgmentally about others’ eating, and sometimes I’d even make the egregious error of voicing my opinions. But my fasting has taught me how annoying (and patently incorrect if I’m being honest) others’ opinions are about eating—and then “physician heal thy self!” I turned that into self-criticism about my thoughts regarding others’ eating. Not only do I no longer voice my opinions, I rarely even have thoughts about others’ eating habits. I didn’t simply learn to stop having an opinion, but I stopped thinking I know better.

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Cool-Whip

Later, when the Doritos were reduced to crumbly fragments barely worth fishing out of the bag, I reflected on what had gone wrong, and remembered something I discovered years ago about resolutions but forget constantly.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2022/03/you-dont-need-a-promise-you-need-a-plan/

The other day, I finished off the remaining more–than–half of a can of Cool-Whip. To be clear: I mean that I ate it directly. It’s not terrible as far as things go. But it’s absolutely not the sort of “food” that I want to eat. It definitely doesn’t move me towards my goals. I knew I was going to do it, weeks ago when the can appeared in my refrigerator to be used with some dessert or other. I knew I was going to do it when the can went back in the fridge after dessert. Sure, it took a couple of weeks, but then after an entire day of being stressed out, things played out just as I knew they would. Cain has a plan. I should probably get a plan before the next can of Cool-Whip is left like a lamb for slaughter.

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Movement

We all have a duty to look after our physical health. The body is your vehicle through which your mind and spirit travel in and act through, throughout your life. We’re lucky to have abundant information, resources, and teachers to help us for caring for our body, but without personal responsibility and action, progress is left to chance. Ancient medicine taught us to be active participants of our own health, modern medicine encourages us to be passive recipients of health. We can make the best of both by placing more attention and energy on observing our body, environment, and taking daily action to create energetic surplus through moderating stress, practicing movement, good nutrition and quality rest.

~ Soisci Porchetta from, https://www.humanpatterns.net/blog/2018/6/22/what-is-movement-practice

I suspect that a lot of people reading my musings are already steeped in the wisdom of movement generally. It’s simply nice to find things like this on the big ‘ol Internet; A large article written by someone who’s clearly thought a lot, moved a lot, and thought a lot about moving. There’s a wonderful quote that feels parallel to this article’s sentiments:

No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training … what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which is body is capable.

~ Socrates

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Somatic movement

A somatic approach to movement can help us get reacquainted with ourselves. This is our home base after all. It’s our guts and tissues, our thoughts and perceptions. It’s our subjective experience of life. […] When we cultivate self-awareness through movement, we come up against the boundary of self and other. We recognize that we don’t live in a vacuum.

~ Chandler Stevens from, http://chandlerstevens.com/blog/2016/11/9/connection-relation-and-somatic-ecology

The word “reacquainted” leapt out at me. Every time I truly pause to pay attention, I’m immediately confronted by my physical self. There’s the inevitable settling towards senescence, and frankly that doesn’t bother me. I enjoy looking back at the things I was once capable of and thinking, well, that was nice! No, the confrontation I’m talking about is the stuff that I know is my fault… and I’m not going to list physical metrics. Suffice to say: All I’d have to do it remove the stress and everything else would settle back to a wonderful baseline that I’d love to return to.

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Creepy

Motility, and in particular directed motility, is decisively important for host colonization, as bacteria deliberately seek to colonize an organism and conquer all niches.

~ Ludwig Maximilian from, https://phys.org/news/2022-03-stress-hormones-bacteria-host.html

*shudders* The article is about stress hormones in people, and research into how bacteria are (not “may be”) using our hormones to signal when they (the bacteria, *shudder* again) should go on the offensive and move. I don’t have anything to add. This just struck me as creepy.

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