Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 1 of 30: Me First.

Alan Watts, in his autobiography "In My Own Way" put it as well as anyone I've seen:
" is well-known that--for men especially--the forties are a "dangerous decade, because if they have been well brought up, it takes them this long to realize that one sometimes owes it to other people to be selfish."  --Chapter 13
I am in my 50's, but the notion holds true.  A lot of things don't happen on schedule in life.

So, for the next 30 days, from now until Tuesday June 4th, 2013, I am making my "wants" (my desires, my agenda, my goals, my preferences) a priority.

Why 30 days?  I am inspired by this three minutes and forty-eight seconds of TED talk.  

"Putting my wants first" is not a habit like "biking to work."  This is something I think most people assume they do naturally, and indeed I have seen that some people do.  I don't do this naturally, not right now.  I wonder how much I can change that by 30 days of focused attention.

I don't expect to be transformed into a new man in 30 days, but I do expect that I might be more apt to take risks which I normally would not take if I know that on June 5th I can go back to the safety and familiarity of my more familiar habits.

I am doing this because I have just lived through a very unsatisfying few weeks with my closest personal friends.  My innermost circle is unhappy with me, I am unhappy with them, and I am unhappy with how we all got here.  I suspect much of the problem is a redundant voice in my head that keeps me stuck in scripted roles habitually.   I am not responding to this moment, I am stuck in some story I am telling.

The story has a formula:  If I do X, you will be happy.  If you are happy, you will find out what I want and give it to me because you will want me to do X more.

This sounds very rational, doesn't it?  Look again, it relies on a shaky set of assumptions.

  1. Doing X will make you happy.
  2. Your happiness will motivate you to express your gratitude.
  3. You will do what I want.
  4. You will want me to do X more later.

Ever come away from a disagreement with someone close to you saying "I just can't figure out what they want!?"

I'm going to give this formula a try instead:  If I do X, I will be happy.  If you like X too, come along!  If you'd rather I do Y, that's okay, but I am still doing X.

I fear this is going to be a little bumpy, but doing what I've been doing has been no cake-walk.  I'm not trying to make a change because things are going so well.

I am not committing to a post about this every day because that kind of commitment isn't something I want.  I know doing a blog post every day about something is admirable and impressive, but that's not the way I want to get there.  Not until June 5th anyway.  I'll update this when I want to.

The inspiration for this idea comes substantially from Dr. Robert Glover's self-help book "No More Mr. Nice Guy."   That's not my only source of inspiration, but it is an important one.  I am also taking this period as a time to work through the self-awareness exercises in this book (actually on paper, instead of just reading them and imagining what I would do if I actually did those things).  This work is too personal to share online, but I will summarize my insights as best I can in a public venue via my posts.

Now I want to be finished with this blog post and move on with my day.  :-)