So I have been noticing a rather large problem among the people I know. Including myself. It is a big one, and all of us go through it at one point or another (especially when we are adults). In fact, it is the number one reason that idiots think that children are smarter than adults (they really aren’t, I can prove it if you want to talk to some of the children I know.) But children are apparently better at skill acquisition for one large reason. They don’t care at all that people are watching them. They suck at everything, and they know it, and they just don’t care. Then, magically after trying stupidly for years, they acquire a small set of skills that they are decent at, and therefore proud of. At this point, everything is ruined, because now the kid CARES THAT PEOPLE ARE WATCHING! Before, when the kid didn’t care, it would go out and do the activities that it sucked at until one day it became good at them.
This child-like quality is enviable, until you realize that you can have it without having to revert to being a total moron. I discussed gaining momentum in a previous post, but this barrier to behavioral change is the one that is the most prominent for a lot of reasons, and thereby deserves its own post. 1) Sucking makes it feel like you are socially unworthy to do whatever activity you are trying to do. Social pressure is a huge barrier, and anyone that says they are immune is a total liar. So let’s address it, instead of letting it rule our lives for the rest of time. I am going to use skateboarding as the example. I started skating about 3 weeks ago, and I notice that I start boarding easier if I do it in my basement, or in my own town. Anywhere but the park, which is where I aught to be if I am gonna get good.
How can I get future Josh to the park? As usual, by taking a multiple-pronged approach. Firstly, meditation and presence allow us to identify “socially driven” thoughts AS THEY OCCUR and therefore allows us to do a kind of weeding that would normally not get done (because you aren’t there when the weeds are… fancy that.) So as usual my first prong is to use presence to identify my barriers, and occasionally totally remove them if they are irrational.
My second prong is to USE SOCIAL PRESSURE TO GET ME TO THE PARK. I tell my friends that I want to go, and then they start to tell me to go, and now the force that was keeping me from doing something that I like is helping me do it. I particularly like when this pressure is real-life, but facebook and the cell phone work just as well. In fact, sometimes better because the ignition for the target behavior can come at any time, even when I am not around my peers who board. This is huge, because I care more about what my friends think of me when I don’t board than how strangers do if I do, I can easily overcome the desire to not embarrass myself and just go to the freakin park.(Children do this essentially non-stop btw)
The third thing I do (which is it’s own post altogether) is NOT CARE ABOUT THE RESULTS OF THE ACTIVITY. If you are goal oriented, you will stop doing the activity when you don’t achieve your goals. OR you will the change the goal, which totally defeats the purpose of having goals in the first place. Stop expecting things to happen. Just get on the board. If you aren’t on the board, I guarantee nothing will happen. If you are and you “need” to ollie in order to justify the activity, then I will venture a guess that you will not be on the board for very long. In fact, I can also predict with pretty much perfect accuracy that if you continue to board, you will definitely learn to hate it. Because it feels like school, which the most goal-oriented of goal-oriented activities (and why no one remembers any of the stupid things they learn at school, because goals are stupid and ineffective.)
So, to review, the first reason we don’t do things because we suck at them is we fear judgement. To overcome this, be present, use social pressure to your advantage, and stay process oriented. The second reason sucking causes us to not even start a desired behavior is because we generally feel that having fun comes from being good at something, and if you aren’t good you cannot have fun. This is a lie, and I can’t wait for you to go meditate it out, I am just going to force-feed you the answer here. Children, who suck at everything, have garbage loads of fun doing everything. There brain is essentially just a stupid version of yours, so why, with the same brain, have you learned to hate doing things? It’s a complicated question, with an even more complicated answer, but a really easy solution.
Stop trying to have fun. There is no “fun” organ. You can’t tell yourself to have fun like you tell your right arm to catch a ball, or tell your fingers to type. Instead, “having fun” is an action that is ELICITED INDIRECTLY FROM YOUR MENTAL CIRCUMSTANCES. You cannot control most of your mental activities, but there is one you can learn to, all the time, 24-7. Presence. If you turn presence on, all the time, you can learn from there to bring the circumstances into reality that make fun happen, and thereby have fun doing the things you want to learn to do.
I can already hear the nay-sayers. “But idiot! You cannot have fun all the time!” (I already mentioned that children pretty much do, and they do it doing anything, but let’s hear this guy out.) “Fun is something that only happens every once is a while, and you can’t control when it happens, and you certainly can’t LEARN to allow it to happen on it’s own! Are you retarded?”. No. I am not. I can prove that adults do this with a different emotional construct, and they do it naturally and effectively and permanently just like children having fun.
They worry. You and I worry all day, without trying, and without thinking about it, and without WORRYING ABOUT THE RESULTS OF WORRYING! We follow the technical definition of mastery for worry. We are expert worriers. And lo and behold, just being good at worrying DOES NOT MAKE IT FUN! Good does not equal fun. Only fun equals fun. Which is a relief, because that means you can learn to enjoy any activity (including worrying in my opinion, but I wouldn’t try that for to long, people might start to judge you 😉 )
Damn, I was hoping this post didn’t boil all the way down to presence. But that’s what goal-less writing is all about. I hope that was informative.