Sunday, February 5, 2012

Everything's Alright When You're Down

This year began by my planting the seeds of momentum-building ideas and habits which aligned with my short- and long-term goals. The well-needed vacation at beginning of the year yielded a productive mental space for me to evaluate my priorities and interests. I implemented several goal-assisting habits to my daily activities since the fruitful break.

Then the wheels of progress suddenly slowed to a crawl about ten days ago. I contracted cold-like symptoms. Crap! I usually have no more than one or two bouts with feeling under the weather every year, but I respond to onsets of such discomfort by flipping into a "Beat the Cold" mode: I focus on sleeping more, bundling up in layers to stay warm throughout the day, altering my diet (drinking more clear soup and avoiding dairy), and dropping any routines or activities which did not relate to hastened recover--including most activities which involve expenditure of physical and/or mental energy. The recent debacle wasn't severe enough that I missed any time at work, but I wanted to get through the rough patch as soon as possible. I have been through the routine so many times that I knew it was a matter of time before I kicked the cold's sorry ass.

But this time I experienced something that I have never felt during my previous rounds of overcoming the cold. Every day that I spent focusing actively on getting better meant passing time "taking it easy." That meant plenty of bedrest. In a frantic rush to avoid physical and mental exhaustion, I halted many of the goal-oriented habits and activities such as working out at the gym, practicing the piano, writing blog entries, and studying. I often came home from work exhausted and immediately bundled up in my bed instead of spending evenings productively. I felt extremely frustrated by the prolonged inertia.

Forcing myself to refocus my energy from taking active steps towards my future goals to simply overcoming the cold meant having to deprive myself of experiencing highly-productive days. It was aggravating to end each day unfulfilled--each day of not learning future job skills or partaking in daily routines was a wasteful day. After spending weeks of productive habit-making, it felt foreign to let my mind and spirits spiral into a situation where I felt I wasn't doing anything worthwhile (other than reading couple of good books and learning about where to score best hearty Tom Kha and Tom Yum soups in my neighborhood). Thankfully, participating in occasional social gatherings during this time was therapeutic and timely.

I feel that this cold-induced inertia was one of those "one step backward, two steps forward" situatons. It sucked that I didn't participate in rewarding habits and activities over the past ten days. But it's exciting to realize that my source of frustration is caused by my self-imposed high expectations: I'd rather feel that I am cheating myself for not putting in a productive day of learning, instead of coasting through every day without challenging myself or learning anything. Slowing down is not a preferred option for me since making awesome involves challenging myself and pushing boundaries. Forcing myself to seek comfort for the sake of recovery caused a prolonged period of mental discomfort--how ironic!

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