I listen to a lot of podcasts, but for the last few years, this has been my overall weekly pattern to follow.
Yesterday my daughters and I followed along with this episode of Hidden Brain as we tried to make some achievable goals. I don't have my daughters' consent to share their goals, but I can share mine: I aimed to, in the next four weeks, continue running 3-4 times a week and to try not to break down when we're having family trouble at home.
Here's the gist of the podcast from the NPR page:
Through the years, Oettingen has studied dieters, students, job seekers, love seekers, people recovering from physical injuries, and other strivers. She's found they all have something in common: Those who have stronger, more positive fantasies about reaching their goals are actually less likely to achieve them. They lose fewer pounds, earn worse grades, receive fewer job offers, stay lonely longer, recover from injury more slowly.
There's a chance that my goals might be too achievable, but I'm not so sure. I battle through a lot of emotional weight most of the time and am good at giving up on well-being practices. Not crying and continuing with running are good for me.
Oh, and on the topic of running, I broke all my records on Tuesday:
I started by wanting to run just 20 minutes without stopping, but then I broke 27. Then 37. Then 45. Now I've broken an hour. However, I'm only increasing my goal by one minute a run. So although I ran an hour and seven minutes on Tuesday, my actual goal is now at 39 minutes.
Achievable goals, baby.
Recently, I've had to battle some existential despair. I don't feel like I know who I am anymore and I don't feel like I know anything. I catch myself muttering angry things to myself, correcting myself, and then getting angry at myself further. It's a slow descent, a windedness I don't think I've ever felt before, like being compressed under a pile of rocks, stone by pebble by stone.
A recent episode of Hidden Brain talks about "The Power and Problem of Grit" highlighted how grit--a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective—helps us build resilience, but it also makes us stick with lost causes.
As I've been trying to work through my own issues, the idea of "grit," of sticking through things in order to get the best outcome, has been interesting. I kind feel as if the grit I've adopted for my life has been generally positive, but sometimes negative. Recently, I've had trouble identifying the positives and negatives, however. It's as if I've gone grit-blind.
Two days ago, I wrote about my habit of people-pleasing. I discussed a little about how my desire to please people often gets in the way of my self-image and well-being, how my "niceness" impedes me. Today, I saw this little video on YouTube:
The video appears to advocate for the sort of honesty I wrote about a month or so ago, but also seems to act in an apologetics-styled manner towards said "nice guys," even to the point of potential victim-blaming. Although I don't agree with the video, it makes me a little uncomfortable. I'd like to share my innermost feelings, but I don't want to side with MRAs in the process.
But I'll admit that I have my share of inner tug-o'war. I've said before that I suffer from a Sylvia Plath-styled neurosis, where I can't help but feel like two worlds are in constant stress inside me. I cannot imagine an angst-free internal moment of my life; my insides are a constant tug-of-war between libertine and responsible citizen, between "nice guy" and... well... again, how would I know?
Which brings me back to grit. I will stick with being a nice guy it keeps on hurting me. Although I may attribute it to an endless capacity for hope, it might instead be a matter of single-minded stubbornness. I have grit, and perhaps even resilience, but that doesn't mean I point that grit in a good direction.
As the summary of the "Grit" podcast suggests,
But other research has also pointed to a potential downside to grit. Like stubborness, too much grit can keep us sticking to goals, ideas, or relationships that should be abandoned. Psychologist Gale Lucas and her colleagues found in one experiment that gritty individuals will persist in trying to solve unsolvable puzzles at a financial cost. And that's a limitation of grit: it doesn't give you insight into when it will help you prevail and when it will keep you stuck in a dead-end.
I don't trust myself enough right now to assume that I can assess when my grit "will help [me] prevail and when it will keep [me] stuck in a dead-end," but I look forward to getting myself to a point where I can.
That means that I'm going to have to "know myself," however, and I don't think I can do that right now.
So I'll work for an epiphany or settle for a manufactured one.
I was really moved by this recent story on This American Life called "Just South of the Unicorns."
A teenager runs away from home to move in with someone he's never met, his idol, the person he respects most of all — a fantasy writer named Piers Anthony.
I was never a big sci-fi/fantasy fan. I escaped to non-fiction—history, curios, philosophy—instead. But I certainly understand the need to escape from your day-to-day reality, with the desire to reset the clock with some extended quietness with text.
I can't wait for the summer.
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