October Goals and Yoga Giveaway: Flexibility and Stability


So we have a great giveaway for our goal check-in this month: it's a year's subscription to My Yoga Online. This normally costs $89.95 and it's pretty cool: they have vast numbers of streaming videos featuring yoga classes, pilates, meditation and other related om-o-licious things. Plus anyone who has an internet connection anywhere in the world can win, not just U.S. folks for once.

Another aspect of the giveaway I'm psyched about?  The prize also fits quite nicely into a fitness and self-improvement theme, as yoga is known for developing flexibility, and well as its opposite/complement, stability. Hooray for abundant metaphorical opportunities, the lazy blogger's best friend!


Because while you need stability and flexibility in order to get out of bed in the morning without falling on your face, they are necessary for pretty much everything else in life as well.  You need 'em whether we're talking relationships, productivity, happiness, growth, or the ability to tight-rope walk between skyscrapers while dodging flaming arrows and juggling bowling balls, should this be something you care to try some day.

However, I will try to keep this discussion brief due to some, er, flexibility issues of my own.

(Hi there, ACE Health Coach Certification! Yeah, so sorry I abandoned you in favor of a carefree Toronto vacation and a bazillion other distractions. But I haven't forgotten about you entirely. I paid good money for you and am WAY too freakin' cheap to let you expire without taking that test!)

Yes, do enter, Crabby--or you may never get a red shirt of your own.


Flexible Thinking: Going Beyond the Obvious

So flexibility is generally such a good thing to have that we get nagged about it all the time in all sorts different contexts. We're urged to mix things up, to avoid becoming a slave to routine or to perfectionism, to take that road less traveled by, to boldly blast through the boundaries of our comfort zones, and to go ahead and make hamburger meat out of our most beloved sacred cows. Flexible people are easy-going and spontaneous and creative and can think "outside the box."

Too many off-color caption possibilities...
how 'bout if I take the high road?

So yeah, whatever, it's all true but it's kinda boring and not exactly an exciting original line of thought.

But there is one aspect of "flexible thinking" that can be very useful for goal achievement, yet it is rarely advocated so I'm gonna jump right on it:

Learn to Reject Logic and be Totally Unreasonable.

So yep, Crabby is at it again with the crazy talk, as this harkens back to her belief that you should know whent to say the hell with "truth" and create your own reality.


But anyone who has studied cognitive psychology knows that the secret to a happy productive life is to be more rational, not less, right? There is a whole slew of faulty thinking styles that therapists spend years trying to eradicate from their clients' brains, why would I suggest you adopt them on a regular basis?

Because I'm a believer in strategic thinking, even when it results in logical contradictions. Sometimes the "truths" that motivate you to do something can be in complete contradiction to the "truths" that can keep you on track if you didn't do something.

For example, consider:

"It is vitally important to my long term health goals that I eat healthy meals and get some sort of exercise every day."

This can be a helpful thought!  Perhaps not literally true, because the whole "daily" thing is probably not essential as long as most days you are pretty good. And everyone knows that "musts" and "shoulds" are bad, right?

But for some of us, to get something done "most days," it may be more strategic to adopt the belief that it should happen every day.  I personally always aim for daily good behaviors, because life has a way of throwing up distractions and obstacles.  If I consciously aim for "most days," guess what... crap happens and I end up not with "most" but with "some" days.

But then, let's say you've started your day with your helpful thought above: "It is vitally important to my long term health goals that I eat healthy and get some sort of exercise every day!"

And instead temptations occur and you don't resist and you go off the rails and miss working out and dinner is a cheeseburger and fries followed by a slice of cake the size of your head.

What next, logical consistency? Or illogical inconsistency?

For me, after a f--ck-up, beating myself up with the "truth" that motivated me could lead to self-defeating thoughts.  It's not that far a leap for the subconscious to go from "I just f--cked up a vitally important health goal" to "I am a f--ckup, who can not seem to accomplish my health goals." Subconscious thoughts are sneaky that way.

However, suppose I temporarily switch my conscious belief to: "It is NOT vitally important to my long term health goals that I eat healthy and get some sort of exercise every day." But add: "As long as I am good most days. And I have been being mostly good and so I am obviously very capable of good behavior and I will be back on track tomorrow."

Voila, much better sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy and a greater ability to accomplish goals!

Note: my repeated experiments with irrational and/or inconsistent thoughts have not yet led me to entirely lose my grip on reality, at least in those instances when logical thinking is useful.  But stay tuned!

Stability: Not as Sexy as Flexibility but Just as Important

So lately I have been plowing through some exercise physiology material and learning about stuff like scapulothoracic and glenohumeral joints and the importance of force couples and other many other formerly mysterious body parts and processes. And I am struck by how freakin little I am able to recall once I turn the page the fascinating way stability and flexibility work in the human body!

In short: You can't lift big shit up safely if the muscles don't work together, and some parts need to move and some parts need to NOT move. You can't just pay attention to the noticeable flexible parts of the body that move and neglect the stable parts that don't, or you won't get much done.



And, again, hello metaphorical opportunity--this seems true for life and goal attainment as well.

In order to reach for the stars, you gotta have a strong enough foundation not to topple over when you throw your arms up to the sky.  To try to achieve new goals, you have to have a lot that's already working smoothly in your life to support you or you will just be flailing around in chaos.

For example, while it might be great for you to finish the last two thirds of that amazing and totally original screenplay you hope will make you famous...what if meanwhile you're about to be evicted from your apartment and the cupboards are bare and you still haven't gotten around to filling out any job applications, and you never tried to patch things up with your estranged family and haven't made any patient friends with couches you can sleep on? (Wait, I mean the couches for sleeping on, not the patient friends. Unless they're unusually soft and comfy).  Chances are, if you don't have a stable situation to chase your dreams from, that bright shiny successful future you're hoping for ain't gonna happen.

Yet it's so easy to forget to nurture and appreciate the more stable areas of life that provide the personal strength and sanity to enable you to be flexible--because they are just "there."

Your spouse or friends or family or home or community or your spiritual practice or your health or your need to get outdoors or the food that nourishes you... these may not be as exciting as that shiny new goal, but may be integral to achieving it in sneaky ways.

Because the quickest way to find out how important stability is? Just watch what happens when it's suddenly yanked out from underneath you.  Ask anyone who is going through a divorce, or who just received a discouraging medical diagnosis or a pink slip, or who used to live in the path of raging floodwaters, back when they had a house to live in. Even crappy situations that need to be ended can still cause all kinds of angst during the transition.



Plus, it's always good to nurture and appreciate awesome things in life while you have them just on general principle! Remember that famous Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi, in which a pair of gay guys put up a parking lot? As you may recall:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone.


So it may be a good idea check in with the things that support you in life, and do a bit of maintenance and tweaking every now and then.

The Goal Post and Yoga Giveaway

So it's time again to find out how everyone is doing and what they're up to!  To quote a previous post:

The monthly "goal post" encourages Cranketeers to share their quests and accomplishments, and also to reply to other people's comments in a supportive fashion. This sometimes results in prizes but more importantly makes other people feel really good.

At the end of the month, there will be a somewhat-but-not-entirely-random drawing in which a winner will be selected from commenters below.

I'm also going to check out a subscription myself, which the kind YogaOnline people gave me for free, and tell you what I think so that those who don't win but are curious can figure out if they may want to spring for it.

So it has recently come to my attention that many people find comment prompts at the end of blog posts annoying. And yet I seem powerless to stop myself from asking: Any thoughts on stability and flexibility?  What are you guys working on these days, and how is it going?

Photos:
Yoga cat: Amy Groark ; Outside the box: D.W. Dyer; Fun Crazy Lady: Orin Zebest Weightlifter: wikipedia; Someecard: someecards.com.

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