Having jogged for a while and having finished all the basic stretching exercises I regularly do, it was time for stomach exercises. Which meant I had to lie down on the grass. [By the way, if you don’t have the background, every morning I go to Cubbon Park for jogging. I have been doing it for almost 2 weeks i.e. right after I realized that I have to shed the extra Kgs I have put on OR buy new jeans with different waist size.]
Anyway, so I had done the jogging part and was through with the exercises bit and it was time for me to lie down on the grass and start the stomach exercises. Though I do it everyday, today I found it particularly distasteful to lie down on the dry grass and pick a bit of dirt all over my body. And I thought, ‘let me not do it today; from tomorrow, I’ll get a mat and then do the stomach exercises’.
What’s the big deal you would ask. Where is the mind trick you might wonder. Hmmm. Patience. I’ll tell you. Have a bit of patience.
So, I had almost made up my mind to call it a day and was about to leave the exercise field, when a thought crossed my mind. The thought was more of a question that I asked myself. “Everyday I lie down on this grass and get dirty. But it is only today that I find it so extremely distasteful. What’s the deal here? Why didn’t I feel the same way yesterday?” And guess what. I knew the answer.
I have always found the stomach exercises boring. So boring that I never want to do it. I have never understood why but it is boring to me. But I can’t tell myself that it is boring. Because I’ll never accept this excuse from myself for not doing stomach exercises especially when my ponch has become all too visible. So, I have to find different reasons to convince myself. Yeah, that’s funny. First, I have to convince myself for not doing it. Secondly, I have to find some valid reasons as I won’t accept any shit from myself. ‘Boring’ is not a good enough reason for not doing it.
So, this was an example of ‘giving yourself wrong reasons’. If I look at my day and look at all the decisions that I make during the day, I find so many instances of myself giving wrong reasons to myself ;)
Why do I do this? And why do you do this (well, believe it or not, you are as much human as I am)? I think our brain is divided in two parts. One (right hemisphere) tells you what you want/like/prefer/inclined-to and the other one (left hemisphere) tells you what should/must/ought-to. The first one is your gut/instinct/feel and the other one is your learning/experience/reason/rationalization. More often than we realize, we find ourselves in a situation when the two parts differ in their verdict on an activity. One will say ‘yes’ and the other will say ‘no’. We have a natural tendency to go by what the right hemisphere feels like. But we have been systematically taught and trained to go by what the left hemisphere reasons. And in the middle of these two hemispheres lies an activity whose fate is to be decided by the winner of the two.
Now, with all this background, we can look inside the brain and see what goes on there.
I go jogging for the first day. My right hemisphere says that stomach exercises are boring. My left hemisphere says ‘boring or not, I must do it anyway’. I am a man of reason. I follow reason. I interpret what the right hemisphere says in the context of reasoning. The right hemisphere says that ‘exercise is boring’. I interpret it as ‘exercise is boring and hence I should not do it’. My left hemisphere says ‘but what about that fat stuck to your stomach’? I conclude that the argument by right hemisphere is weaker. The left hemisphere wins. I go for exercise. While doing the exercise, my right hemisphere maintains a distasteful feeling within me because I chose to do it against its wishes.
So, every morning, I have this argument in my right and left hemispheres and the left one always wins. But the right one manages to keep a distasteful feeling throughout the activity. This sense of distastefulness keeps accumulating over a period of time. And boom! Guess what happens one day!!
One day, eventually, just before I am to start the activity, I get a feeling of revulsion at the thought of exercising. The feeling says that it is always very distastefule to exercise. I interpret the feeling as ‘it is always very distastefule to exercise here’. Notice the extra word ‘here’ I add to what I felt. And because I am a man of reason, I must find a reason for this too. And instead of looking inside what makes it so distasteful for me, I look outside. I look for external factors. I notice the grass and dirt. And my left hemisphere says this is the reason I don’t like exercising here. I don’t like getting dirty basically.
This is absolutely wrong. It’s the job of my right hemisphere that does not wish to exercise (for whatever reasons; may be people are lazy by nature; I don’t care; it’s not relevant here). My right hemisphere has systematically led the left one to find a reason for not doing exercises.
Ha! The right hemisphere wins!!