I sent around an NY Times blog post to some of my clients this week who are working on weight loss/fitness as their main goals. http://tinyurl.com/9hh7akp
What really struck me was that psychologists now realize that motivation that focuses on future benefits (like weight loss or improved fitness as motivators for exercising) don’t work well. Instead, focusing on physical activity as a way to enhance the quality of life right now works much better.
It made perfect sense to me. I started ballroom dancing almost six years ago, not because I was focused on losing weight or getting fit, but because I loved dancing and thought it was beautiful.
Dancing almost immediately made me feel good. The music, the socializing, the increasing proficiency (even when I wasn’t very good, I could see some progress all the time) contributed to feelings of well-being. In the meantime, I did lose weight and get fit, but frankly you can’t get me to exercise on the treadmill, the walking track or in the gym with those as motivators.
It made me wonder how often we force ourselves (for short periods of time) to be ‘good’ or to do things that are ‘good for us’, when the ultimate effective motivator could be the immediate rewards about how something makes us feel.
The best motivations for any healthy behaviors are feeling happy, feeling less stressed and developing friendships, especially when you work at a healthy behavior within a community and enjoy camaraderie that may be otherwise missing from your life.
So is there a healthy behavior you’d like to adopt? Is there a way of committing to that behavior that incorporates emphasis on how it makes you feel now? Can you adopt that behavior with a buddy or within a community?
And may you all pursue your physical/mental/emotional/spiritual health with passion, purpose, power and peace!
P.S. If you’re interested in learning to meditate, I recommend signing up for Deepak Chopra’s 21 day Meditation Challenge.