Everything was going swimmingly. You’ve been kicking goals, working hard, knocking it up a notch. Then BAM! All of a sudden you’re eating food that doesn’t bring you joy, you’ve stopped exercising and you’re just generally hating on yourself and life.
Consistently feeling good requires awareness and a little aligned effort. Surprisingly, this effort doesn’t involve taking a 3 month sabbatical or an expensive holiday to get away from it all. It involves small, simple steps you can take every day to keep you feeling great!
A very wise mentor once told me about the 4 levels of mastering behaviour.
1.Behaviour that feels good AND is good for you (eg – getting a massage)
2.Behaviour that does NOT feel good AND is good for you (eg – a challenging but rewarding work project)
3.Behaviour that feels good BUT is NOT good for you (eg – getting blind drunk)
4.Behaviour that does NOT feel good AND is NOT good for you (eg – cutting yourself)
Let’s face it. Most of us spend the majority of our time in Level 2 behaviour. This is the stuff that doesn’t really feel good at the time (ie it’s a challenge) but enables us to achieve a higher purpose. Working, studying, exercise…
And while they may be good for us, these challenges sometimes feel hard. So when we need a break, we naturally want to do something that will make us feel good. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll descend into Level 3 behaviour, rather than stepping up to Level 1 behaviour. (And when I was younger, and really couldn’t cope, I used to descend further into Level 4 behaviour).
Let me rephrase…
“Thank god exams are over. Where’s that bottle of vodka?”
“Work was so shit today, I’m gonna sit on the couch and inhale a block of chocolate and a bottle of wine.”
“Ow, I’m so sore. I’ve been exercising like crazy and now I’m going to order pizza. I’ve deserved it.”
When we’re stressed out or tired after a challenge, we reward ourselves with behaviour that feels good but it doesn’t serve our higher purpose (Level 3).
Now this doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our achievements! It just means we need to replace the behaviour that feels good but is NOT good for us (Level 3) with behaviour that still feels good AND is good for us (Level 1).
This “feel good AND good for us” stuff is the sustainable, joyful, nurturing, resourceful stuff.
It doesn’t have to be big, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it’s better if it’s not because these activities are best done often throughout the process of being challenged so we don’t burn out.
When I first learned these steps, I wrote a list of 10 sustainable Level 1 activities that brought me joy. They are:
2. Yoga / Pilates
3. Reading Osho Zen Tarot cards
4. Reading an inspirational book or blog
5. Watching a TED video
7. Being near water
8. Blowing bubbles
9. Hanging on Pinterest
10. Creative journalling / writing “morning pages”
So what’s your Level 1 activity list look like? Let me know in the comments below so I can add to my list
Great article Tahlee. My recent rediscovery is art. I’ve taken up watercolour painting for the first time and absoutely loving it. It’s such an incredible zen activity which is also so rewarding. It does take a lot of planning, time, trial and error, focus and patience though. The time aspect in particular meant that I stopped doing art, yet somehow I always found some time to watch some TV in the past It doesn’t really make sense. Everyone should paint! (there is a clear reason why children are obsessed with it!).
Other level 1 stuff: Jogging, Yoga, Travel adventures, Hiking and spending time in forests, Reading graphic novels, reading normal novels, reading science journals, stretching, Walking (especially in new areas which I love doing), Drinking lots of water, Keeping to a mostly vegetarian diet, Making friends (and myself) laugh.
PS Miss you!
CHRISSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Thank you.
I love love love watercolours. I’m not the most deft at painting, but you’re right. Everyone should give it a red hot go! I also love your level 1 stuff - so many beautiful activities in there to choose from.
Miss you heaps too buddy.
Really good article Tahls, and it’s made me think about what’s good for me as well as enjoyable. I love cooking. When I cook healthy / vegetarian food that is also good for me so that would be level 1. Having baths is one of my favourite things to do in the world, and I justify them by the fact that they are so good to de-stress and relax. I’ve also recently discovered the joy of going for a simple old walk. Either near my house or at the beach. Reading your posts is also a great level 1 activity!! Oh and bodybalance at the gym. Can’t get enough of it.
Naw *blush*. Thanks Paula. You got Level 1 down pat! Definitely gonna add “take more baths” to my list