The Unexamined Life

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

-Socrates

We threw a baby shower for my sister tonight, and as I was listening to conversations going on around the room I was in particular admiration of my sister’s sister in law.  She carried on conversation with ease and confidence, expressing her opinions without skipping a beat.  I have so much admiration for the people in my life that have such decided opinions, routines, and particularities. When I talk, words tend to choke in my mouth, and I tend to express opinions somewhat impulsively — one day I might tell you I love chocolate cake, the next I might tell you I’m not much of a cake person. One day I might tell you I don’t watch what I eat, the next I might tell you I’m thinking about going Paleo (can you tell I’m going to Hawaii in a week and am having anxiety about inevitable food binges approaching over the holidays?).

I don’t think I’m super consistent about things that I express, and it leads me back to Sunday School lessons about making decisions before you get in a situation where you have to decide what to do: decide not to drink alcohol BEFORE you go to the party, decide where you will draw the line physically BEFORE your hot date tonight, decide BEFORE walking into Target how much you will spend and what you will and will not buy (and what isles you must not go down!).

A successful life needs rules and a routine.  Waking up and beginning your day with no plan is a recipe for disaster (fail to plan, plan to fail). I have a HUGE problem with this.  I am not a routine person and I tend to be wishy-washy in the things I want. Which leads me to the problem with making exceptions.  There is always an excuse to make an exception to your rules (if you even have rules to begin with), and if you EVER let yourself make an exception without a dang good life-or-death sort of reason, you will ALWAYS make exceptions, which means most days will end up being a not-working-out sort of day, or a quesadillas-for-dinner sort of day, or a spent-my-grocery-budget-on-clothes-at-Target sort of day.

Here is what my husband recently heard and repeated to me about excuses:

“Excuses are how we make ourselves feel better about sucking.”

We need to decide what our principles are, and we need to live them absolutely. And to do this we need to stop and write down the principles for our lives regularly, and we need to speak about them out loud.  We need to weave our rules for life into conversations with our friends so we are accountable to live them.  This could simply mean that each day we write down something we’ve observed.  Do this at the same time every day, even if you only take 5 minutes to do it. If we don’t write down our thoughts, they are fleeting. When we write them, they’re more likely to stick, and even more likely if we tell others about them.  Which reminds me of one more thing my husband read to me yesterday:

“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”

-Thomas S. Monson

It’s pretty amazing how much more likely I am to work out and avoid Target when I know my husband is going to ask me what I did during the day and how my workout was.  Find someone to hold you accountable to your actions — your mom, sister, spouse, or even a counselor. And write every day!!!!!!!

J

PS – My brother Matt left on his LDS Mission to Lyon, France today! He entered the Provo Missionary Training Center today and we all were choking up as we hugged him at the curb and watching him roll his luggage down the sidewalk through the swarm of other missionaries getting out of their families’ cars.  I’m so proud of my amazing brother and the young man he has become and I’m so proud of my parents for loving and teaching him so well.