I don’t have a dishwasher. I haven’t had a dishwasher since my husband and I got married almost 2 years ago and moved into our adorable little bungalow. We love our home, all the light that streams in the many windows, the old hardwood floor, the special built-ins from 80 years ago. I think this is why I put up with handwashing all our dishes day after day.
I really enjoy cooking, baking, and tinkering in the kitchen, so it is quite challenging not to have a convenient machine to pick up after me. I have, however, learned the power of choice.
Choice is an incredible thing. I imagine getting a dishwasher and the decision I would make about whether to use it after dinner or wait until the end of the week until it’s full or just handwash because it’s quick and I want everything clean now. Knowing that I could use the dishwasher but choosing to handwash is very different from having to handwash and not having a choice in the matter.
What’s funny is that as I run this scenario through my mind, I find that I would probably more often than not choose to wash the dishes by hand instead of using my new shiny machine. This has changed how I see the dishes and my rubber gloves.
I think the same principle can apply to how we perceive exercise, dessert, and our lifestyle. If I can choose whether to eat dessert, I am at ease and can determine whether there is anything on the menu that I really like, whether I actually feel like something sweet to finish my meal, and whether I am already full. If dessert isn’t a choice and I’m not supposed to have it, I torture myself with anger, resentment (or guilt if I decide to order a pastry anyway). If I feel obligated to eat what the hostess has made from scratch, I come away with the same feelings.
The gym can be a place of punishment, penance, and self-loathing if exercise is not an option but rather a “must”, “should” or “ought to”. I know that when I treat movement as a privilege and see it as an enjoyable activity recognizing how it makes me feel physically and mentally, I often choose to exercise. If, on the other hand, I treat exercise as a requirement of the day, I cause myself to obsess whether I’m doing enough, burning enough Calories, or changing my body. This is a nasty place to be. Then movement becomes a source of stress rather than a natural stress reliever and I am more likely to dislike and even dread exercise.
Dessert and exercise are just two examples. For you it may be changing to whole grains, eating your greens, cooking more, eating out less, or jumping on the kale bandwagon.
Your mindset makes all the difference. Give yourself the choice in the matter and see how often you make the choice for your health, happiness, and wellbeing.
How does having a choice change the way you view food, exercise, or other things in life? Do you allow yourself the choice? Are you afraid that you won’t choose the “right” thing?