Making Work and Exercise Happier: Same problem, same solution
I just read Michael Bergeisen’s blog post where he interviews Srikumar Rao about getting happier at work.
Rao suggests that most importantly we all need “to recognize that we do not live in a real world; we live in a construct, and we made it.”
As we rush through our busy lives, we call upon mental models to help us work within each aspect of our lives.
These mental models are a problem for the same reason they are beneficial. They help us accomplish things, automatically, without much effort. So, while they make us more efficient, they also direct us to live outside of our awareness, on autopilot.
In terms of making work a happier place, Rao says the first step is to understand that our mental models are not fact, just a constructed model. Only with this awareness can we dismantle the mental model, and reshape it, according to what would work better for US.
Rao uses mental modes to explain the problem and solution, while I call consider it as a blueprint. But, we are talking about exactly the same thing. You can redesign your blueprints for making exercise happier (or any desired behavior) by simply following the first part of SMART Women Don’t Diet formula below.
Step One: Self-caring: Decide to become more self-caring and to boost your daily well-being. This decision orients us to creating change. Becoming self-caring literally plants the seeds that will help our lives fully bloom.
Step Two: Mindful: Recognize that our blueprints (e.g., mental models) reflect socialization and experience INSTEAD OF “Ultimate Truth.” Become aware of the specific beliefs and expectations you’ve learned about exercising that make you dislike it or be able to fit it into your life.
Step Three: Autonomous: Make the decision to take ownership of your life. Decide that you are worth this improvement. (The L’Oreal tagline we grew up with is actually very meaningful.) Start deconstructing the blueprints about exercise you were handed by society and redesign them based on your preferences and current life circumstances by building new beliefs and expectations. Exercise has to fit into our lives, not the other way around.
As you can see, the first part of the SMART Women’s blueprints for change are straight forward. But as you know, accomplishing these deep, foundational changes are not easy.
Instead of jumping into working out your body, do it right this time and start the workout in your mind.
What belief about exercise have you changed that transformed how you felt about it and/or helped you better fit it in?