According to new research by Bupa Health Clinics, most of us are slowly wishing our lives away.
“I’ll be happy when…”
If you reckon you’ll be happy when…that dress fits; you finally get around to joining the gym; you get a promotion – then you’re one of the many people Bupa surveyed who spends, on average, six years thinking about how wonderful the future is going to be, rather than enjoying the here and now.
Having sucked up enough self-development and mindfulness books to sink a ship, I am aware that this is not a healthy state of mind.
By assuming that the future will be better than today, we give ourselves excuses to procrastinate. Why change what we do, eat, think today when we can start doing that tomorrow?
The Slight Edge philosophy
I read an amazing book called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, which is based on such a simple but powerful theory: that even the smallest beneficial adjustments, repeated daily, can make an incredible difference.
I shared the premise of this book with Mr Maven, who has become a living, breathing example of the ‘slight edge’ philosophy in practice.
Three years ago, he started doing just 10 press ups every morning. You might think that 10 press ups isn’t going to make a hell of a lot of difference to a person’s health or physique. But it’s better than not doing it, right?
And 10 press ups every morning for a year really adds up. To 3,650 press ups to be precise.
What if you feel strong enough, like Mr Maven, to increase that to 30 press ups every morning? That’s nearly 11,000 press ups a year. 11,000 more than he was doing before. He didn’t have to change his life, just tweak it a little bit.
I, on the other hand, didn’t change a damn thing.
Until I had one of those moments that jolted me out of my lazy bubble of procrastination and made me realise I was living in the future.
A life changing moment
Mr Maven had just left for a business trip to the States and was due back in five days. As I tried to get out of bed that morning, I was unable to move my leg. The pain in my red, hot, swollen knee was excruciating.
I spent the next several days relying on kind neighbours to take my kids to and from school, while I took as many painkillers as was legally acceptable and hobbled around with a walking stick.
It was a scary week. I felt lonely and anxious and I desperately missed being able to do the most simple things: doing the school run, or popping to the corner shop.
Here’s my story:
These are the everyday moments we can so easily take for granted when we focus on the future, rather than the present.
It took a couple of weeks to get a diagnosis, with the help of physiotherapy, MRI and ultrasound scans. It seems I’d had some sort of trauma which had created a knot of calcification, which in turn had inflamed my (existing but mostly dormant) arthritis. The calcification disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived, but the arthritis remains.
Suddenly the ‘what ifs’ that I’d been focusing on – what if I lose a dress size; what if I go jogging every day – had turned into new more worrying questions. What if my health deteriorates and I can’t take the kids to school, or go to the supermarket, or I can’t work anymore.
I was letting life pass me by. I had to stop procrastinating. I had to start making adjustments now.
I picked up a couple of gratitude diaries and started being more mindful. I did my research and found a gorgeous puppy to join our family. Coco was the excuse I needed to get out of the house and take a brisk walk twice a day.
Then I hired a personal trainer for 10 weeks until I felt fit enough to join a gym. And now I’m swimming or exercising in the gym three or four times a week, as well as walking for 90 minutes every day.
I haven’t dropped a dress size yet, but I’m taking action. I appreciate how amazing it is to have a healthy, active body.
So I encourage you to also stop taking the simple things for granted. Cherish those everyday moments. Rather than imagining the future being better than the present, make a change today. No matter how small or insignificant it might seem, it is better than not doing it.
You just have to start.
If not now, then when?
After all, one day, you may look back and realise that you’ve done over 11,000 press ups and feel pretty bloody good about that!
What makes you grateful for your health? What everyday moments would you miss if they were out of reach? Please leave me a comment below, and use the hashtag #EverydayMoments on social media to join in the campaign and let me know what you’re grateful for.
Much love, Vx
[Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Bupa as part of the #EverydayMoments campaign. The clinics across the country offer a range of Pay as you Go services which don’t require insurance to access.]