For most of my life, I’ve focused on being positive.
Not ignoring the negatives, challenges or problems – just choosing not to give them my attention.
Writing my book in San Francisco removed me from Cape Town’s routine. This has forced me to evaluate routines and the ‘convenience’ that’s built into that.
An epiphany about Inconvenience.
I’ve challenged myself to climb the equivalent of a hundred story building every day during the week.
Staying in Nob Hill, surrounded by steep hills in every direction, is perfect to get the ball rolling every day. Walking to gym or choice of writing venue for the day, means if I see a hill – I must go up.
It was on one of those hills taking me away from my destination that sparked a deeper reflection on inconvenience – and why it’s my ally.
It sounds counter intuitive: convenience is something I’ve come to associate with better.
But is it better?
In the short term – it appears so.
In the long term?? I’m leaning towards harmful.
Inconvenience is Your Ally
If you’re looking to
- Build Value in your life
- Improve decision making
- Become more present
- Achieve your goals
- Increase Propensity to Implement
- and look after our planet in the process?
- Build Value in your Life
Training to climb Table Mountain every day forced me to think of ways to prepare; one of which included a decision to stop using the lift. Living on the 8th floor was just enough to create temptation. The lift is convenient, especially when you’re carrying bags and a cooler box from a weekend away, but choosing the stairs was a masterstroke in training my brain to accept inconvenience.
I can easily justify that the convenient option like taking the lift saves me time, which exonerates my decision.
Then I timed how long it takes: 1 minute 36 seconds.
Who doesn’t have that time to climb stairs?? No running or going faster than usual.
And yet the value gained physically, getting faster and fitter no longer huffing and puffing, and mentally, the inconvenient option becoming second nature no matter what; is invaluable.
Both helped me achieve something that’s never been done before.
2. Improve Decision Making
Walking home around lunchtime from ‘Habitat for Humanity’s’ workshop in West Oakland, there’s a corner shop with unhealthy gap filling snacks. I hadn’t eaten since last night’s dinner and my stomach was reminding me.
The hunger signal easily justifies ‘I must eat now’ and pardon the lack of healthy options (I should know – I bought crisps the first time I walked past!) This time I was more mindful and posed the question ‘would I’d die’ before getting home without eating.
Then you don’t need to go inside.
Once in a while’s fine and I advocate living a balanced life – eating something deemed ‘naughty’ less than you eat healthy food, doesn’t make you unhealthy. BUT – just like climbing stairs every day became second nature – so too will ‘popping in’ to a corner store for a snack of the bulge creating persuasion.
Choosing to wait doesn’t make that much of a difference bulge wise now – but that practice over a year adds up to 56 000 calories – the equivalent of doing burpees (the worlds most hated high intensity exercise) every day for 15 minutes for a year – or 21 minutes 5 times a week to balance the scales.
Try doing them for 5 minutes and you’ll never look at crisps the same way again!
Inconvenience didn’t kill me, and I satisfied the hunger with veggies at home – no burpees required.
3. Become Present
We’re told by ancient wisdom, meditation, mindfulness and modern-day philosophers to be present.
Typing this sparked another thought.
Every time we choose to make a convenient decision: taking the lift, eating an unhealthy snack, sleeping in instead of working out – are all opportunities to practice for future present moments.
Committing to climbing Table Mountain every day predicted what 365 present moments would look like.
‘I don’t feel like it’ days were hiding in there – I knew this from years of winters rolling around in Cape Town and hibernating; preferring the sanctity of my warm bed versus heading out into the cold wet darkness.
That wasn’t an option.
I pre-empted my old convenience default setting and slid the button across to light up the inconvenient one.
Daily practice choosing inconvenience made future ones come more naturally.
4. Achieve Your Goals
If you don’t have goals, how can you measure whether you’re on track today? Goals allow you to test if your choice of (in)convenience is assisting or hindering you.
On the physical front I base my health on cholesterol levels, sugar levels, resting heart rate, body fat percentage and how often I get sick.
Mental health is tougher to define, but I evaluate how I feel around gratitude, happiness, fulfilment, and how I’m seeking knowledge for growth.
The answers to all the above is proof of how well it’s going.
It’s never all perfect – and I’m okay with that. Learn to accept the fluidity of life and sometimes bad days will come. Just be conscious of allowing days to becomes weeks.
It’s easy to choose convenience, I know I can (and do!) with food. I really enjoy fast food, so I must consciously choose not to walk in the door. Instead, I create opportunities to reward myself (like with my new best – Johnny’s Doughnuts!) and build that into a healthier set of decisions.
Doughnuts: once a month treat. Fast food – limited once every two weeks.
Having a girlfriend on the same wave length is a massive boost. Thanks to Jessie – I now have celery juice (almost) every morning and healthier options around how we cook food, like Coconut oil, as well as a more vegetarian diet.
I view extreme diets and avoiding items I enjoy as unsustainable. I simply create a lifestyle which includes things like enjoying doughnuts once a month that keeps me on track to achieve my health goals.
5. Increased Propensity to Implement
Knowing something valuable means nothing if it isn’t used. Problem is – I don’t know what I don’t know.
The celery juice is a perfect example.
I’d never heard about the benefits until Jessie taught me and to understand them I highly recommend checking out the Medical Medium’s 10 Health Benefits of Celery Juice blog. Now we buy fresh celery and take turns juicing every morning.
Clean, cut, blend, juice in a nut bag, drink.
For convenience sake, I suggested juicing the night before, then it’s ready after training.
‘Nope – the best way to drink it, is immediately after juicing’.
Experts back up their suggestions because they tested it. I want the maximum benefits; it’s why I don’t spend three hours at gym when thirty minutes does the trick. So that idea immediately gets put on a greyhound to somewhere far, far away.
Buying it is another form of convenience, but is it fresh? If not, you end up paying more for something less effective. Instead of seeing it as a chore – I see it as another form of meditation and enjoy the process.
Two mason jars worth (around 500ml or 17 ounces) takes fifteen minutes to make.
You don’t always see results quickly; but a rash on my chest that my dermatologist couldn’t fix in eight years, is now gone completely.
Applied Knowledge is power, start implementing the healthy practices you search for and read about.
6. Help Our Planet
Turning my self-evaluation to pollution and our planet, shows how quickly I can change convenient behaviour. Here’s an example:
Take away coffee cups (biodegradable or not) – are a product of convenience. I love coffee, time is valuable, and I want to be able to drink while I’m on the go. Once that coffees finished in 10-15 minutes, it spends more than a lifetime polluting our planet.
Never mind the money being spent by buying coffee this way. Its estimated millennials spend $1100 (R15 400) a year on take away coffee. When you add up how many people are buying these take aways the stats become staggering:
- 16 billion coffee cups used globally per year, which equates to
- 6.5 million trees cut down
- 4 billion gallons (15 billion litres) wasted every year, the equivalent of 40 000 homes using 300 gallons (1 135 litres) a day
- Enough energy to power 54 000 homes per year
Same goes with takeaway plastic utensils, straws, shopping bags and plastic water bottles. Have no fear – check out this website on what solutions you can use HERE for the 10 every day products killing the environment.
What’s your feeling now that you’ve read that? I suspect you’re thinking along the lines of good and bad?
It’s what I used to do (and still guilty on occasion) – all this does is force you think that only one is good and only one is bad. Not true. This is a perfect opportunity to practice a more constructive thought pattern.
I haven’t said convenience is bad once (go back and check), I’ve simply shared my view on how inconvenience can benefit your health, mindset and the planet.
As with everything in life, I’m learning that what is ‘good’ one moment, can be ‘bad’ the next.
What I hope you’ve seen is watering ordinary with inconvenience, in time turns it into extraordinary.
It’s your choice.
You read point five about implementing – so where are you going to practice this in your own life?