Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Loving What You Do

The importance of enjoying the habit

This seems important to me to manage simplicity in homeschooling (as well as in other areas).    It was weird that I was trying to think up a post "love your habits" and then I found this one already written!

Stephen Stills once wrote a song which went:
If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with! 
and though this may not be the best advice for longterm relational happiness, it seems to work pretty well as a way to manage one's life in other ways.

1.  Love what you do.
2. If what you have to do isn't directly lovable, find something to love in it

The cool thing is that sometimes the things you find to love in something not directly lovable both reveal something about yourself AND reveal where you are going.

I've come to love eating vegetables.  It was not immediate.  I had to detox from sugar and fat first.  And I had to start with the vegetables I already sort of liked.   Over time I started getting bored with, say, broccoli and cheese sauce, and went looking for alternatives.  So it was a process.   The same with rye bread.   I started eating it because I didn't really like the taste.   Now I like it.    I learned that something not quite accessible at first becomes more pleasant through (1) repeated exposure on a tolerable level (2)  avoiding the more accessible competitors, at least for a while (I can eat sugar now and not ruin my taste for alternatives -- in fact, often I choose the spinach salad with walnuts and raisins and vinaigrette OVER the trail mix because I can have a huge bowl of the salad and only an ounce of the trail mix).

And every time I choose the salad, and ENJOY it, I'm reinforcing a good habit.   If I choose the trail mix, I am reinforcing a good habit too, because I've limited myself to an ounce at a time.   But if I hate it and rebel against it, it doesn't work, because I'm reinforcing pain and resentment, and that is aversive. 

This works for homeschooling too because if you force yourself to do something you hate it will be very hard and take lots of energy that you could use in other areas.  If you start with a list of things you actually get some satisfaction out of, even if it's not what other people are doing, you will have a baseline of things that you can count on in your homeschool.  Then if you still have to, choose just a couple of hills you don't mind dying on, or crawling up painfully.   But don't make those painful hills the core of your homeschooling, or you will live in pain, and your body and soul will tell you quite rightly that this isn't the way to live, and you'll burn out, get sick, or just give up and feel bad about yourself.

This is not contradictory to the saints saying to love the Cross.  The operative word there is love.  When you love something you don't care how hard it is -- in fact, the harder it is the better.   One loves the Cross because one loves Him who resided there for three hours, key hours in time and eternity.   The Cross is a horror, but He makes everything beautiful by association with Him..   A saint loves Jesus so much that all he or she asks is to share everything with the Beloved.  I'm not saying that I, or you, achieve this in daily life.  Otherwise we would be saints (maybe you are, but I'm not).   I'm just pointing out that there is no contradiction.   Pain borne against one's will, or with self-absorbed pride or resentment, is simply wasted pain; but finding something to love about things not immediately pleasurable can be beautiful and satisfying.  On that note, I will feel like a hypocrite if I don't go vacuum, even though I'm procrastinating on it!

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this!