If You Know What’s Good For You, Do What You Love

January 5, 2012

I love to run, but I love doing yoga more.

I know this because I go for a run maybe 3 times a week at the most.

I practice on my mat everyday, even if I just pop up into handstand a few times or a sneak a quick pigeon.

My yoga practice takes precedence and although I’ve been a runner for longer, I’d rather do hanuman than “put miles in the tank” for some big race in the future.  I run because I love to run, but I love yoga more.

I love to cook, so I would rather spend my time preparing food that is good for me than casually grabbing a snack of unknown origin, prepared weeks or even months before in some factory in Iowa.  I have no personal complaint against Iowa or even convenience, but because I love to cook, I’ll do it 3 times a day if I can, instead of letting some faceless stranger do it for me.

If something I do brings me joy, I feel pretty strongly that I should continue with that practice until I stop enjoying myself.  That’s also probably why I don’t run more than 2 or 3 times a week.  Otherwise my blissful jogs through the trails near my house would start to feel like a job.  I tip my hat to the marathon runners and triathletes of the world, but I love my life a little too much to commit to those training regimens.  I would love running less, I think, if it felt enforced.

Yesterday I happened to have a conversation with a student I very rarely see.  She mentioned that she missed taking my classes, but was attending a different class–a non-yoga, exercise class– at the exact same time as my class is held.  She said to me, “I don’t really love it, but I do it because I know it’s good for me.  So that’s why I go.”

Which sounds like a drag.

I mean, I get it.

But honestly, I don’t.  Why would you spend your precious time, your money, and why would you exhaust your body even if you don’t enjoy it?  I understand the premise, at least from the perspective of my student, which is that she felt this class would help strengthen her in ways nothing else would.  Therefore “good for her.”

It seems to me that we are actually less satisfied when we are doing something we dislike, benefitting less because we aren’t 100% committed.  Your mind might be on board, your body willing, but your heart simply isn’t interested.

This idea is like one day waking up and wondering what happened to your life.  You can either live the life you love or live the life you feel obligated to live.

I don’t love to meditate.  I know it’s good for me, but frankly, I’m crap at it.  I’ve tried different methods, different times of day, even different locations in the house, hoping that something will spark a love for mediation that has simply never existed in me.

Very recently, I stopped forcing meditation on myself.  I realized that the harder I tried, the more cranky my body would get every time I went to take a seat.

So now I sneak in a meditation here and there when sitting with my eyes closed just happens to feel like the right thing to do.  I don’t time my meditations like I used to.  I don’t make myself sit longer than I want to.  And you know what?  It feels good.

I don’t really believe in making New Year’s resolutions.  I think often New Year’s resolutions are ambitious without any real backbone.  But I do believe in doing what I love.  I believe in creating a life I not only love, but feel renewed by every day.  I want to feel inspired by my own choices and my own actions.

This isn’t a prescription to give up so easily on things you don’t like at first.  Simply a suggestion to observe your actions honestly.  Is what you are choosing to do continuing to serve your entire being?  It shouldn’t just the establish the idea of being good for you.  Everything you do SHOULD be good for you.  Good for you simply because every part of you will be satisfied on a level beyond the surface.

Advice to my student, to anyone really:

I miss you in class, too.  I fully support your need to have lots of variety in your life.  But if you know what’s good for you, do what you love.

Love what you do.

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