Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What to Do When You Fall Off the Wagon

I know that to a lot of people, it seems like I lead a pretty charmed life.  I work out constantly.  I eat a very good diet.  I am able to work on my various projects all day, basically uninterrupted.  Yet I have one thing that you all should say to me next time you see me…

“Fuck you.”

Truth is, I’m obviously not perfect.  I don’t work out every day.  I sometimes cheat on the old diet.  I still enjoy a drink or five, and I’m not always the most positive guy in the world if you hang out with me, though I think people find me to be entertaining, for one reason or another.

The thing is, at least I realize this and I’m trying to make changes to my life.  It’s never easy: I’m not perfect, and you (probably) aren’t either.  But I realize that there’s a greater ideal to strive for in this existence, and I’ll be goddamned if I don’t try to pursue it while I’m here.

Still, when I try to make changes to my life, there are invariably times when I “fall off the wagon.” We’re all just animals when it comes down to it, and we’re all subject to “being too busy,” or otherwise giving into a moment of weakness when we should otherwise be productive.

Your initial reaction may be to punish yourself for being “weak.”  Fuck that.  You’re just as human as anyone else.  Any kind of a failure shouldn’t be met with wallowing despair, but rather with a newfound determination to make yourself into the person you want to be.  You can’t change the past (unless you’re Superman, in which case I have a few problems that you could help out with), but you can easily chart your path from here on out.  Drop the pity party and look for solutions.

Secondly, set a milestone for the next week that you can maintain, even if it requires a bit (or a lot) of restraint.  Tell yourself, “I’m not going to _________ for the next week.”  It might seem impossible at first, but after a day or two, you’ll be in much better shape than you would’ve been otherwise.

Finally, direct your latent energies toward something worthwhile.  I guess this sort of depends on if you take the “experience life” versus “societal improvement” route.  Far be it from me to dictate whether you should believe in one or the other: I actually think you should strive for both.  But no matter which philosophy you adopt, embrace it and live it.  Want to experience all life has to offer?  Take a trip.  Do something you’re otherwise terrified of doing.  Grow.  Live life.  Want to improve society?  Volunteer.  Work on a project that’s larger than yourself.  Do SOMETHING to advance our species on this planet.

Next time you find yourself eating a sundae or falling off of the path you set, don’t spend the next few days laying in bed, feeling sorry for yourself.  Instead, pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game.  And if you skinned your knee, or otherwise think you’re “deeply” hurt?  Rub some fucking dirt in it.  Get back on the horse.  Whatever you do, don’t waste time worrying about or (worse yet) mourning your situation.  There are few things worth worrying about in life—it would be a shame to spend some of your precious time thinking about something that really doesn’t matter.

D.J. Gelner is a writer and entrepreneur in St. Louis, Missouri. You can e-mail him at Follow him on twitter @djgelner. Friend him on facebook here.

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