I should sleep more.
I should start my day, every day, by planning and getting organized rather than just jumping right into a task.
I should eat less.
I should read more.
I should drink more water.
Not one of these statements is arguable — at least not for me and my current habit set. I should be adhering to every single one of those statements and turning them into daily action. For they are not mere conjecture. They are proven by science, by time, and even by past personal experience to work. Always.
Yet sometimes I do them … and sometimes I don’t.
Quick: write out your own list of 5, or get a picture of your list in your head. I’m sure there are five bits of unassailable wisdom you rationally understand yet irrationally refuse to adhere to consistently.
We’re human after all.
But again: why?
Why is there a disconnect between an idea that we fully accept as true and our ability to make it a consistent, unbreakable habit?
Especially when, for me, following each of the five bits of advice above would clearly benefit my wellness, my performance, my happiness, my … everything.
Maybe it’s because I think the advice doesn’t apply to me.
I mean, I know it does … yet my actions sometimes suggest otherwise. And which is more trustworthy? Dime-a-dozen thoughts or the actions that actually give them meaning?
I may think I know the advice applies to me, but actions tell the truth.
Why is that?
Do I think I’m special? Do I think I’m better?
Do I think I’m so appreciably different that I live a life governed by a different set of rules, givens, and contexts than the vast majority of other people, over there, for whom this advice actually applies?
Oh sure, I’m special in certain ways. My personality is different than yours. I look different than him. I will react differently to the same stimulus than she will.
There is only one me.
Yet there is also only one world, with its unique yet mostly unwavering set of rules, givens, and contexts, which we all are subject to. My humanity is my own, but the human nature that grants it is the same one that grants you yours, and him his, and her hers.
So why would I think that all of this wise advice doesn’t apply to me?
Or, to be more specific, why would I act like that’s how I think?
It doesn’t make sense.
It certainly doesn’t make me better.
And if pride bordering on hubris isn’t the reason for it, then it’s at least chief among the causes.
This world may not have had all of its secrets revealed yet, but centuries of science, history, and human experience have revealed a heck of a lot of them. Most of them — the ones that matter — are fairly simple.
Drink more water.
The five on the list in your head.
And the one that applies to all of us, always: be kind as often as you possibly can be.
So what do we do to scale the wall of hubris that keeps us from fully connecting with these ideas? Embrace humility.
I’m special … but I’m no more special than you, and him, and her, and them. And we’re all in this together. So what seems to apply so consistently to everyone else surely applies just as much to me.
But the thought is only the first step. The action is what matters.
Pride is a step in our own direction; humility is a step together.
In this case, humility is the step down the right path.
Because it — the advice, the wisdom of the world — all of it applies to me.
It applies to you too.
And the only way we show we understand this is not by what we think, but what we do.
What do you know you should be doing more of, yet you haven’t been?
Self-awareness is the first step. Then sprinkle in a little self-compassion … because it’s okay. You’re not alone. We all struggle with this on different levels.
Then self-determine to do more.
It’s not that easy, but it is that simple.
I just finished a bottle of water I started drinking when I began this post. What small, humble step can you take right now?
It starts with one.
Image credit: Unsplash by Breno Machado