BY: T. Franklin Murphy | June 2018
The Small Steps of Improvement
We typically change through small imperceptible steps. The adjustments go unnoticed and we easily tire, reverting back to old practices and familiar failures.
The long-term benefits of living right validate earlier sacrifices. But while in trenches, fighting momentary drives, we struggle. The goals to change lose potency when current efforts fail to provide recognizable improvement—at least not at first. When we implement a healthy behavior, the basic fabric of our lives often remains unchanged. The quality of the feeling experience of living continues relatively unaltered. The same problems exist. We want our life to resemble the half hour sitcom— where the problem is solved before the last commercial break. Subtle improvements often are undetectable. A few diet changes and a few extra minutes of exercise doesn’t immediate create the body of our dreams. It does, however, slowly improve vitality and health. But all we notice is the sore muscles and lost time.
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We lose vision of the future when too tied to the present. When the hope dampens, so does the drive to change. For those struggling with chemical addictions, the future becomes more and more of a blur as the craving increases in strength. Eventually the future is meaningless, and the present all powerful. Usually commitments are made from the opposite perspective. The ill effects of the addiction, leaving us sorrowful and helpless, drive the desire to change. Success demands we maintain that vision as the circumstances change. Continuing the diet when the donut beckons, avoiding the drug when depressed with life, and saving money when the salesperson calls.
We need to prepare for the upcoming challenges while still enjoying the visions, foreseeing the setbacks, the loss of motivation, and unsettling obstacles. We make plans while the focus is clear; not waiting for the moment of choice to seek an escape. We must imagine some of the intervening bad while daydreaming of the achievement of the wonderful.
Constructive choices require patience—the consequences of living better need time to blossom. Tomorrow will not be much different than today. A flower requires time to bloom, sitting and watching bores the mind, from moment to moment we see no changes. But the flower blooms--only enjoyed by those with a wider perspective, able to endure the slow process of change.