“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
- Les Brown
Murderers use the same excuse to explain their criminal actions as the average person uses to explain everyday behavior, especially non-compliance with healthy lifestyle behaviors. Beware using how you “feel” to direct your patterns of thought and behavior.
Crime documentaries are fascinating and disturbing, mostly because when serial offenders are asked why they committed reprehensible acts, their responses amount to little more than “I felt like it.” When you reference FBI profiles on the worst of the diabolical worst, you find they’re pretty average people, blending into their communities and neighborhoods by virtue of how unremarkable they are. They’re generally well-liked, even popular, and not imposing, and not intimidating. In fact, the statistics show their IQs are just below average and the median IQ of serial killers is so low it stands just above functional: http://maamodt.asp.radford.edu/…/Serial%20Killer%20Statisti…
Obviously, deviants are conducting themselves in a manner so far outside of societal norms that we uniformly condemn their actions and imprison them. However, their reasons are average. Their actions are abhorrent. But their impetus is quite normal.
The reason I bring this up is that most people’s excuses concerning exercise, diet, and lifestyle don’t rise above the excuses which the worst of humanity use for their heinous crimes. Sure. When you or I don’t “feel like” getting out of bed early and doing cardio (or fill in the blank with any activity which may or may not occur based on your transient feelings), the repercussions don’t include immediate destruction of other people’s lives. It’s not an overt moral equivalent. I’m not saying it is. But if our decisions toward action and inaction are just average “feel like it” sentiments, do we really have any moral high ground to criticize anyone? Are we living according to purpose or according to the same low-life reactivity others use when they act in ways we don’t like? Are we maybe, more often than not, aiming too low and hitting?
Pick whatever issue just burns you up. The person whose political beliefs you don’t like is just expressing what she “feels like.” The person whose bigotry you can’t stand is just doing what he “feels like.” The “soyboy feminazi” you vilify is just doing what they “feel like.” Everyone is acting by virtue of “feels like” a lot of the time. All the time we choose thought patterns and behaviors which aren’t productive and are often even contrary to what we know is good or beneficial, simply because of yielding to “feel like it.”
“Feel like it” is the lowest standard of pretext. I don’t disagree that consequences are varied. My point is simply that “feel like it” doesn’t cut the mustard for reasons to do or not to do something. “Feel like it” is vacuous, wavering, and philosophically bankrupt.
There is this opposite way to live: doing what you DON’T feel like doing. Some people call it purpose, integrity, discipline. It’s a valuable skill which we all execute for some activities, but not most. Why not most?
Why not behave based on solid reasoning for most of our behaviors? Or, once we’ve acknowledged that we are most often motivated by “feels like,” why wouldn’t we place the emphasis on how to “feel like” doing the RIGHT thing?
No one has the answer. This is just observational. In behavioral psychology, researchers have determined that a lot of that “feels like” propensity is driven by our made-up narratives about who we are. Once people choose a label for themselves, they’re more tightly shackled to specific “feels like” outcomes. That is, if I define myself as a night owl, I must behave accordingly. It’s not just that “early morning” is “hard,” it’s that it’s at odds with WHO I am. Therefore, I don’t feel like it. The readiness to label ourselves and others amplifies this worst-of-us proclivity.
So I’d challenge the reader with an experiment: reevaluate your labels and narratives. In doing so, you may discover that “feels like” doesn’t enslave you quite as much. It doesn’t force you toward behaviors you would ultimately rather not do. It doesn’t dictate that you must be in a state of inaction when you have philosophically determined action to be more prudent.
The political schisms we see every day afford us obvious examples of counterproductive labeling. The purposely pejorative terms “conservatards” and “libtards” are both misleading/counterproductive AND accurate terms. They’re incredibly misleading for all involved, because it enslaves us to reinforce positions, interpreting input in a way which will substantiate our label and the label of our stated opposition. They’re accurate terms in that people pick a “side” and, surprise surprise, they end up on the same side no matter what new information or argument is made available. It doesn’t “feel” right to evolve ones thoughts, as if it is a betrayal of WHO you are.
But what if “who you are” is unfixed? Then you don’t have to align your behavior with identity. You can “feel like” something or nothing. You are free to think and act from a place of purpose, new belief, and reason, instead of a place which seeks to reinforce some old and made-up identity. I am free on Monday to think a radical progressive thought and on Tuesday to think a highly conservative thought. I am free to criticize or defend the same famous person based on different information in different weeks. I am free to act like an early bird one day and a night owl the next week. I don’t have to align my thoughts or behaviors based on “feel like” or identities. I can be whoever whenever. I’m a slave to no label.
Think of the power you might wield if often, instead of occasionally, you followed-through ESPECIALLY when you didn’t feel like it. Think of the breakthroughs which could come as you shed “feel like” from your excuses. Think of the success to be had if you aim too high and just miss, instead of aiming too low only to hit.