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Eat Some Mud!.

Ever tried to eat mud?  Was it a good experience?  Probably not. But assuming you were a child when you did this (I hope you were), you likely didn't give it much thought before munching away on that dollop of wet earth.  You may have been playing around in the yard when the thought hit you: this stuff looks a lot like chocolate.  You perhaps wondered if it taste like chocolate too.  Hmm, free chocolate, all you can eat too!  And your eager mind didn't waste anymore time thinking, before your little hands went to your mouth.  And from that unthinking act you hopefully learned the difference between food and, well, dirt.

As children, we were creatures of action.  We got a lot done in very few years, learned tremendously quickly, and tried out tonnes of crazy ideas.  Sadly, as we grew older we were conditioned to be thinking, rational human beings.  We were told to think before acting, or suffer the consequences - unwanted pregnancies, wrecking our car after downing one bottle too many, the pleasure of a root canal.  While the foregoing are in fact highly undesirable, thinking before we act has it's exceptions.  Sometimes thinking too much can hamper our efforts at actually getting things done.

Let's take exercise as an example.  You've decided that you should exercise.  Your doctor says you need to.  You've seen your spouse eyeing the next door neighbour with the well toned legs.  And your car sinks just a bit more each time you get in, and it's not the suspension that's the problem.  So there are many good reasons to jog, run, or better yet, get to the gym.  Next, you sit down and think through your schedule, shift around a few things to make some free hours, and mark them off on your calendar.  Finally, you play with your budget and come up with enough money for gym membership and maybe even a personal trainer.  You've thought this through, and you've come up with a working plan.  Good job!

Two weeks later, the only thing you have exercised is your cerebrum, and that's not the muscle you had in mind when you paid for your gym membership.  When the time comes to get to the gym and get on the treadmill, you start thinking yourself out of it: you had a long day at work, going to the gym will only burn out what's left of you; you have a slight pain in your leg, you don't want to aggravate it; your spouse should love you unconditionally, flabby legs and all!  What gives?

Your problem at this point isn't motivation, it's follow through.  And your thinking mind is now your enemy.  If you really want to get to the gym, you better short circuit your brain.  Yep, that's right, don't think about it, just do it!  Apart from the realization that Nike has an apt slogan, you should also see at this point that sometimes you need to stop thinking.  And this only takes a few seconds - you don't want to be out of your mind for too long, it's not healthy.  Instead of thinking, just start doing - put on those sneakers, don the sweat pants, and just start driving to the gym, walking to the park, or running your route.  In fact, in the few seconds that it takes to start dressing for the gym, you will most likely have overcome the inertia of your over-thinking mind.

Once you've done this a few times, momentum will be on your side.  Plus once you start to see the results of your effort, your ego will kick in and keep you going.  Bear in mind that while we focused on exercise, the principles apply to anything in life which calls for action: spending more time with your kids, reading more, taking up a hobby, learning a new language.  You need to stop yourself from thinking just long enough to do it.  So go ahead, eat some mud!  Don't think, just do.
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