Why We Do What We Do (or How To Be Present)
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary.
Posted by Ryan Neal
Why We Do What We Do (or How To Be Present)
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal

Have you ever stopped to think why we do the things we do?

Why do we wake up at a certain time every morning?

Why do we go to bed at a certain time?

Why do we have to watch a certain TV show?

Why do we eat what we eat?

Why do we drink what we drink?

I've been thinking about it a lot lately because of being socially unacceptable and quitting the beast.

A little while after I stopped drinking I went out to karaoke. If you're anything like me, or most people for that matter, you can't sing exceptionally well. :)

To get up in front of people and not sing well isn't an easy task. So a few beers to "calm the nerves" is industry standard in these cases.

I hate the industry. And I don't like their standards.

I didn't fully realize how influenced I was in social situations until I couldn't fall back on that crutch.

This particular karaoke night, because of The Iron Mind, it was a breeze. I got up on stage, did Stray Cat Strut by the Stray Cats, and it was all good. I was nervous and didn't have any stage presence, but that's OK.

(Remind me to post the video of me absolutely bombing on Jump by Kris Kross at karaoke in Sydney.)

A lot of our damaging actions are the result of following the crowd.

I was probably the lone participant to get on stage without liquid courage and that made me happy.

Being Present

It's not always particularly easy to take control in these situations. But you can begin by being present. That is, be conscious of why you're doing what you're doing.

A trap a lot of us get caught in is sitting down to watch TV because "there's nothing else to do." Nothing's on so we flip through the channels. It's basically sleeping with our eyes open and our fingers moving. If that's the goal, cool. But if not, why not actively decide to do something productive?

That something productive can be anything. Personally, I feel most productive when I do something that absolutely enthralls me to the core.

The very reason I canceled cable TV in 2006 was because when I felt I had nothing to do I'd sit on the couch, turn on the TV, and burn through an hour or two (or more!) without even realizing it.

When I stopped to think about it I came to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing on TV that enriched my life in any way.

- The news is absolutely useless.

- I'd rather visit a place than watch it on Discovery Channel.

- I'd rather cook food myself than watch shows about cooking food.

I called up Brighthouse Networks, canceled my cable, and haven't missed it since.

My wallet's pretty happy with the extra $80/month that magically appeared. $80/month x 12 months = $960! That's a plane ticket to almost anywhere. :)

These days I have a standing goal of writing at least 1,000 words/day. All of my articles start from these 1,000+ words.

But sometimes I just don't feel like writing.

I'd rather watch YouTube videos or something that takes no actual brain function. Can you relate?

Not there isn't a time and place for being unproductive (there is), but if there's work to be done there's work to be done!

Instead of wasting time on YouTube I actively decide to write...anything. I usually have quite a few topic ideas saved. If I don't have any coherent thoughts on those ideas I'll open a blank document and write about whatever comes to mind.

It usually starts horribly, but after a few minutes of painful stressing and straining the words start flowing, I start enjoying myself, 2 hours fly by and I have 1,753 words written.

The first few hundred words will probably have to be deleted, but if I didn't have those incoherent ramblings I'd never have a finished article.

It would be a lot easier to watch YouTube than have to write useless drivel. It also wouldn't lead to anything I could be proud of.

Even if I never release the article to the public I can be proud of the fact that I took control and did something productive.

3 Simple Steps To Take Control and Be Present:

1) Pay attention to when you're going through the motions and why you're going through those motions. It will take some practice to actually catch yourself going through the motions.

2) Think about if going through that motion is what you want to do. Do you have a compelling reason to do what you're doing?

3) If you have a compelling reason keep at it. You're on the right track. If you don't have a compelling reason what productive activity can you do immediately that will take you away from the unproductive activity?

When you break things down to small steps it makes it easier.

Our social conditioning may influence what we do, but we can condition ourselves to do something bad ass no matter the outside forces at play.