Showing Up Even When You’re Not Feeling It

I could try to put this in my own words for you…or you could just enjoy this beautiful post from the creator of Zen Habits while I work through the sleep restriction phase of CBTI. Back to regularly scheduled programming next Saturday!

BY LEO BABAUTA

Some days, you’re just not feeling it. It’s not that you’re exhausted, it’s that you’re not in the mood to do the important task that’s in front of you.

You want to just go to distractions all day long, do anything but this thing you’re resisting.

I get it. I have these days too. And sometimes, the answer is just rest.

Other times, it’s useful to find a way to do the work anyway, because if we only do our important work when we feel like it, we might not ever get it done.

It’s useful to learn to do it even when we’re not feeling it.

But how do we do that?

The Mistaken Belief

Most of us have an expectation that we should feel in the mood to do something. We should be excited, rested, focused. And when we do it, it should be easy, comfortable, fun, pleasurable. Something like that.

That results, predictably, in running from the things that feel hard, overwhelming, uncomfortable. It means that when we’re not feeling it, we are going to run to distractions and comforts. Nothing wrong with this, but it usually creates a life we’re not happy with.

When we do the thing we don’t want to do, it is often uncomfortable or difficult. We feel like we’re forcing ourselves to do something we really don’t want to do, which can feel coercive.

No wonder we avoid it! Who wants to feel coerced?

But that comes from our belief that we should only do things when we’re feeling in the mood, and that things should be easy, comfortable and fun. That means we can never do anything hard.

What if we could open to doing hard things, and maybe even loving them?

Doing Hard Things When I’m Not Feeling It

So for me, I try to notice when I have an expectation that I be in the mood, or that the thing be easy, fun, or comfortable. Just noticing the expectation allows me to choose.

Once I’m in a place where I can choose … I can decide that actually, it’s not just “fine” that I do things that are uncomfortable when I’m not in the mood … in fact, it’s an experience I choose to practice with.

I choose to open myself to this work.

I choose to move into something challenging, difficult, uncertain, uncomfortable. Just like I choose to do a workout or go for a run, even when they’re hard.

And further … I can actually love the experience. Sure, it might not seem like it … but can you love a child when they’re being difficult? You might not love the way they’re being, but you can love them. You can love any of your friends or family when they’re difficult — the way their being might not be your favorite, but you love them anyway.

I can love writing this article, even if I’m not quite in the mood for it. I can change my experience, by being grateful that I get to write it. That I’m even alive right now! That I have so much love in my life that people want to read this.

And I can see that some tasks are a brick in the larger building that I’m putting together. One brick at a time, I’m creating a meaningful future. I can wait to be happy when the building is done … or I can love every single freaking brick. I choose to love the brick, and the laying of that brick.

Many of our most meaningful experiences are difficult. Running a marathon, giving birth to a child, creating anything important or meaningful. These are not easy experiences, and yet, they’re more meaningful because they’re not easy. Would we rob ourselves of these meaningful experiences by shying away from their difficulty?

So the training is to 1) notice the expectation that has me shying away from the work, and 2) open myself up to the meaningful experience of that work, despite its difficulty, despite my not feeling it.

There’s something beautiful that happens when you do something even when you’re not feeling it.

Uncopyright Information From Leo Babauta

“The entire zen habits blog, and all my ebooks, are uncopyrighted (since January 2008). That means I’ve put them in the public domain, and released my copyright on all these works. There is no need to email me for permission — use my content however you want! Email it, share it, reprint it with or without credit. Change it around, put in a bunch of swear words and attribute them to me. It’s OK. Attribution is appreciated but not required. I’d prefer people buy my ebooks, but if they want to share with friends, they have every right to do so.

I’m not a big fan of copyright laws, especially as they’re being applied by corporations, used to crack down on the little guys so they can continue their large profits. Copyrights are often said to protect the artist, but in most cases the artist gets very little while the corporations make most of the money. In the 4+ years I’ve done this experiment, releasing copyright has not hurt me, the creator of the content, a single bit.

I think, in most cases, the protectionism that is touted by “anti-piracy” campaigns and lawsuits and lobbying actually hurts the artist. Limiting distribution to protect profits isn’t a good thing. The lack of copyright, and blatant copying by other artists and even businesses, never hurt Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to images such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, or the Vitruvian Man. It’s never hurt Shakespeare. I doubt that it’s ever really hurt any artist (although I might just be ignorant here).

And while I’m certainly not da Vinci or Shakespeare, copyright hasn’t helped me, and uncopyright hasn’t hurt me. If someone feels like sharing my content on their blog, or in any other form for that matter, that’s a good thing for me. If someone wanted to share my ebook with 100 friends, I don’t see how that hurts me. My work is being spread to many more people than I could do myself. That’s something to celebrate, as I see it.

And if someone wants to take my work and improve upon it, as artists have been doing for centuries, I think that’s a wonderful thing. If they can take my favorite posts and make something funny or inspiring or thought-provoking or even sad … I say more power to them. The creative community only benefits from derivations and inspirations.

This isn’t a new concept, of course, and I’m freely ripping ideas off here. Which is kinda the point.

There are a number of objects that will likely be brought up to this idea, and here are a few of my responses:

1. Google rank will go down. My understanding is that Google penalizes pages that have exact duplicates on other sites, when it comes to PageRank. But in 4+ years of uncopyright, I have had no loss in PageRank. Anyway, SEO isn’t important to me.

2. You’ll lose ebook revenues. If people buy my ebook and then distribute it to 20 people, and each of those distributes it to 20 more, and those to 20 more … I’ve lost $76,000 in ebook revenues. Perhaps. That’s if you agree with the assumption that all those people would have bought the ebook if it hadn’t been freely distributed. I don’t buy that. In this example, thousands of people are reading my work (and learning about Zen Habits) who wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s good for any content creator. Also: I’ve made more money since releasing copyright, by far, than when I had copyright.

3. Who knows what people will do with your work? Someone could take my work, turn it into a piece of crap, and put my name on it. They could translate it with all kinds of errors. They could … well, they could do just about anything. But that kind of thinking stems from a mind that wants to control content … while I am of the opinion that you can’t control it, and even if you can, it’s not a good thing. What if someone takes my work and turns it into something brilliant, and becomes the next James Joyce? Or more likely, what if they take the work and extend the concepts and make it even more useful, to even more people? Release control, and see what happens. People are wonderful, creative creatures. Let’s see what they can do.

4. What if someone publishes a book with all your content and makes a million dollars off it? I hope they at least give me credit. And my deepest desire is that they give some of that money to a good cause.

5. But … they’re stealing from you! You can’t steal what is given freely. I call this sharing, not piracy.”

Blog post and uncopyright information for this post from Leo Babauta

What say you?