A HAPPINESS QUESTION
A HAPPINESS QUESTION:
What Should We Do If We Feel Like We’ve Fallen
Behind Or Fallen Off The Wagon?
BY GRETCHEN RUBIN
NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR
hen we're trying to
make our lives happier,
productive, or more
creative, we often find
ourselves in a frustrating situation: we fall
behind, or we fall off the wagon. A woman told me, "I felt so bad about
breaking my diet that I ate three orders of
french fries." This is the cruel poetic justice
of bad habits.
What to do? Here are some useful points to
consider: If you're pretty good most days, don't get
too upset if you don't have a perfect record.
Don't let yourself start to think, "Gosh, I
haven't exercised in 10 days, what's the
point of starting now?" Sure, you wish
you'd exercised those 10 days, but if you get
back in the habit, those lost days aren't a
very big deal.
1. DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP
Although some people assume that strong
feelings of guilt or shame act as safeguards
to help people stick to good habits, the
opposite is true. People who feel less
guilt and who show compassion toward
themselves in the face of failure are better
able to regain self-control, while people
who feel deeply guilty and full of self-blame
Often, when we feel bad about breaking
a good habit, we try to make ourselves
feel better by...indulging in the bad habit!
2. REMEMBER THAT WHAT YOU DO
MOST DAYS MATTERS MORE THAN
WHAT YOU ONCE IN A WHILE
And fail small, not big. Once a good
behavior is broken, we sometimes act
as though it doesn’t matter whether it’s
broken by a little or a lot. “I didn’t do any
work this morning, so what the heck, I’ll
take the rest of the week off and start on
Monday.” “I missed my yoga class over
spring break, so what the heck, I’ll start
again in the fall.” Pick yourself back up
3. A STUMBLE MAY PREVENT A FALL
If you've fallen behind or fallen off the
wagon, remind yourself of the valuable
proverb: "A stumble may prevent a fall."
Sure, you've gone through a rough patch,
but you can use this experience to learn
more about yourself and your challenges.
Maybe you fell behind while traveling, or
when you had family visiting, or when you
were in a tough stretch at work. How can
you use this experience to set yourself up
for more success in the future?
Let's say you were eating very healthfully,
then you spent a weekend to a hotel where
you ate too much of the wrong food at
the all-you-can-eat buffets. So now you've
learned, "I shouldn't pick the buffet option.
I should order off the menu. That way, I'll
know exactly what food I'll get, in a set
portion." Studies show that we tend to eat
more when faced with a bigger variety, and