There’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed and eat donuts all day — these 3 lessons help me outsmart him.
I didn’t know who Anthony Bourdain was until the news of his tragic passing made it into headlines earlier this month. From what I understand, the man was a prolific worker, an impressive TV personality, and one of the world’s most influential chefs. But it wasn’t until I came across one of his quotes that I got a glimpse into Bourdain’s candid persona.
“I understand there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy.”
In a world where we can airbrush the highlight reels of our lives to appear perfect and ultra-productive, we need the honesty that Anthony Bourdain fearlessly expressed. No matter how much we discipline ourselves, no matter how many motivational talks we listen to, we can never kill that proverbial person in our head that tells us to snooze the alarm or eat the extra slice of pizza. We can only do our best to outsmart him or her.
With that being said, here are three important lessons I’ve learned:
Admit that there actually is a part of you who wants to do absolutely nothing productive.
Bourdain called it a guy. Steven Pressfield calls it the Resistance. Regardless of how you label it, awareness is half the battle. It’s impossible to escape that inertia, the temptation to say, “Fuck it, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Renouncing laziness only intensifies it. But accepting that you can’t eliminate it ironically puts you in more control than the person in denial. We all want to slack off to some degree. It’s just a matter of accepting that desire and keeping it in check.
Have a “why.”
Purpose facilitates action. It’s incredibly difficult to justify pain, discomfort, and sacrifice without having a “why,” an underlying reason for doing what you do. Waking up early, working out, and getting shit done sounds great in theory, but if there are no real consequences for abandoning those commitments, it makes it a lot easier to fall off the wagon. Make a promise to someone you love. Start a challenge with a friend. Sometimes sheer willpower isn’t always enough to keep that voice in your head at bay.
Avoid toxic people and situations.
Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Or as Goethe said 170 years earlier, “Tell me who you associate with and I will tell you who you are.” The company we keep sets the standard for what we perceive is acceptable. Laziness and indifference are as infectious as physical diseases — associating with toxic people who aren’t interested in going anywhere in life makes it seem okay to do the same. What’s more, it isn’t always people that influence our behavior. Look at your Facebook feed. Look at the games on your phone. Look at the food in your pantry. Do these enable laziness or curb it?
All of this might sound cynical. I was resentful, even guilty when I originally heard or read the lessons above. But the good news is that we can make a decision to change. “The right activities are as accessible as all the bad influences,” says Ryan Holiday. “They are as plentiful as anything else. What you decide to do with those assets is up to you. But choose wisely, because it will determine who you are.”