There is some deep and valuable study about human nature in here – I’m just not quite sure what it is yet. But it is the fundamental difference between those who eat their least favorite things off the dinner plate first so they can end with the good stuff and those who eat the good stuff first and put off the things they would rather not face. I’m not going to layer in here any opinions on what constitutes the good stuff, I’m sure that is different for everyone anyway. What I am thinking about right now is just the process of how we approach those things we like less and those things we like more. Or maybe it is about those things that are harder for us and those that are easier.
Exercise machines generally give you an option for how you want to view the amount of time remaining in your workout. You can look at how much time is remaining, the count-down style if you will or how much time you have already worked, the counting up version. I prefer time elapsed, I also eat the stuff I like less first. Actually I usually eat a little of the thing I like best first, then move to the stuff I like less and then end with the good. I feel better watching what I have accomplished, seeing the progress I am making than I do with what always feels like a big number slowly trickling down.
The other features on the machine don’t interest me so much during the workout. I don’t really care about how many calories I have burned or distance I have gone except for when I get to the very end of the workout and I like the numbers to be round, it provides a sense of completeness to my moderately ocd mind. But I’m not working toward a goal apart from time and so the measure I work with is based on time: how much time have I completed, how much time do I have left. It’s the exact same amount of time no matter how I view it of course, I know that, and yet the remaining number always depresses me. I have this sense of never really accomplishing as much as I feel like I have accomplished when I look at that number. Perhaps that has something to do with general feelings of inadequacy – no matter how hard I work I always know I could have, I can work a little harder.
When I toggle the display to time elapsed I have a sense of pride in seeing what I have accomplished, how far I have come. I watch the numbers add up and feel good about how hard I am working and how much progress I am making toward my goal. I know I could look at the remaining number in the same way, focus on how much I have done rather than feeling like I have so much further to go but when I stay on that screen it takes a lot more effort to get to a positive voice in my head.
Someone I am sure can tell me what this all means, about where this comes from deep in my psyche and how it impact my everyday life. Someone, somewhere has studied this and understands something deep and profound about perspective and attitude and self-worth. When I go for a hike I like to get the uphill portion out of the way first, that’s the part that is harder for me and then I spend the second half of the walk feeling good about what I just did, not dreading what is coming next. That’s just me, I’m not afraid of the challenge really I just want to get it over with first. But then again, maybe that means I am always waiting for the next hard thing and instead I should be… or maybe I just don’t know.