A famous person once said that stupidity/insanity/madness was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (some say it was Einstein but that’s disputed).
I look back on my decades and ask: How many times have I fluffed something up and then the next time around gone ahead and done exactly the same thing and fluffed it again. A rhetorical question that makes me guilty of at least one of the three possible qualities mentioned.
In a classic episode of Seinfeld, George realises that life didn’t work out the way he would have liked. George was was always fluffing things up saying “..it all became very clear to me that every decision my entire life has been wrong”. Jerry points out that “…if every instinct you have is wrong then the opposite would have to be right”. Desperate George decides to change and consciously does the opposite to what he would normally do and his life is turned around. Successful George is born.
There is a bit of George in us all. If things are not working in a certain area of your life — give the opposite a go. If you are a clean freak and you are driving people nuts then let the house go to squalor for a week or a month. If you are messy then be a tidy person for an extended period.
If you talk too much, dumping your stuff on people — listen more. If you’re too meek and apologetic for everything — assert yourself. If you drink and you’re unsure about what alcohol does for your health — stop and see how your body feels. If you rush from place to place — slow down and focus on what is going on around you; right here, right now.
Doing the ‘opposite’ can be very useful as if done in a conscious, measured way it allows us to step back and truly see how patterns of behaviour hold us back or cause us anxiety.
It may be that giving up alcohol in the evening is not actually doing you any good — for example you may not feel as relaxed. But the process of abstinence brought about the realisation that you don’t have to give it up entirely but simply consume less.
For many of us it can be difficult to change behaviour without time frames. So let’s say you are stressed through lack of time to do the things you need to do on any given day. Time out to meditate each day would be an ‘opposite’ thing to do. Without locking in a time of day, length of meditation and number of days; the energy of that intention can easily dissipate.
But if one sets a goal to meditate for say 20 minutes each day at 6am for 33 days, then that is something the mind can get a firm hold on and I believe has more chance of success.
These are simple things that we all know but sometimes it’s the simplicity that eludes us because often we don’t see them as being important or they don’t noticeably point to ways where we can improve our lot in life.