Understand some of the roots of poor motivation
I was in a gym class today lifting barbells, when I looked around. You could see everyone was having a hard time of it. I attend that same class regularly, and it's common to get people who turn up a couple of times and then never come back. If you just look at the obesity epidemic, it's clear a lot of people don't get as much exercise as they should.
Why is it that so many of us humans find it so hard to get regular exercise? What is it in our nature that makes it so much effort to do what we know we should?
I think a large part of the answer lies in our heritage. We're all used to living in the modern world, but that's not the environment our bodies were designed to live in. Indeed, our lifestyles are alien to whoever or whatever built us had in mind when they did so.
Let me elaborate.
Human beings who were exactly like us have been around for about 200,000 years. For most of that time, they lived as hunters and gatherers. Sleeping under the stars and using the most basic of tools. These "cave-people" were exactly the same as us, physically and mentally. They were us, just thrown into different circumstances.
Compared to this, the time line of Ancient Egypt, Rome, and Medieval Europe are recent. The explosion of change in the last hundred years is just a blip. Even agriculture, the most basic of civilized traditions, is only about 10,000 years old.
Your body and mind were designed for very different circumstances than the ones you live in.
So what's this got to do with how difficult it is to go to the gym?
Well, if you think about it, this sort of exercise would be an insane undertaking for a hunter/gatherer. Why would any such person undertake physical work and activity that didn't directly contribute to their survival? And by directly contribute I mean with the benefits arriving this week at the latest - whether that be eating, drinking, or making a spear. Indeed, such people were forced into enough physical activity just trying to get by.
Is it any wonder that your body insists it get a rest whenever such an opportunity arises? It's expecting you to desperately need it.
You can see similar problems in other areas of life. Modern cities require us to deal with strangers daily, yet many people find this scary or stressful. But if you think back to being a tribes-person, this reaction makes perfect sense. In such an environment it would be very rare to come across strangers. And if you did, they likely presented danger. No wonder your mind finds dealing with them stressful.
When you think about the lifestyle you were designed for, compared to the lifestyle you actually live, many of the self-defeating behaviours you engage in can make more sense. You can finally understand the cause of the problem.
And as the old saying goes: a problem properly understood is a problem half-solved.
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