Did you ever play musical chairs as a kid?
It was an epic showdown. A bunch of kids would frantically sprint round a circle of chairs until the music stopped. At that point each kid had to find a seat to sit on. Every round would see one seat removed along with one unlucky kid who had not managed to park themselves onto a chair.
Imagine someone from another planet looking in on a scene like that. A bunch of kids running round in circles essentially wrestling for a seat on a chair. I’m not sure what they would make of it.
I’m going to drop a bomb on you. You are probably still playing this game as an adult, you just don’t know it. Now, can you imagine what someone from another planet would think of that?
Allow me to give you an example…
You wake up in the morning. You sit down at the breakfast table. You then commute to the train station sitting down. You then try your best to grab a seat on the busy commuter train. You then get to work and sit down at your desk. Lunch time arrives and you guessed it you either eat lunch sitting down at your desk or you take a seat in a cafe. Lunch is over and you take a seat at your desk for the rest of the afternoon. Then back on the train – seated, back in the car – seated. You arrive home and it’s a toss up between a seat on the couch or maybe you mix it up and sit at the table for dinner. And finally you manage to get a seat back on the couch which you spend the rest of the evening before retiring to bed.
Congratulations – you won! You managed to get a seat everywhere you went.
The whole day has been spent looking for the next opportunity for you to sit down. You have spent the day chasing a seat just like you did when you were a kid.
I’m going to excuse you. It’s natural. Our bodies from a survival standpoint want to conserve energy. It’s a survival instinct that is part of our genetic makeup. We are naturally programmed to conserve energy. It’s instinctive to take the escalator over the stairs. We did not evolve to exercise. We introduced it. Not only that but the societies in which we live are designed and constantly evolving to make us lazy. They are increasing autonomy and allowing us to conserve all the energy we need!
Do not feel guilty if you don’t want to train or exercise or move. But it is good for us, so try to make it fun, achievable, and somewhat a compulsory part of your life. Just like school is to educate our young ones or work is to pay the bills and put food on the table. You can treat exercise in the same way, as something that keeps you alive – quite literally it reduces the risk of mortality by 47%! (The American Journal of Medicine, Exercise and Health: Dose and Response, Considering Both Ends of the Curve)
Although I have used a very specific example of a typical office worker, the rules apply out with. When you drive to the shops do you seek out the closest space to the door? What about when you drive to the gym? Or when you drive to meet a friend at their house? Are you always looking for that space as close as possible to your destination? Always looking for that easy option?
If any of this is resonating with you then I want you to do one thing. Stop playing musical chairs. Shift your focus. Stay on your feet, walk a bit further, take a break from being sedentary! Your body needs it. Your mind needs it.
At the end of the day if you aren’t interested in putting your mind and body in optimal condition then you can disregard what I’m saying. But if changing your lifestyle is something you want to do then start by taking small steps like this one.
People have a belief that in order to change their diet, body composition or general lifestyle they have to make this monumental shift. They have to completely revolutionise the way they are doing things. That is wrong. Not only is it wrong it is unsustainable. Changing your lifestyle and doing so consistently takes small changes. Small changes or sacrifices or habits, whatever you want to call them. All you have to do is start somewhere, nothing major like banning chocolate or never sitting down again. But something small like maybe only chocolate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or maybe spending two nights per week going on a 30 minute walk when you arrive home from work. Or walking to the train station a few times per week. Little steps. Consistently. Overtime will lead to the biggest changes.
Next time you are heading to work, or the shops, or the gym, ask yourself the question:
‘Are you still playing musical chairs or are you a grown up?’
This small shift in perspective can have a huge impact overtime.
I want you to do one better. Maybe your mum, dad, brother, sister or friend needs to hear this. Don’t lecture them, just ask them the question,
“Are you still playing musical chairs?”
And then explain.
Remember if you don’t want to do it that doesn’t make you a bad person or a lazy person it makes you a human.
Be kind and compassionate and never beat yourself up.