June 29, 2020 | 12:12

Discrete External Events vs. Continuous Internal Changes

Take a moment to think about when the next important event in your life will be? Next week? Next month? Maybe next year?

External events have distinct, clear boundaries: project deadlines, exams, graduation, wedding, vacations, etc.

We learn this paradigm from a young age, and it is continuously being reinforced throughout life: you finalize a project -> you might get promoted or get a raise; you pass the exams -> you can advance to the next academic year of study; you go on vacation -> you relax; you graduate -> you can get a job (although you can get one without a degree as well); etc.

This observation that distinct, finite in time events can change our lifestyle holds true in many areas of our lives. But there is one area in particular where it fails terribly: events that ought to change one’s own body and mind.

What does brushing your teeth for two minutes do for you? Absolutely nothing, unless you do it every single day. —Simon Sinek

There is a substantial difference between how external events work vs. how internal events (in our body and mind) work.

Our bodies are incredibly complex, self-regulatory systems designed by Time itself (and natural selection) to sustain life over the years and to be able to function under various conditions. Yet we want to see -5kg on our scales, better-outlined muscles, or simply feel better in just a couple of days. And preferably without much effort in the process. Just think how many failed attempts of people getting in shape or losing weight do you know?

Our bodies require time to make lasting changes. Sometimes it is months, and sometimes it’s even more. Fast changes are produced only in critical situations (illnesses, injuries), which are never a positive thing for the organism. Other than that, lasting positive transformations are a long, ongoing process. You cannot discern how your today’s self is different from yesterday’s self since the changes from one day to the next are imperceptible, but they do exist, and they add up.

Discrete Vs. Continuous

Most external events have both a beginning and an end. You start a project and work until you finalize it; you start a vacation and enjoy it till the end; you start an academic year and have to pass all exams, etc.

Internal events, on the other hand, are characterized only by a beginning. You start to do something, but the end goal is a moving target. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight and you lose 5kg, that’s not the end. If you switch back to your previous eating habits, you’ll gather those kilos back. You have to change your lifestyle (eating habits, practice sport, etc.) to keep your weight at the desired figure.

Therefore, there is a starting point for internal events, and then there is continuous perseverance and consistency. Perseverance, for doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, and consistency for keeping up with the moving target of your desired goal.

So next time you think of starting to work on your body, be aware that you are embarking on a long journey that requires consistency and perseverance along its whole path.


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