Dear Fabulous Traveler,
Over the last week, you’ve diligently set about cultivating the persistence and power you need to bring down the walls that erect themselves around you. These walls will continue to return, and you will be faced with deciding how to tackle them, weaken their foundations, and bring them crashing to the ground.
But each time you do so, there will be a different voice that calls to you, inviting you to take what appears to be an easier path. On days when you are tired, when you feel your strength faltering, what is to stop you from taking it?
The child and the sage
Our existence is marred by constant ambivalence. We swing back and forth between the impulses that we want to act on and what our sense of responsibility tells us to do.
On one hand, there is the promise of a better future, a tranquil mind and deep satisfaction within ourselves, on the other, instant gratification, fleeting pleasure, followed by bitter regret.
Inside each of us, two beings vie for our mind and dictate our actions: A spoiled child, unable to resist any indulgences. And a wise, thoughtful, and rational sage, wishing what is best for our future, who rewards us for work done well, promising big incentives to the little one if it follows his advice.
When a desire arises within us, it takes us by surprise and we run towards its accomplishment. Then, without even realizing what happens, we leave all theories of free will behind and remain in a sleepy state of automatic action… a voice from the core of our being tries to interrupt, but we easily suffocate it because we are so absorbed and caught up in what we are doing or saying.
Painful regret begins to accumulate, haunting us in our thoughts throughout the day, and finally, we decide to get down to do the work. We start only when the pressure has become too much to bear, or when our future and career are at risk. We employ titanic efforts to finish up on time. When we make it, we tell ourselves that it’s in our nature to leave things to the last moment and that it’s meant to happen like this anyway, priding ourselves as original and rebellious. If we don’t make it, we see the mistake and promise ourselves to change.
You have been invited to an evening event that is important for your future career, but are intimidated by the guests present. The wise human inside you is excited and happy to go: “What an unexpected opportunity! Maybe you will have the defining encounter you have been waiting for a long time!”
For now, the child inside you is not acting yet, it’s malicious and cunning, waiting for the last moment. Just before you leave the house, it tells you that it would be good to rest a moment. You sit down in an armchair and despite your vigilance, sleep overwhelms you. When you wake up, you try to convince yourself that it is already too late to leave.
In the morning, you feel a little under the weather, and the child inside you chimes in: “You are sick! Take a rest.” In that moment, you enter a special, addictive state of mind, the mindset of a sufferer. Being sick, you permit yourself any indulgences and do not need to put any pressure on yourself. You try to forget yourself by sleeping or watching TV, forgetting that you might be able to go through your day perfectly normal except for that belief you have instilled in yourself: That a sick person needs to stay in bed.
Let’s assume you have a meeting in an hour, and decide to get there early, having made the resolution that you want to be a punctual person. But the child inside you reminds you that the meeting is only 15 minutes away from your current location, and convinces you that it’s enough to leave 15 minutes early. It persuades you that you live in a perfect, orderly world where everything goes as planned. When it’s time to leave, the child encourages you to check your email one last time, to scroll your social media for just a moment, and minutes pass you by until suddenly you check the time and realize you’re running late. You rush to the public transport and start making apologies towards the person you have kept waiting.
During an intense exercise session, the child inside tells you that you’ve suffered enough and that it’s time to rest. It makes you believe that your body has already reached its limits. The wise man, however, is trying to tell you that your willpower is limitless, that you can always take another breath and keep going. If you accepted to suffer a few moments, you would come to exceed your limitations and what seemed painful today would just be a small, imperceptible niggle tomorrow. But you’re not listening, so you take a rest and complain about how you have been short on energy recently.
You are sitting at your desk, ready to start an important but boring project. Eventually, you decide to quiet your mind and devote two hours of solid work to it. For a moment, you are soothed and content with your responsible decision. The child inside congratulates you, but then suggests drinking a glass of water before starting this arduous task. The old man objects, but you give in. Once you have your glass of water, the child suggests that it would be a good idea to look at your email or watch TV, just for a few minutes - “You deserve that much!” The technology takes care of the rest… you enter a different world, lose track of time and the hours slip by unnoticed.
The daily face-off
The child manages to create the most outlandish excuses, presenting them to you as the most intelligent of reasons. It’s a cunning, irrational being that mostly responds to instant gratification. It leads you to ignore the sage who has been trying to convince you from the beginning.
The sage agrees to be punctual, to do the work on time, to put aside instant, easy pleasures in favor of lasting rewards, leading us from our daily comforts to an experience of true sensual pleasure we can only feel after passing a difficult trial. The wise man represents your willpower, the child your frantic impulses.
Recent research conducted by Roy Baumeister at the University of Florida found that our will power can be compared to a muscle. Like a muscle, it atrophies if it’s not put to the test often, for example if we fall prey to a routine of comfort and idleness. Like a muscle, you will lose its strength if you don’t call on it frequently.
Other studies have shown that even simple physical exercises, which require discipline and willpower, lead people to reduce their consumption of tobacco, caffeine, and impulsive spending.
It’s up to you to choose the character you give in to more often: The spoiled child or the thoughtful sage? Making this simple choice helps your favored character gain the upper hand, making it the one that dominates your personality.
This Week’s Plan
Which character will you give in to more often Fabulous Traveler? Three mornings this week, you’ll find a quiet space to do the Child and the Sage Make Me Fabulous meditation. This will be added to your morning routine when you hit Accept below!
How should I meditate?
In the meditation section of the Make me Fabulous button, you’ll see the new meditation trainings that we’ve added. You can start there. But if you want to take a quick peek of what the Child and the Sage meditation has to offer right now, tap below to start!
You may not have realized this yet, but you have been cultivating and ingraining within yourself the mental practices which shape your mind to live from a place of freedom. Day by day, you are dissolving the patterns of thinking that limit you. Continue to turn toward your inner sage Fabulous Traveler, and next week, you’ll discover the joy and possibilities of the present moment.
You have power over your mind- not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength - Marcus Aurelius