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Does Thinking Make it So?

A central thesis in The Cherry Pie Paradox is that when you think of yourself as “someone with a weight problem,” you behave that way (trying diets, worrying about what you eat, not liking the body you have, judging yourself harshly, etc etc) and the result is that the problem persists. Once I realized that I had the power to change how I viewed myself, I began eating differently. Long story short, I lost that extra weight and haven’t worried about it for forty years.

Fast forward to yesterday. At a friend’s suggestion, I took the Clifton Strengths Finder test, which consists of rating 177 paired choices in an intriguing way to determine your best attributes so you can focus on using them fully. For $49.99 you get all 34 strength areas, ranked in order from strongest to weakest. No surprise: right in the fop five were my hunger for learning, making sense of things and sharing it. Rather than basking in my strengths, my eye went right to the bottom of the list. #34 Discipline. I chide myself almost daily for lack of discipline—like being more consistent with yoga, walking, meditation, drinking water. What the hell, Joy! So much negative self-talk!

[One of Kim Murton's fantastic illustrations from my book]

Separating the facts from the story I tell myself:

I kept my butt in the chair for three years and three drafts to get my book right. I’ve been writing a newsletter every single week for almost two years. I keep my home clean and organized. Why do I give so much attention to the days I didn’t meditate or all the time I lost to the news and social media? Furthermore… this strengths test depends on my judgments at the moment of taking it. If I took it after a day of wasting time (yesterday), it would be colored by my judgment that I lack discipline. On another day I might have an entirely different attitude and hence answer differently.

Could I flip my attitude about Discipline the way I did about my weight? Could I focus instead on all the ways I am in fact disciplined. And do more of that?

Sodden thought: If I took the test again after a super disciplined day, #34 Discipline might move up ten places to #24, but some equally daunting shortcoming would drop into #34 for me to obsess about in its place.

I share this thought sequence with you because I bet you have an area where you feel you just don’t measure up (to your own high standards).

Could you flip that and begin instead to notice all the ways you DO in fact measure up? In so doing, you begin to create new, more positive neural pathways in your brain.


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