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Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Sometimes a Sandwich is Enough!

What motivates us?

Each year I make little promises to myself to do better or to be better. “This year is going to be different," I tell myself. Yet, at the slightest hint there may be an obstacle, no matter how small, the little voice in my head gets huge and tells me, “Let’s do this tomorrow, take it easy, because this is going to be hard work.” I have a problem with procrastination!

My most significant source of resistance is my relationship with time. I often think that there is never enough time to do something. I look at what I want to accomplish, and I think that is too hard and it will take too long.

This year I’m not making any promises to myself. Instead, I am focusing on something way more powerful: having fun. There’s sound science behind this too, according to Dr. Ron Siegel of Harvard University. (Psychology Today) Our resistance stems from the tendency to always look for what's terrible and threatening. Dr. Siegel writes that the best way to neutralize resistance feelings is to look for the hidden moments of joy. What's fun here?

I've had a significant breakthrough with my problem of resistance recently, from a surprising source: Sandwiches.

My wife, daughter, and I drove 55 miles south to the Bruckner Center in Troy, Ohio. It’s a private wildlife refuge and nature preserve with miles and miles of hiking trails. I looked forward to this opportunity to get out of the house, get outside in the sun, and do something that felt safe. That morning as we were getting ready to head out, worries and fears started creeping into my mind. What if it was too cold? What if the trails were too slippery? What if the place was closed because of COVID? What if there weren’t any toilets? Driving 55 miles might take over an hour. Maybe we should wait for a warmer day. Lucky for me, my wife and daughter ordered me into the car.

When we arrived at the Bruckner Center the sun was out for the first time in weeks. We walked almost four miles along the Stillwater River and up little ravines. There was an entire family of pileated woodpeckers, in the trees overhead, busy pounding away at trees with their enormous heads and pointy beaks. They sounded like a crew of carpenters banging away at the tree branches.

The trails were pretty dry, and the temperatures were warm enough for January. But the biggest highlight of the day was sitting on a log, near a gurgling stream and eating a chicken sandwich. I love sandwiches. These days a lot of bread and salt packs on the weight. But when I am out hiking, I can burn off those calories quickly, and so guiltlessly, I savor my sandwich.

If getting myself outside for some sunshine, fresh air, and aerobic exercise, which benefits me mentally and physically, only costs me a couple of homemade sandwiches, then I say, “This is so worth it!” Now that I’ve locked in on the sandwich thing, I am busy researching places to go to have more lunches in the woods.

I’ve started looking at some things I’ve wanted to do, but from a fresh perspective. Instead of thinking about how long stuff will take or how difficult it will be, I try to find something enjoyable about it.

Here are a couple of other things I’m doing:

  • Learning how to play the Ukulele – I love the Uke's feel and the sound it makes. Instead of focusing on how many mistakes I make, I pick up the Uke, look at it, and play a few chords for fun.

  • Learning to speak German – I am looking forward to calling my Bavarian cousin who lives in Munich. Instead of focusing on how difficult it is to learn German, I began writing sentences and imagining talking to her on the phone. I’m also imagining ordering a beer at the Hofbrau Haus in Munich.

Stop for a moment and think about something you'd like to do.

Ask: What’s stopping me? Where is my resistance?

Then ask: Is there something I love about this?

Put all of your energy here.

If you see me sitting on a log out on the trail, don’t be offended if I don’t see you because I’ll be blissfully munching on my sandwich.

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