Actions as an Investment

There is a space between stimulus and response in which we determine our destiny one small action at a time.

Yesterday as I was reviewing my goals and thinking about life in general, a clarification came to mind: thoughts, like money, can either accrue additional debt interest or be invested for future payouts.

by Pete Ferguson

I find it interesting that certain events can trigger memories. A song, a smell, a food, a place. And sometimes we are very happy to relive the memory. Other times memories of an action can trigger regret and remorse.

We either make tiny investments daily with good decisions – or we go into debt mentally when we make bad decisions.

Following an impulse and looking to fulfill a quick desire for passion or pleasure provides a quick high – a momentary escape from current reality. Unfortunately, however, future flashbacks to the moment seldom reenact the high – instead we are left needing to reenact the event.

Like an addict, we are left empty and can only fill our cup – which is full of holes – for a brief second before it drains out again, leaving a feeling of emptiness, regret, or remorse. And so the debt used to finance a quick moment of pleasure continues to incur indebted interest of unrest – leaving a large void of dissatisfaction.

A life full of these events leaves us bankrupt emotionally and in a state no deathbed confession can suddenly cure.

In contrast, kind deeds and following through with a goal are an investment for future happiness. In the moment of decision, there is joy for helping another, eating a healthy food, exercising, saving money, etc. Each moment in future time reflected back to that moment reenacts the feeling of joy, compounding the interest and having a cup overflowing with abundance that attracts additional abundance.

To get an additional “high” only requires reflecting on the good deed. Anything additional is even greater joy.

When it comes to fulfilling an addictive behavior, a lot of action must be exerted to try and match the previous high. Each time the stakes must be raised, more energy expended, and a larger void created for the next time you desire that feeling of emotional and physical high.

When I look at food, for example, if I am not in the right frame of mind, it takes little to no work on my end to sit at a table and eat everything in front of me. But to exercise self-control takes restraint. There is a scarcity mentality – if I don’t eat it now, I may not have the opportunity to eat it again.

Fast forward an hour after the meal. I’m feeling gross, weighed down, disgusted with myself and with very little energy to do anything but sit around some more. Depending on the level of overeating, it could be several hours before I feel back to normal physically if I’m lucky. Otherwise, I go to bed feeling sick, have a terrible night of sleep, and wake up craving more carbs and feeling worn out and dragged down. Emotionally, it may take several days of eating right and going to the gym to get back to normal.

But when I practice restraint – focus on the future instead of the moment – an hour or two after the meal I have energy. I feel good, I sleep well, and the next morning I am hungry again, but I want healthy food and I want exercise. If I do not get both, I’m a bit grumpy.  Days later on reflection, I’m still feeling good. I’m glad I didn’t overdo it.

There are five words that must be conquered to ensure a life of happiness: “If I feel like it.”

Those who are successful at a given endeavor have conquered these words. They practice whatever they are really good at regardless of whether or not they feel like it. They are focused on the future and the gain they can realize by action in the moment.

Michael Jordan became a basketball legend because he practiced before and after everyone else felt like it.

Bill Gates programmed a computer before and after everyone else his age felt like it.

Great singers and dancers, musicians and mathematicians practice before and after everyone else feels like it.

Entrepreneurs invest in their business hours before and hours after the rest of us put in our eight hours.

Tomorrow you will be faced with thousands of impulses and stimuli. What will make you reflect on today with pride, remorse, or indifference all depends on what you do in the nanoseconds between stimulus and response.

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One thought on “Actions as an Investment

  1. Pingback: Planning for Success or Failure | learnactshare

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