We’ve all got things we don’t like.
And some things we even hate. For the most part, these are things that just don’t jive with our worldview or our tastes. A movie or a type of music, a political or social issue. A type of food or drink.
And those things are largely matters of taste—and, to be fair, if you don’t like them, stay the hell away.
Most of the time, we don’t hate doing things because of how we feel about them; we hate them because of how they make us feel about ourselves.
For example, if you made a list called “activities I “hate” and another called “things I’m bad at,” you would notice a lot of crossover.
It makes sense: we’re bad at things we dislike because we avoid them and don’t practice them—so we never get better at them.
What you don’t realize is that it’s actually the other way around. You aren’t bad at them because you avoid them; you avoid them because you’re bad at them.
If you’re bad at something, you feel badly about being bad at it. So you avoid the activity to avoid the feeing you get from being bad at it. As a result, you never get better at it. The next time you have to do that activity, you’re just as bad and if not worse, and you hate the feeling even more.
This is called a negative feedback loop. We’ve all got them, for different activities.
And for the most part, they don’t impact our lives in any meaningful way.
I’ve got a negative feedback loop with basketball: I suck at it and hate sucking at it, so I just don’t play…etc, etc, etc.
I’m sure you’ve got things like that. Maybe you hate dancing because you’re a bad dancer—outside of weddings, that’s not even going to register. Maybe you hate skiing because you’re a bad skier; doesn’t really matter, since snow covered mountains are pretty easy to avoid.
Things we should be doing, even if we “hate” them because we’re bad at them. Things we should take the time to practice, and improve at because being good at them is going to make our lives better, improve our health, or help us in other ways.
And if you practice these things long enough, you’ll stop sucking at them, and you might just stop hating them.
You know what I’m talking about.
Chances are you didn’t always LOVE working out. And just about everyone is pretty bad at it when they start out. You did it because you knew it would help you hit your goals. Along the way, you developed skills and stopped hating it because you were no longer bad at it.
In other words, you crossed the proficiency threshold.
This is the point at which you develop enough skill to detach from the negative emotion brought about by being bad at something, and objectively assess whether you actually enjoy it.
But that’s something you need to work at. ESPECIALLY if you know the activity is something you need to be doing.
And that leads me into a quick group of things I am personally working on.
Like anyone else, I have stuff that I avoid because I’m bad at it, which makes me dislike it.
Unfortunately, I have a habit of avoiding things I know are very good for me, and that I need to be doing.
I’m working on changing this, so I’m currently doing these things EVERY day.
This is the easiest and most obvious one, so I’ll start here.
Man, I suck at meditation. I’ve avoided it for years. Even though I know it’s great for concentration, creativity, happiness—all the things I need more of in my life.
And still, I avoided it. Because I hated how bad I was at it.
Something that has comforted me is the realization that EVERYONE kinda sucks at meditation. Because it’s hard. I’m probably worse than most people, but still.
I actually wrote an entire article about this, so I won’t rehash overmuch. But at somepoint, I decided that I needed the benefits more than I needed to avoid feeling stupid for being bad at it.
So I dove in.
I’ve been doing this for several months now.
And guess what? I’m STILL horrible at it. But I’m not as horrible as I used to be. And I’ve definitely seen drastic improvement in concentration and discipline.
You absolutely need to be meditating, and you can do it in just 10-15 minutes.
I know it might seem odd for someone who writes for a living to avoid writing in any capacity, but, yeah. I do.
Truly bad. It’s always been messy—I blame this on being left handed—but in addition to being unskilled, I’m now also unpracticed. I haven’t had to write much by hand since college. And that was like 15 years ago.
Predictably, by limiting my practice over 15 years at this thing I was already bad at, I’ve gotten even worse at it.
My handwriting is messy by default, but whenever I need to write something by hand, I put in a lot of effort to keep it need. This is physically exhausting (my hand cramps) and very slow.
Even writing out a birthday card can take me 10 minutes…if I want the recipient to actually be able to read it.
Writing by hand (rather than on a computer or phone) improves memory, focus, and there’s even been evidence to suggest that it helps prevent the onset of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
On top of that, I personally find that writing by hand allows me to be more freely creative, and not suffer from writer’s block.
So, this is something I really can’t avoid just because I have bad handwriting.
Which is why I’ve been doing it every single day for the past few weeks.
Here’s how I work it into my day: I take 5-10 minutes in the morning to write in my little leather-bound notebook. My goal is to keep my handwriting neat, and I’m always working to go faster the previous day.
I’m not journaling (I do that at night); I just write down a few errant thoughts, my to-do list for the day, and either a song lyric or a quote from a book or movie that’s been on my mind.
Today, I wrote this:
“There is one rule, above all, for being a man: whatever comes, face it on your feet.”
—Robert Jordan, The Great Hunt (Volume 2 of The Wheel of Time)
It’s just been in my head lately.
Over the last few weeks, my handwriting has gotten a little better and my hand is cramping less. I’m not winning any calligraphy awards, but I’m less terrible than I was.
And you know what? I hate it a lot less.
You NEED to be writing by hand. At least if you want to be creative and prevent Alzheimer’s. Just 5 minutes a day, yo. DO IT.
Okay. This is the big one.
First, let me establish this. I avoided yoga like the plague for years and years and years. Occasionally, someone would drag me to a yoga class and I would HATE it.
I was really bad at it. And everyone in the class was good. And that made me feel terrible.
And I knew I needed yoga. EVERYONE needs yoga.
I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need yoga, that it wasn’t “for me” because I get everything I needed from training with weights.
Because in addition to helping you develop strength in new ways, the aforementioned flexibility, stability, and mobility help you avoid injuries—which is the primary thing that derails people.
Yoga is also great for active recovery—which means that you can use it to help you make more progress on days between weight training if you’re trying to gain muscle. If you’re trying to lose fat, it’s a great way to burn extra calories and facilitate recovery without adding too much intensity.
The thing is, even knowing all the benefits of yoga, I could never stick with it long enough to cross the proficiency threshold. I just always sucked, and gave it up, and then avoided it for a long time.
Over and over and over.
Now, at 34 years old, I need yoga more than ever.
So, I decided to cut out the anxiety that committing to a 60-minute yoga class was giving me and start with just a few, simple 15-20 minute yoga flows that I can do at home.
ANYONE can free up 15-20 minutes a day. Even if it’s for something they “hate” — as long as it’s going to help them feel and perform better.
Even a meathead like me isn’t too busy or too inflexible or too stubborn to do a 15-minute yoga flow.
So, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
Normally, I do this before I head to the gym, OR in the middle of the day when I need a break from work and realize I’ve been sitting for way too long.
I’m not even going to tell you I don’t hate it. And I’m certainly not going to say I don’t suck at it anymore.
BUT – it’s only 15-20 minutes. And that’s not that bad. I’m feeling better, too. My joints are less achy, my lower back isn’t quite as angry at me. AND, my shoulders are looking denser and more vascular, which is sick.
Yoga will possibly change your body and your life. But, if you’re like me, you’ll still suck at it and you may never stop hating it.
But do it anyway, because you’re only entitled to one body, and once you break it you gotta deal with that.
Give it a shot today.
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