Without Beginnings

All beneath heaven knows beauty is beauty
only because there’s ugliness,
and knows good is good
only because there’s evil.

Being and nonbeing give birth to one another,
difficult and easy complete one another,
long and short measure one another,
high and low fill one another,
music and noise harmonize one another,
before and after follow one another:

that’s why a sage abides in the realm of nothing’s own doing
living out that wordless teaching.
The ten thousand things arise without beginnings there,
abide without waiting there,
come to perfection without dwelling there.

Without dwelling there: that’s the one way
you’ll never lose it.

“Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu

Something that I’ve recently been looking at in a class I’m taking is how I neglect various areas of my health in striving to be successful.

I mean, it’s not a conscious thought or an active conversation that I have with myself. For me, I don’t usually think about success directly.

But successful often refers to a state of having accomplished something. Similarly, the way I think about success is feelings like you’re worthy of belonging somewhere.

And I think this is how it often plays out for me.

There will always be an endless list of things I want to get done. Whether it be tasks at work, chores at home, personal goals, or a plethora of other things, there is always something to do.

And I need to make sure I’m progressing on these things. If I don’t, then I’m not hardworking, or reliable, or productive, or etc. And if I feel like I’m not those things, then I feel like I’m not worthy of belonging.

So I often skip out on self-care related things like sleep, exercise, and eating healthy. Because it feels like that’s the price that needs to be paid to be worthy of belonging. (Surprise! It’s not.)

So to get myself out of the anxiety of needing to do all the things, I’m going to do more things.

Starting a couple days ago, I’ve started ensuring that each day I drink an adequate amount of water. I’m aiming for 6 litres (which is what I usually drink when I’m dieting). I haven’t been able to get that high yet (5.3 L on Saturday, and 4 L on Sunday), but it’s much improvement over before I started focusing on this again (I was drinking less than 2 L per day).

I also started ensuring that I’m spending at least 8 hours of screen-free time in bed each night. This one I’ve managed to do successfully each night so far, but it doesn’t feel like it’s helping me sleep better yet. Plus during those periods when I can’t sleep, the night feels longer because I’m forcing myself to just lay down instead of reading a book or checking my emails. But I’m going to try this for a while and then look at my sleep-tracking data to see if anything shows up that I’m not consciously aware of.

Finally, starting today I’m planning on returning to the gym each day. Yesterday, I picked up a gym membership at the local community centre. So looking to begin this one today.

At first it seemed counterintuitive that doing more things would solve problems associated with having too much to do. But now that I feel like I’m back in action, being proactive, and taking care of myself, I find that my mind can focus on other things more often.

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