I’ve always been a runner, but after having Cora, I threw myself into more overall fitness – thanks to a workplace that emphasizes health and conveniently has a gym and class schedule. For the past couple years, I’ve been in that gym swinging kettle bells, burpee-ing, doing squats, tossing wall balls and jumping rope. In fact, I even coach a class now.
The thing is, I kind of suck at squats. Half the time I’m either too far forward on my toes, too high, too narrow, too off-balance for no apparent reason. I blame it on my crooked spine (scoliosis, my old friend) and the fact that my heels and hamstrings are abnormally tight from all the running, but neither are an excuse to not improve. So every time I do a squat I think: form, form, form.
A tiny correction here, more awareness there and I’m on my way to a perfect squat. I usually get there eventually, about the time the workout is over *rolls eyes*.
Tweaking my squat form (and my kettle bell form, burpee form, wall ball form, and every other form, if we’re being honest), isn’t that far removed from how I feel character building and maturity work. You don’t wake up one morning less of a gossip or turn another year older suddenly more generous. Character improvement comes with tiny changes over time. Constant reminders to yourself to be in better form.
A small decision to overlook an insult. A choice to text someone encouragement. Letting go of a grudge. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Sticking to better habits day after day. These are how we correct our character form little by little. Day by day, week by week, month by month.
Speaking of giving others the benefit of the doubt – that’s something I’ve been tweaking and taking tiny steps toward a lot over the past couple years. Looking back, it seems almost silly, but I used to assume someone had the worst of intentions if they didn’t act the way I thought they should toward me or a loved one. Maybe I felt overlooked, under appreciated, misjudged or disrespected. In my mind, this was most certainly because the other party disliked me, didn’t care to know me, was uncomfortable around me or just had it out for me or my family. You’ll notice there’s a lot of me in that kind of thinking.
What I’ve come to realize is no, hardly anyone in my life has actually felt that way. They’re not out to make life more difficult for me or put me in my place. There are all kinds of reasons people do what they do, and very little of the time it’s because they’re intentionally trying to be mean or cruel or unfair. Usually, they’re just hurt or misinformed or unaware or inexperienced or trying to keep their own head above water.
When I change my thinking from “they just did that because they hate me” to “they probably have a good reason, and that reason has nothing to do with me”, I can easily let it go and continue to enjoy that relationship. And, about 99% of the time I find out later that person actually was going through something or struggling to make a decision or reacting out of a much larger circumstance than simply protecting my feelings.
Benefit of the doubt – better form with tiny thought changes over time.
I’d love to hear an area you’re working on your form in (comment below). How have tiny tweaks and daily choices helped you mature and improve your character?