I just finished reading a book by Dr. Richard Wiseman called The Luck Factor (2003). He is a psychology professor in Hertfordshire, UK, who studies luck and perception. He has done some interesting psychology experiments about good luck and bad luck, and why some people may think they are lucky or unlucky. It’s an enjoyable light read, but it gives you food for thought.
One exercise he suggests is to make a numbered list of 6 things you would like to do or learn, 6 projects you’ve been meaning to take on. Then throw a die and whatever number comes up, decide to simply DO IT.
We all have ideas of projects or endeavors that we want to do or ought to do. We dither and think it would be a good thing to try or explore. We procrastinate for one reason or another. We can’t decide which to do or how to start. Maybe our current schedule or structure is too much comfort zone, so we just don’t do the needful to make the time for a new endeavor. Maybe this, maybe that, but we all have our rationales for not getting started. Perhaps we just overthink things.
The Serendipity Exercise
I thought his exercise might be interesting — to see what route serendipity might suggest I pursue. I made a list and dug around till I found a die in a Pictionary set.
The first number that came up was number 3 on the list: to try Pilates. I frowned. I wasn’t ready to do that yet (obviously, or it wouldn’t be on my list, right?) So I threw the die again. Next number came up. That task I wasn’t ready to jump into either. In all, I threw the die 6 times, and (surprisingly) turned up all the numbers 1 through 6, rather than repeat any numbers.
I numbered the list with the serendipitous order and studied it. Hmmph. I wasn’t going to let some stupid roll of a die tell me what to do. I wasn’t going to let some pop psychology book nudge me anywhere.
But it percolated in the back of my mind all day. And I’d wanted or thought I ought to try all of the things on the list — they were all perfectly plausible projects or paths. I’d been meaning to try Pilates, so what the hell? That evening, I made the call to a local Pilates studio and left a message saying I’d like to sign up for her 3 introductory private lessons for $100.
Stretching the Envelope
Thus far, I’ve had 4 sessions and will have 2 more before I join the mat class on Friday mornings. I’ve even made the commitment of buying my own yoga mat.
It’s a lot of stretching, however some of the movements are very small. You change your position more often than yoga, which bores me to death. You actively think about your vertebrae or pelvis as you are doing the movements, and I think this makes it all more effective than just mindlessly using the weight machines at a standard gym.
Pilates also effects a quiet buildup of strength in all the muscles of the back and abdomen, and I think it is doing my back a lot of good. In fact, my massage therapist said there was a noticeable strengthening of my back muscles.
The other morning I woke up and I did not have a backache. When you have had low grade backache for a long time, you just sort of assume it is what it is, forever, the new normal, old person style. But when you just get up from a night’s sleep and there is no pain, the absence reminds you of how it is supposed to be all the time. It did come back the next day, but still, it is very encouraging.
My Next Steps
I want to learn a good mat exercise routine that I can do at home anytime. I hope to make a habit of it. If, after 4 lessons plus practicing at home, my massage therapist can feel the difference in the quality of my back muscles, that’s what I call useful and effective!
Pilates also has a sort of torture machine called a “Reformer” (surely “Transformer” would be better branding…) I haven’t tried it yet, but I will in a future lesson. I know as little about it as I knew about Pilates mat work when I started, so let’s see.
Anyway, right now I’m going to go roll out my mat and do Pilates as best I can here at home. Maybe that roll of the die was the lucky kick in the pants I needed to do the needful.
Give it a try: make a list of 6 things, and toss the die and see what you might get stretched out of your comfort zone to do. It only takes a nudge.