Excellent behavior should be a hobby, not a habit

I am one of those people who likes to post inspirational quotes here and there in my office. Here’s a good one by a writer I admire:

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.– J.K. Rowling

I’ve got a few more in that “go-out-there-and-just-do-it” vein, as well as several on Happiness and also a little plaque someone gave me once that’s in this kind of faux carved stone and says, “Never lose an opportunity to see anything that is beautiful.” I’m not exactly sure what that one means, but it was a gift, so it’s leaning on the little chair rail behind my printer.

I also have a funny picture of a dachshund that looks a lot  like Mick that says, “I am so glad you are home – someone pooped in the hallway!” It’s not deep, but it’s apt.

Here’s one of my favorites, which is actually an ad torn out of a magazine that I pinned to the bulletin board:  “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

That is the only inspirational message I invariably find easy to follow, since I never have any trouble convincing myself that planning yet another trip is a super-fabulous decision. On the other hand, trying to be excellent and conquer all and be positive and grab happiness and even look for beautiful things are all a bit more challenging.

Take today, for instance. Instead of making time to reflect on any of the quotes that remind me of how good it feels to pursue my goals and stay strong . . . I stopped by McDonald’s to pick up the new CBO burger for lunch. Instead of heeding to Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit,” I said, “Oh, bite me, Aristotle.”

I brought that warm, hefty little bag home, popped open a Diet Dr Pepper, and bit (instead) into a fistful of burger, cheese, bacon and grilled onions on a nutritionally-worthless white bun. I bought that sinful sandwich and ate it knowing full well that it weighed in at 700 calories, or about as much fat, carbs and sodium as my Jenny Craig diet prescribes for a week. I shared little bits with Mick and I swear I heard him growl that Aristotle and Jenny Craig BOTH could just kiss his fluffy little  ass.

Cheddar Bacon Onion Angus Heaven

Years ago, someone loaned me a series of Zig Ziglar tapes that I played in the car every morning on the way to work. I should mention, as an aside, that I am really susceptible to a good sales pitch. I dare not watch a compelling infomercial or tune in to QVC or I will load up on Quaker Factory holiday sweatshirts that are only semi-appropriate for first grade teachers plus miracle shampoos and grout cleaners and I don’t know what all. So as you can imagine, Zig really had me going for a while there. I was trying to get a business going and quit smoking and lose weight and that daily kick in the pants had me singing “I Am Woman” louder than Helen Reddy.

But who wants to listen to that shit every day for the rest of their life? Not me. I slacked off and started listening to my Bonnie Raitt and Phil Collins tapes instead, and then things didn’t work out with my (nonsmoking) love interest, so I started smoking and eating again, and well . . . . 

It’s hard to change, isn’t it? It’s hard to be “good” all the time. I knew a guy years ago at Revco who was the most positive person I ever met. At first I couldn’t stand him because all that smiling and the upbeat exclamations just seemed saccharine and phony as hell. But after a while, it became apparent that Joe was sincere. He was really that happy and that positive – ALL THE TIME. Maybe he smacked his wife around at home. I don’t know. But at work? It was like home, home on the range every day: never was heard a discouraging word.

One of my favorite goofy things he’d say was in response to anyone asking him how he was doing. With a huge grin, Joe would call out, “If I felt any better I’d have to be twins!” Of course, I would generally react by making the universal puking –stick-a-finger-down-my-throat response behind his back. But after I realized the guy was just like that all the time, I couldn’t help but like and admire him, you know?

So, yes – I am still a bitch.  I am not nor will I ever be as wise and positive as Aristotle or J.K. Rowlings or Zig Ziglar or even Joe (bless his heart, wherever he is now). But that’s okay, I think. Sometimes you just have to eat the gazillion-calorie burger or make that snarky comment and move on.

Life’s too short to try to be excellent every day.

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