Ryan: Flip the Script

Today is a glorious summer day in Maine. Brisk temperatures overnight provided a little taste of approaching autumn for our morning coffee on the porch, but quickly gave way to high seventies with bright sunny skies. Perfection.

It’s too nice a day to stay in the house, so I decided to go out for a long walk at the beautiful garden cemetery near my house then grab a few things at the grocery store on the way home. What an awesome day to be outside! I saw a few turtles sunning themselves near the pond. Have you ever really looked at a turtle? A brilliantly engineered creature, perfectly adapted to live its life.

A tiny chipmunk greeted me from a low branch. I stopped to talk to him for a minute. Have you ever chatted with a chipmunk? They don’t have too much to say, but they surely seem to listen closely.

The cemetery was bustling with life today (ironic, I know) . I spotted frogs, groundhogs, more squirrels than I could count, and an oddly prehistoric heron fishing in the pond. It’s impossible to be anything but happy when communing with nature like this. Everything seems so intricate and interconnected and exactly how it’s supposed to be.

When I headed to the grocery store, I was feeling like all was right with the world. Then the train went off the tracks.

First, I realized I forgot the bag of returnable bottles and cans at the house. Sigh. That was the whole reason I went to this particular store in the first place! Then the avocados were lousy. Some were too green and hard, and others were gray and soft. None were just right. I circled around to the dairy case for organic, whole milk for our lattes and golden milk. Completely and utterly out of stock! I had to settle for store brand, inferior milk. Better than nothing, I guess?

By the time I left the store, I wasn’t even noticing the beautiful blue skies that were so appealing to me a half hour before. My zen-like love of nature was completely forgotten when I saw a mouthy seagull using my windshield as an outhouse. Curse you, bird!

I was going in a downward spiral of annoyance and frustration, convincing myself that the day was irrevocably damaged. Might as well go home and wait this one out. Better luck tomorrow.

So often we put such heavy expectations on every situation. In an irrational pursuit of some kind of unattainable perfection, we let little things that don’t matter negate the truly awesome things that do.

How many times did I give up on my health and eat a whole package of cookies because I ate just one? How many times did I work out once then abandon it because it wasn’t easy? How many stories have I started to write then deleted when the going got a little rough?

Nope. Time to flip the script.

Intermittent fasting has really helped me get better at focusing on what really matters. Process and practice are the goal. Perfection is a pointless waste of time. I maintain a clean fast every day. I like to eat good food in my window, but sometimes life has different plans and I go with the flow and eat what’s available or what’s fun, depending on the situation. And you know what? It’s ok. I don’t need to throw it all away and start over tomorrow.

I’m still working on flipping the script in other areas of my life, but IF has given me the space to challenge a lot of negative thought patterns that don’t serve me. I’m learning to let the small annoyances and irrelevant details fade into the background and put my focus on the larger, happier picture.

I’m certain that little chipmunk did not waste a moment thinking about the goofy human who invaded his space and talked at him this morning. It didn’t ruin his day. He didn’t spend one second wondering if he was rude or awkward or failing to meet his goals. When I glanced over his shoulder to get one more quick look at him, he was right back to his business, nibbling and gathering seeds, living completely in the moment.

Challenges, disappointments and tragedies are an inevitable part of life, but how we perceive them is not set in stone. Me? I’m choosing to flip the script.

The whole story of our personal transformation is in our new book, Unbelievable Freedom: How Intermittent Fasting Transformed Our Health and Happiness, available on Amazon using the link below.