Skip to main content

Shame Yourself Into Good Health: A lazy man learns to love getting up at 6:30 a.m.

Okay, so I'm not lazy, per se. I'm just not a morning person. If I had my way I'd go to bed at 4:00 a.m. and wake up at noon every day. This is due to some weird quirk in my body chemistry which causes my overly-neurotic brain to stay fired-up until (and actually work better) well after midnight. Then, as a result, I'm unable to budge the next morning (any morning) when the alarm goes off. I hit the snooze an average of nine times per day. Average.

And yet...somehow for the past two weeks I've started learning how to wake up before dawn to go the gym. How is this possible? I'll give you the answer in one word: shame.

U.S. society is not geared for late sleepers. There's this whole "workday" business that starts at 9 and ends sometime after 5, with nothing so civilized as a seista built into it. Furthermore, we late-sleepers take a lot of flack from the rest of the seemingly-normal, early-rising world: "Oh, you just got up??" ... "You're still asleep??" etc. So you see there's this constant build-up of shame that happens over the years.  

Then of course, if you have some self-loathing tendencies to begin with, you naturally start to hate yourself for your late-sleeping habits. I've been trying for years (decades) to break myself of the luxury of late-morning sleep, but to no avail. I've never even been able to enjoy it (okay maybe a little) for all the shame I feel at being groggy and unkempt at 10:30 a.m. whilst others have had a four hour jump on the day.

Why was I never able to break myself of this habit? My desire to get the extra two or three hours of sleep simply out-weighed the shame I knew I would feel at waking up late. However, for some odd reason, now that I'm ## years old, the shame has built up to a point that I am now able to do it.

This very morning, I lay in bed -- wide awake -- at 6:15 a.m. trying to convince myself to go back to sleep and forget about going to the gym. But somehow I was able to talk myself around to realizing that if I stayed in bed and started my day my usual time, I'd so overcome with shame (I'm talking King Priam type shame) that my day would be ruined otherwise. And then there was the moment when my arm extended involuntarily and snapped-on my light, then involuntarily tore the covers off my body, and thrust me to my feet and it was too late to protest any more.

How did this happen? Shame, my friends. It's a powerful motivator.


Popular posts from this blog

New Yorker Fiction Review: "The Apologizer" by Milan Kundera

Issue: May 4, 2015

Rating: $$

Review: It took me five years and three separate attempts to finish Milan Kundera's famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but in spite of that, quotes and insights from that book still rattle round my head on a weekly basis. What I mean to say is: my feelings on Kundera are very similar to my feelings on Haruki Murakami. I enjoy reading his work, but in small doses, like this short story.

Like Murakami, Kundera uses elements of magical realism, but where in a Murakami story you might encounter a flying dolphin or a disappearing hotel or a person who has lived his whole life in the same room, refusing to leave, Kundera's magical realism offers more direct insights and perspective on real life.

In Kundera's worlds, time and space are malleable and everything that ever happened in history is happening at the same time, and the narrator is a completely omniscient, caring, witty, and hands-on god-like being.

And so it is with "The Apo…

New Yorker Fiction Reviews: "Meet the President!" by Zadie Smith

Each week I review the short fiction from a recent issue of The New Yorker. If you told me when I was 12 that I'd be doing this I'd have been like, "Dork. There's no such thing as blogs," and I'd have been right...

Issue: Aug. 12 & 19, 2013

Story: "Meet the President!"

Author:Zadie Smith

(Please note: I've developed a highly sophisticated grading system, which I'll be using from now on.  Each story will now receive a Final Grade of either READ IT or DON'T READ it. See the bottom of the review for this story's grade...after you've read the review, natch.)

Plot: Set in England, far into the future (lets say 2113) a privileged youth of 15, named Bill Peek, encounters a few poor villagers from a small, abandoned coastal town on the southeast shore. He meets a little girl named Aggie, who is going to her sister's funeral. Peek is cut-off from real life by a sophisticated video game system that is implanted in his head, therefore th…

A Piece of Advice I Learned From My Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most learned men I know. He read widely and voraciously, and not just in the sciences (he was a doctor); he loved politics, philosophy, and great literature as well. Whenever he finished a book he would write his thoughts about the book in the front cover and then sign and date it. To this day every once in a while I will open a book from my bookshelf or my mother's bookshelf, or at one of my family members' homes, and there will be my grandfather's handwriting. He was also a great giver of his books; if you remarked that you liked a particular one or wanted to read it, you were almost sure to take it home with you.

Reading is a very solitary pursuit but my grandfather was not a solitary person. He relished having family and friends around him which is convenient because he was blessed with a lot of both. And he carried out his intellectual life in a very "public" way as well. He was, in some ways, an intellectual evangelist. If he r…