McDermott: Building Bubbles

Scott McDermott’s monthly column on health and wellness

Given that I have a young son, you might think I am talking about dish soap and water, but I am in fact, not. I live in a bubble. We all do. My bubble consists of my house, my friends, my work, my town, the places I go to, the things we do for leisure, the movies we watch and don’t watch. We spend our lives creating our bubble either unconsciously, or on purpose. Each decision reinforces our bubble and makes it more our own.

My self created bubble revolves around fitness and health. I hang around fit and healthy people. I eat at healthy restaurants, and buy healthy groceries. I never go to liquor stores or places that sell cigarettes. I do not watch disturbing horror movies that give me nightmares, I do not watch the news (often the same thing). My Facebook friends are those that have or appreciate similar bubble features. If I end up with a friend on Facebook that has drastically different bubble preferences and they continuously post things that make me upset or ugly inside, I unfollow or unfriend them.

I protect my bubble. Most of my family is in my bubble, but much of it is not. I have a lot of family that I have very few things in common with, and of course at family gatherings, things are nice and friendly, but with such a bubble mis-match, the time is short.

I love my family, don’t get me wrong, we just have different bubbles. My life makes no sense to them, just as theirs makes no sense to me. Nothing wrong with any of that, it is just how things are.

Sometimes the bubble we have created is not serving us, or making us happy. It could be that there are elements in your bubble that need to leave, like that toxic Facebook personality. Perhaps you built a bubble unconsciously, and are now looking around at your bubble wondering how or why you got here.

Rebuilding your bubble is not all that complicated, but it is hard.

Let’s say that you are overweight and miserable about your health. Let’s imagine your bubble consists of weekly trips to the bar to eat wings and drink beer and hang around with overweight friends. Further, your bubble includes a fridge and pantry full of junk food, sweets, treats and empty calories. Your bubble includes regular trips to fast food restaurants with a frequency such that the staff know you and your order by heart. This bubble does not include the gym, daily walks, or any real activity. The current bubble involves medication to deal with pain, sleep issues and coffee to deal with low energy.

Step one in changing your bubble is to begin designing the new one from scratch and there are many ways to do this. The easiest way with the example above, is to join a pre-made program at the gym that has all of the bubble pieces laid out and clearly listed. There are many things that happen automatically when you do it this way: Most programs will ask you to avoid alcohol and junk food for a period of time. That is one problem already handled.

The new program will have you empty your fridge and go shopping, teaching you what to buy and what to avoid. Exercise will be prescribed and the time for TV will fade as you replace those hours with other things like workouts, walks or meal prep. Sleep and health issues will often resolve themselves as medication becomes no longer required.

Pretty easy to see how joining a pre-designed bubble is a real short cut to your goal in this case. Hundreds of things will change that you weren’t even aware of by simply shifting what you consistently do with your life.

The other way to change bubbles is to identify what bubble you are unhappy with (health and fitness as above, or friends, work, where you live, etc). Decide what it is you want instead, and then write a list of all the things that you think exist in your current bubble that do not serve those goals. It is pretty easy to do research on goal bubbles, just seek out people that do the things you wish to do, or live the way you would like to. Books, documentary movies, all have examples of other bubbles you can emulate.

I feel it is important to say that your bubble either serves you or not. It isn’t necessarily good or bad, but it is fully changeable, and it is important to respect other people’s bubbles. It’s not about judgement of other people’s bubbles, just an analysis of our own, and a decision to stay as we are, or change.

Happy Training!

Scott

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