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It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Let’s begin today with an exercise. You might know it’s not something I normally do here, but I think today is the perfect time to try something unexpected. Humor the process if you will. It leads somewhere I think is important for the Challenge – or any serious change.

Repeat after me.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

There’s no magic here. No ruby slippers or manifestation miracles. That said, it’s time to make this Challenge personal. (I find that major life changes tend to work better that way.) The power of an effective mantra [1] rises out of our growing identification with it. Right out of the gate, all of us can identify with this statement.

The mantra gets at a critical question: what is this Challenge about for you? What have you decided you’re done with [2]?

This can by no means be an exhaustive list, but let’s go through some examples. Maybe you know already. Maybe you’re crystal clear on what you’re ready to kick to the curb [3] regarding the state of your health and what it isn’t offering you. Maybe you have some basic goals but want to get clearer [4]. Whatever the case, see what comes up for you.

It doesn’t have to be this way….

It doesn’t have to be – that you will continue to steadily gain several pounds every year.

It doesn’t have to be – that you live without the physical vitality [5] you used to enjoy.

It doesn’t have to be – that somehow your well-being and self-investment comes last in a day [6].

It doesn’t have to be – that your cravings [7] and/or food issues undo your good intentions.

It doesn’t have to be – that you commute an hour [8] each direction for work every day.

It doesn’t have to be – that you take prescription medications (some costly) to control lifestyle diseases and chronic conditions.

It doesn’t have to be – that you deal with poor sleep [9] on a chronic basis.

It doesn’t have to be – that you forgo certain travel destinations, social activities or even personal relationships because you’re uncomfortable with your body [10].

It doesn’t have to be – that you eat fast food/junk food/sugar/alcohol [11] more often than you ever thought you would.

It doesn’t have to be – that you can’t keep up with your children, grandchildren or the activities your friends participate in because you’re out of shape.

It doesn’t have to be – that you prioritize T.V. or Internet time [12] over long walks with a partner/friend/pet/family member each evening.

It doesn’t have to be – that your body takes a continual toll from unrelenting stress [13] every day.

It doesn’t have to be – that your family’s/partner’s/social circle’s eating habits [14] sabotage your goals.

It doesn’t have to be – that you’re embarrassed to work out at the local gym because of your body’s size and/or low fitness level.

It doesn’t have to be – that you steadily watch your muscle fade with age [15] and your body fat accumulate.

It doesn’t have to be – that you can never find time to work out.

It doesn’t have to be – that you feel your daily energy and overall health just can’t bounce back from a recent (or distant past) emotional or physical crisis [16].

It doesn’t have to be – that you prioritize low cost or long-term routine over high quality and nutrition at the grocery store.

It doesn’t have to be – that you’re overwhelmed by everything you would need to do [17] or change in order to turn your health around.

It doesn’t have to be – that you can’t face the prospect of doing this alone. (You won’t need to.)

It doesn’t have to be – that the ship has sailed [18] on your health, vitality, physical appearance, or enjoyment of an active, vibrant and fulfilled life.

No, it doesn’t have to be this way.

That said, things will continue to be the way they have been until something changes. That change begins with you – today. Right now you have the option of turning it all around. You can say goodbye to this way of being. You can shift the whole trajectory of your health, weight [19], strength, fitness, aging, life balance [20], personal well-being [21].

You won’t do it all today [22]. You won’t even do it all in twenty-one days. Who you are today will change today’s business today. Who you become tomorrow will take up tomorrow’s challenges. The person you can’t even envision twenty-one days into this Primal Challenge will be doing things you never thought possible for yourself. Will you take it on faith? Will you take it on the success of thousands [23] who have come down this Primal path – and transformed their lives – before you?

Let’s do it again. Let’s commit to this simple truth together – right now.

Repeat after me….

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“This is the change I choose for my life.”

Say it throughout the day. Write it down. Put a post-it wherever it will offer a good reminder – no matter how ridiculous it seems. Psychologically speaking, there’s a certain power in changing our environment to match our intentions. That doesn’t mean writing a quote on your bathroom mirror can ever be a stand-in for the real work of making a behavioral shift [2]. (There are people who will unfortunately tell you that.) Nonetheless, changing our environment is one more way we can invest in the change now – rather than waiting until we “earn” the right to by “proving” ourselves with the end goal achievement. It’s critical to absorb our intended change into our identities [24] and our environments – today.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. I am the change right now – in this moment.”

Use it as your mantra today when facing every old pattern. Use it when making each decision that serves or doesn’t serve your health today. Use it when you need encouragement to move forward. Use it to affirm the positive choices [25] you’re making. Use it to envision the new chapter of your life – the change that – make no mistake – is already in play.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What’s the story that “doesn’t have to be this way” for you? Share your thoughts and support for fellow Challenge members and readers.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here [26].