In physics, activation energy is the initial spark to catalyze a reaction. In life, activation energy is the motivation it takes to get off the couch and DO something. Activation energy is the impetus that pops us off the path of least resistance and into a more positive use of our time.
The reason so many people become couch potatoes is not that they are lazy per se. It is simply that if we do not plan ahead, inactivity is usually the easiest option.
In the long run we enjoy active leisure (getting out, socializing, and being vigorous) more than passive leisure, such as television, surfing the ‘net, video games, eating. There is no doubt that passive leisure requires less initial effort than active leisure. In addition to the risks of social isolation and packing on the pounds, too much passive leisure can lead to psychic entropy. A feeling of listlessness, ennui, and apathy definitely can begin to feed on itself in a negative spiral.
One key to kick-starting your activity levels is to plan ahead to reduce the activation energy required to do the things you want to do and increase the activation energy required to do the things you know are bad for you.
Keep your gym clothes at the office and change before you leave. Make an appointment with a friend to meet at the track; if you don’t show, you owe $20 to your friend’s favorite charity. Freeze your credit card in a plastic jug of water. Drive home from work in a way that does not take you by the donut shop or your former favorite watering hole. Take the batteries out of your remote and hide them. Unplug the television and drop the cord in a hard to reach spot. Put a book you’ve been meaning to read on the couch (I think biographies are great). Buy only fruit and vegetables and don’t put any processed food in your refrigerator. Tell yourself you can eat all you want, you just have to put down your fork between every bite, AND take a sip of water between every bite, AND you have to eat off of a small side plate (no heaping allowed).
Every one of these behaviors is designed to make it easier to do something good for you and more difficult to do something bad for you. Stick with them long enough and they will become positive habits, invaluable allies supporting you in your quest to become the you that you always wanted to be, dreamed you could be, knew you could be.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier; 1885-1950