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Letting Go of the Numbers

For someone who really hates math, I am quite attached to numbers and measuring things. I believe this is part and parcel of my perfectionist nature. Growing up, in school I was measured by grades, and I thrived on the positive attention that good marks earned me. Not that I was valedictorian, but I think high achievement becomes addicting. It can be a great motivator, but it can also be dangerous.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of thought into just how much I measure my value in numbers. It seems like there is always some number I am trying to reach. Mileage and pace. Yoga classes taught. Weight. Dollars earned. Seconds I can hold an arm balance. Heck, followers on Instagram…

So. Many. Numbers.

What do these numbers really mean? Nothing. But, as humans we like to measure things so we can understand them. I know that my identity is not wrapped up in a single one of these numbers, but it’s hard not to put stock in them in our society that is constantly hustling to be bigger and better.

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With this half marathon training cycle, I’m getting practice in letting go of the numbers. In running, it’s often believed that more miles = better running. At the outset of this build up, I had in mind a plan of how many miles per week I would run, and at what paces. Then, life threw in some speed bumps: a knee tweak, stubbornly tight muscles, and a flu (for good measure.) It didn’t take me long to realize this couldn’t be about the numbers; if it was, I would have let myself down a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I have been frustrated that things haven’t gone according to my plan, but I’m also learning that this happens often in life.

I’m learning a similar lesson about letting go when it comes to choosing the yoga classes I teach. For a while now, I have been saying yes to almost any class that comes my way, just for the sake of teaching another class. The truth is, no one is counting. So that Saturday morning class I don’t want to sub? I’m starting to give myself permission to not sub it.

In both these situations, I’ve come to this conclusion: more isn’t always merrier, quality over quantity. What is the point of running 30+ miles per week if I’m sacrificing performance? Why am I teaching yoga classes that aren’t giving me or my students energy?

True happiness isn’t something that can be determined by any of these measurements on their own. It’s felt in the moments between the numbers. Let’s live more for those moments.

Today’s post was written with the Thinking Out Loud linkup in mind.

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