Battle “Do-Nothingism” With A Stew And Feel Better

Do-Nothingism Stew (Lentil Stew)
In my fight against clutter, I’ve begun with my emotions. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago when I began my Clutter Kick Campaign, CLA (Clutterers Anonymous) asserts that there are three components to cluttering: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Which brings me to last night. As you may know, I’ve been trying my darndest to make positive changes in my life. I’m trying to kick bad habits and replace them with good ones. But yesterday evening I was feeling particularly down. I was in a state where I was creeping closer and closer to tears, and really, really, really, wanted to lay on the couch and order take-out rather than cook dinner. I was dangerously close to wallowing in Do-Nothingism.

What is Do-Nothingism? It is the odious state in which you feel so bad you can’t bring yourself to enjoy or do anything – it is procrastination’s nefarious cousin. David D. Burns, M.D. wrote a very influential book that I’ve been reading this week, called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Dr. Burns and his colleague, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, are pioneers of the revolution in therapy that is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. They discovered, through much documented research, that there is an undeniable connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that you can improve your mood by improving either your thoughts or your behaviors.

Dr. Burns has worked throughout his career with severely depressed patients who can’t even bring themselves to get out of bed. In his books, he demonstrates techniques for combating this severe form of doing nothing, which tends to lead you on a downward spiral of depression. He has proven that doing nearly anything at all will undoubtedly make you feel better than not!

So, I decided to take Dr. Burn’s advice and Do Something – Anything! I went to the store and bought a few ingredients to make a stew from The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged.

Simultaneously, I examined my thoughts:

“I hate cooking.”
“Cooking is hard.”
“Life is hard.”

While chopping the potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and brussels sprouts, I marveled at how easy this was. If broken down into components, cooking is really just a series of very easy steps! Right? And, though I felt fatigued and wanted to curl up in the fetal position and eat ice cream, I couldn’t deny that the closer my stew came to being finished, the better I felt. I mean, I was still very, very tired, but now I had a delicious stew to nourish that tired body!!! Score!

In the end, I had one of the best stews I have ever made, which I will absolutely make again. In fact, I’m certain that I will make it often enough to do so without a recipe.

Now I do feel better than I would have if I’d done nothing. I feel pride that I served my husband and myself a delicious meal (and this on the night before he had to take his Step 3 Medical Licensing Exam).

And if you want to make this delicious stew, it is really easy:

  • I used four organic russet potatoes, three large organic carrots, one onion, three cloves of garlic, and eight brussels sprouts, all chopped. I sauteed these until they were tender while boiling a cup of French lentils in a separate pot.
  • Then I added a magical combination of spices:  1 teaspoon each of turmeric, cumin, ginger, and coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and a dash of cayenne.
  • Once mixed in, I added four cups of low-sodium veggie broth, sea salt, and the lentils. I let it simmer until it tasted ready to eat!

So, the next time you are feeling like wallowing in do-nothingism, remember that actions can change both your thoughts and your feelings. I believe that this observation is so incredibly life-changing, that I made this handy little diagram for you to picture when you’re feeling down. Cheers!

CBT Diagram

Really the arrows should be pointing in both directions, but hey, I've never made a diagram on the computer before.

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