Typically, when we think of the color grey a dull or uninteresting image comes to our minds. Or perhaps we think of it as the opposite of a lively and colorful scene. But today I am going to make the case that we should live our lives in the grey. By that I mean, in-between the black and white.
Black and white, also known as all-or-nothing, thinking is when we think in extremes. You think you are either a success or a failure. Your performance was totally good or totally bad. If you are not perfect, then you are a failure. And this type of thinking can cause us a lot of problems:
- You begin to judge yourself and others harshly.
- You will overlook small gains and accomplishments.
- You may think something is a waste time if it can’t be done perfectly.
Let’s take a look at of how this might play out using exercise as an example. If you are relying on black and white thinking you won’t have any self-compassion meaning if you have a bad workout, you’ll beat yourself up mercilessly lowering your confidence and self-esteem. You won’t allow yourself rest days or days completely off from the gym resulting in over-exhaustion and decreased performance. You think that accomplishment in the gym means suffering as much as possible instead of actually enjoying being physically active.
Now, how might this look if we were to live life in the grey? First, you will be consistent yet compassionate with regards to your exercise. This means that you are disciplined and exercise regularly but allow yourself to have an off-day. You will also enjoy the process much more since you are focusing less on the outcome. You can begin to love moving your body and appreciating small improvements. This will all lead to an improved quality of life and an overall increase in happiness.
As you can see, living life in the grey can be a bright and vibrant way to live a healthy life.
So, how can we start to live life in the grey? Follow these two steps:
1) Gain awareness
2) Take action.
First, start to notice when you are engaging in black and white thinking. Just notice at first. Recognize when your mind thinks in extremes. Next, start to choose a grey thought. If you think to yourself, “If I am not following my plan perfectly then I’m a failure” then ask yourself “How can I choose a grey thought that will be more helpful?” This might be a thought like “I will work hard to be consistent and be compassionate with myself if I should slip.”
This is how you can live life in the grey!