Choosing not to do something

Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

I want to argue that when presented with the idea or request to do something that sometimes it more worthwhile not to do it. Even when at first it seems worthwhile doing it.

There are cases however where a things worth can be measured in more than one way. On other words, something can be valuable in more than one way.

An example

Last year I started doing a new sport called kobudo. Kobudo is basically karate, but with weapons (sticks, swords, etcetera). The reason I started was because I had been slightly overweight for a long time and noticed that, together with age, that physical things were getting harder and harder to do. In other words my health left something to be desired.

After a year of doing this sport I noticed some definite improvements. I had more stamina and strenght. And as a result it became easier toto live my life.

During the kobudo lessons, the sensei sometimes gave us challenges to do outside of the lessons. Things like walk your kata (a predefined set of movements involving your weapon) each day for 2 weeks, or meditate under a cold shower for 5 minutes.

These challenges would serve to help us to develop our warrior mindset. To keep at it even though it is tiring and painful and hard to do so. Making you more resilient and stronger in both body and mind. And that made sense.

I hardly ever did these challenges though. The reason was that my motivation to do kobudo was not to be a warrior, but to be healthier, so I could do the other things in my life that I find far more important (painting, reading, doing philosophy, writing stuff 😉). The whole the healthy mind in a healthy body idea.

I noticed that I chose not to do things more often than other people did. Perhaps this was due to my disinterest in social pressures. For example, participating in a challenge is mostly fueled a form of social pressure. As in the mindset of 'everyone is doing, so should I'. And, in general, I do not care if I am doing what other people are doing.

On top of that the physical demands of the sport are fairly high. I tend to have muscle aches for at least a day and have trouble sleeping after lessons. And lastly it is expected to have a certain level of commitment. Like it should be at least the fourth most important thing to you and for me it was not even in the top ten.

So I started wondering if kobudo was the best solution to my problem of not being healthy enough. I wondered if I should simply stop.

I needed to work on my health though, and kobudo provided that for me. And it is really fun to learn all those techniques. So there are clear benefits, but did they outweigh the downsides?

After some thing (like literal months) I figured it out. Kobudo was not for me. Although it brought me health, I never really clicked with the style of teaching, the whole warrior mindset. I realised that even though there may be benefits to something, the downsides can sometimes be reason enough to not do a thing.

Final thougths

What I learned from doing kobudo is that it is always good to try something new if something sounds interesting or fun. It is possible that you feel uncomfortable doing something new, but stepping out of your comfort zone makes life interesting. Of course feeling a little uncomfortable about something is not the same as feeling unsafe about something.

So explore and see what is possible and don't feel bad about quiting something or not doing it at all. Sometimes you know that something is not for you and sometimes you need some time to learn it is not for you.