Scoop the Air Out of a Jar

November 20th, 2009 | by obc |

Imagine a large glass jar standing in front of you.  It’s filled with air – that is its “natural” state.  It will continue to be filled with air indefinitely, unless someone comes along and tries to scoop that air out.  People (and everything they’re involved in) have “natural” states like that – we call it “just the way things are” or “that’s just how i am.” Our habits and actions tend to stay the same, unless we decide to change them.

Jar, full of air

How would you go about removing the air out of this jar, if you wanted to change its ‘natural’ state?  Skipping right past the low-tech solution of using an actual scoop, you could place a high-powered fan right above the jar, turn it on and hope that the stream of forced air takes some of the jar air with it.  And this works, somewhat: the air pressure in the jar will be reduced, there will be less actual air in there.  Trouble is, though, not all of the air is removed and the air will go back to its original volume as soon as the fan is shut off.

People tend to do this, when they get fed up with their natural state: they stir up a storm of complaints, possible solutions, and grandiose promises.  Phrases like “Enough!”, “Starting today, things are going to change around here!”, and “From now on, no more […]!” are used.  But what is the end result?  Just a lot of hot air moving around.  The winds of change die down, and we get back to our usual way of being.  Sure, course of history has been changed when proclamations like that have been backed up by actions, but in an overwhelming majority of the cases, this just does not happen.

Another way to get the air out of our jar is to attach a funnel of the same width as the jar’s opening, and attach a vacuum hose to the funnel.  Then just turn on the vacuum, suck all the air out, and seal the jar off.  Done deal, right?  Not quite.  Firstly, the vacuum is at the mercy of even the smallest leak in the seal, and if the jar is mishandled in any way, the seal threatens to fly off, letting all the air back in.  Then we’re back to square one.  Secondly, to make sure the air doesn’t get back in, the jar probably gets put away and out of reach.  Thirdly, the jar is no longer serving its true purpose – it contains nothing!

Isn’t this another way we try to change our natural state?  We start saying ‘No’ to things like certain foods, TV, bad spending habits, etc.  And when it gets harder, we grit our teeth and say ‘No!’ louder.  Eventually, the pressure of resisting gets to be so much (a leak develops) that we cave in, and with a bang!  There are a few who are strong enough to keep saying ‘No’ for years, but those are the kinds of people who don’t have the time to enjoy life – most of their energy goes to controlling the vacuum.

By now you probably realize what the easiest way to scoop the air out of the jar is – and if you’ve had the answer all along, kudos!  You fill the jar up with water, all the way to the top.  Instead of blowing or sucking the air out, all the while worrying about it sneaking or rushing back in, you simply replace it.  Except for the occasional tiny bubble here and there, there’s no air anywhere in the jar.  It can’t come back  – the space is occupied by something heavier and thicker.  And the kicker is that the jar is now serving it’s true purpose – holding something!

Anything that you want to achieve – financial independence or just living within your means, becoming an athlete or just getting to a healthy body-fat percentage, achieving success in public or private sector, or just being the go-to person in personal or professional life – all of that can be done by replacing the bad habits or poor practices with good and effective ones.  Resisting and being on the defensive – not doing – is always harder than taking action and being proactive – doing something.

Open up the faucet, and start filling up your jar, even if a drop at a time. Start being more active, set up automatic contributions to a savings account, show up a little earlier to work, say yes to socializing, implement just one of the Scrooge Strategy tips!  Before you know it, the negative things in your life will fall by the wayside, because doing the good things will be keeping you busy.

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