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Go Deeper Not Wider

Last weekend, I sat in a warm pool in the afternoon, listening to the radio, sipping a cup of tea while gazing lazily out the window. I was contemplating this next year and my past inefficiencies- namely the lessons I had not learned the first time and bad habits I was in the habit of repeating.

Then, something popped up on CBC radio that got my attention. The program interviewer was speaking to a man named David Cain, a blogger who writes about getting better at being human. He was speaking about a philosophy he was contemplating – how to go deeper, not wider.

Surmised, if you are digging in fewer places, you are more likely to uncover something valuable than just scraping the surface of the earth all over.  In our consumer society, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the next big thing, to continually buy stuff in the pursuit of happiness. We continually cover new ground, buying more books, clothes, quests and programs; acquiring more objects to take on hobbies and projects. What if instead, you take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need?

Rather than starting the next new thing, instead look for ways to improve the skills that you already have and consume the media and entertainment you already own. You would take stock of the valuable things you have- the stuff cluttering your existence- and you make it useful again. Read the books you have, complete the programs you have purchased, pick up your guitar, colour your colouring book, or pop in that belly dancing dvd. In doing so, you may experience a deeper level of satisfaction and accomplishment, a sense of relief.

The commitment to a year spent this way he coined a “Depth Year”. Cain states that by taking a whole year to go deeper instead of wider, you create a rich but carefully curated collection of personal interests- rather than dormant infatuations. That it would be a hallmark of maturity representing the transition between having reached adulthood chronological and reaching it spiritually.

I loved this idea. The opportunity to embark on a deeper level of self discovery- not by looking outward for things to fill you up- but rather looking inward to build up that which we already have. Applying this philosophy to WildFit clients, I saw it come to life immediately. Those who completed the Challenge and then immediately embarked on new endeavours more often became distracted, too busy to continue Living WildFit full time, moving away from a sense of consciousness about their decisions and actions.

Whereas those clients who recognized that there was deeper work to be done during the challenge kept using their food dialogue tools daily, so they continued to grow their self awareness and dig deeper into their emotional attachments to food. In doing so, they realized how these patterns manifested in other areas of their life, and so took on the responsibility of changing them.They continually fine tune their Seasonal Food Categories, set solid Seasonal Ratios to follow and check in on trigger foods and cravings. This means they have greater success at continuing towards their goals.

So, what if the missing element in efficiently moving towards our goals is taking on too much, and in doing so, forgetting about the crucial habits and behaviours that keep us steadily progressing forward? Is it possible that our BIG WHY for achieving our health goals can be continually renewed and enlivened by keeping some interest in deeper learning about what our body needs to be optimally healthy- on what we need to feel our best?  

As Cain says, “Going deeper requires patience, practice, and engagement during stretches where nothing much is happening. It’s during those moments that switching pursuits is most tempting. Newness doesn’t require much at all, except, sometimes, a bit of disposable income.” If we really want to uncover the gemstones of ourselves and cultivate rich joy in our own company- we may need to make the commitment to take care of ourselves, not just on a maintenance level, but as a continual deepening interest and activity.

Does this excite or scare you? As a person who loves the creation phase of a project but struggles with the follow through, this idea scares me- and yet I have managed to take on self discovery as a hobby, and eventually even make a career out of it. So, I would offer hope in saying it is possible for anyone! What if the lessons I had not learned the first time and bad habits I was in the habit of repeating were solvable by next year? I can commit myself to deepening my understanding of these inefficiencies and take them on as my main project for the year. This would not only make it possible, but I would evolve as a person in the process.

So, would it be possible for you to take this year as a Depth Year? What would you commit yourself to digging into?  

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