The difference between knowledge and action, ideas and execution

As I’m sitting here writing this, it’s grey and rainy outside. It’s the kind of weather where you want to stay indoors by an open fire, spending time with people you love, and who love you. 

That, in fact, is exactly what I’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks: my daily routine has changed to almost the binary opposite of what it usually looks like. Waking up early and having a cold shower has been replaced by lazing in bed for as long as possible, before having a long, hot shower. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. We need some time to unwind; that’s what holidays are for. 

The problem is that I have a number of things built into my daily routine keeping me on an even keel. My cold showers aren’t a form of self-flagellation, but rather a proven way to stave off depression. Not having them reduces my resilience by a small amount each day. 

I have other strategies that are good for my mental health. I drink camomile tea every morning; I stand or sit in front of a SAD light for half an hour during the winter months; I exercise every day. The trouble with altering my daily routine when on holiday, especially during the dark winter months, is that it can lower your resilience. I’m more prone to negativity.

Like most people, I know what’s good for me. The trouble is, we don’t always choose to do it. For example, I found out a few days ago that my photophobia can be reduced by eating green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale. If this remains as head knowledge instead of something I actually act upon, it’s pretty useless.

As a Philosophy graduate – as someone interested in parsing the difference between ideas and approaches to life – I’ve always been OK with knowledge for its own sake. As I grow older and my children grow up I’m more interested in the application of knowledge. I want to know how I should live and then put that into practice.

In a roundabout way, this disconnect between knowledge and action is the reason I’m not precious about ‘my ideas’. First of all, the chances of my brain being the only one to have thought a particular thing is somewhat ludicrous. Second, the chances of me executing on each and every idea are slim. If I want something to exist in the world, the best thing I can do is share what I’ve thought with others – and, of course, not preventing them acting on that information.