Long before I noticed any fitness benefits of doing burpees every morning, I noticed something else: I really, really, did not want to get out of bed. Because once I got out of bed, I would have to do my burpees.
Tagged With habits
We're all probably a little more addicted to our phones than we'd like to be. I know that I instinctively pull mine out whenever there's a break in the action of the day be that when I'm on the train, between meetings, or even waiting on food at a restaurant. It's easy to take your phone out and get absorbed in what's happening on Facebook or Instagram.
Epictetus, in Discourses, wrote: "And since strong habit leads, and we are accustomed to employ desire and aversion only to things which are not within the power of our will, we ought to oppose to this habit a contrary habit...". If you want to break a bad habit, try doing something new or develop a new good habit that contradicts your bad habit.
Recently, the nonprofit privacy advocacy organisation Electronic Frontier Foundation announced the passing of its founder, John Perry Barlow. He was 70. In addition to his groundbreaking work at EFF and his contributions to the Grateful Dead as a lyricist (Cassidy, anyone?), he established a set of guidelines by which all grown ups should operate.
The start of a new year is, of course, the perfect time for a fresh start. There's the metaphorical power, plus the numerical ease of counting days and months of success from Jan 1. But balanced against the celebratory excess and indulgence of the holiday season, New Year's resolutions can, sadly, tend towards abstinence.
"Self-improvement" is a tricky framework for resolutions. We take the phrase for granted, but what is it really saying? That changing a lifestyle habit improves your very self? That implies moral value to your choices, labelling some habits intrinsically "good" and others "bad". This ends up at the idea that your lifestyle choices affect your inherent worth and value as a person. And honestly, that sucks.
In 2017, for the first time in my life, I actually stuck to a resolution. What's more, I'd failed at the same resolution -- to make a budget and stick to it -- for many previous years. Now, if you think there's something shameful in a grown person not being able to handle her finances, you're right!
Staying motivated enough to work toward our goals can be tough. The minutia of life can get in the way of our lofty dreams - which is where the non-zero method comes in. The idea is simple: Do just one thing every day that help you move toward what you want to achieve. Even if that's just performing one sit up or drinking a glass of water, at least you'll have made some progress.
Maxis's video game The Sims teaches an important lesson about human behaviour: Most of the time, we're just trying to meet a set of basic needs. In the world of the Sims, those needs are hunger, comfort, hygiene, bladder, energy, fun, social, and room, each represented by a slowly depleting bar. And they're so true to life that you should check your own before you leave home or start a long trip.
I once showed up to a party alone, before any of my friends arrived. Instead of mingling, I hid in the bathroom to kill time and avoid talking to strangers. Embarrassing but true. For a shy person, social interaction can be a stomach-churning, anxiety-filled experience. It was for me, but I was able to get it under control with some work and become comfortable talking to strangers.
It takes time and discipline to develop better habits. While there are tricks that can help make those habits easier to form, we often throw money at the situation to try to make them stick.
There's nothing inherently wrong with reading Facebook, unless you'd rather be reading a good book instead (and that whole fake news problem.) Luckily, the habit loop, which David Kadavy describes as the "habit hook" in his post, holds the key to breaking that Facebook habit and replacing it with a reading one.