Tagged With habits

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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.

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If you made a simple creative action every day, what would you have at the end of 100 days? April 3 starts #The100DayProject, which invites you to answer that question for yourself. Past participants have done 100 days of collages, pompoms, illustrated quotes and dancing in public.

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Everyone tells you that to build a new good habit, you should start small. Pick one incremental way to ease into your New Thing, and slowly work up from there. It's sensible advice, and I've never, ever taken it.

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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.

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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.

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If you've read into health and fitness at all, you've probably seen variations of "breakfast is the most important meal of the day", "eat breakfast to kickstart your metabolism" or perhaps "skip breakfast and die". As it turns out, all of that is probably wrong.

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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.

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If you're trying to kick a bad habit, try rewarding yourself with something in its place rather than punishing yourself when you fail. Habits are often so rooted in our subconscious that we don't even realise we're doing them, which can make stopping one that's bad for us especially hard to handle.

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"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.

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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.

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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.

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The most frustrating thing about a phone addiction is that unlike actual substance abuse, the solution is not to stop using it completely. Instead, we have to find ways to use this technology responsibly, fighting apps overtly designed to steal our time.

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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.

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You might call them "distractions". Maybe you call them your "to-do list". Whatever words you use, they're the things that keep pulling you away from what you should be doing right now. These habits require your reaction, and they get in the way of real productivity.