Habits revisited. The startup of me

There are many different types of behaviors and rituals and habits. I do not know of a complete classification for them.
Habits are good and bad. Maybe the line in that sand of stubborn behavior is if a habit can’t be changed. If the habit seizes control of the mind and its mechanisms and levers.
Eskimos have a descriptive vocabulary for ice and snow. All I have for habits is good and bad. There is a big distance between the two ends and they are the holes in a belt.
When you are a child, the mind is an enormous marketplace and habits are exchanged very quickly. One moment you are running in a playground and the next you wake up in your bedroom. Something has happened, but it has carried us.
As we get older, the movement from playground to bedroom requires our cooperation. Habits are offered to us and we either accept or decline them. If we are clever we understand the entirety of the pact, one habit will push and pull at all the others. There is also a high probability that a habit might outlive its utility and that it will penetrate deep under the wood. Our hope is that when a habit becomes harmful to its owner it can be willed away.
Some habits are simple processes, sequences, precedural things. Brushing teeth at appointed times of the day or a coffee in the morning. Those do not require a system to continually reinforce and fix them in place. That is the way with most of a persons behavior, there is very little that is considered.
There are bad habits. These are the ones that do not optimize the user.
Habits don’t leave magically, they have to be coerced unto us and to rid ourselves of them requires the coercion of new habits to fill that emptying space.  As the contents are leaving the pitcher, new contents of equal measure must be poured in.
To better express what I mean I must also say what I don’t mean. Smoking and poor diet are bad habits, but they are not insidious. They are a slow, sugary, taxed and consumerist form of suicide. Those parts of the brain can be rewired relatively easy.
Success or failure in achieving cessation goals can be observed and measured and math applies. The mirror and a scale, and the way clothes fit, and the way we look and the way people look at us are reliable metrics. The math is very simple. Its calories in, calories out. Smoking is also like that, I am either smoking or not smoking.
I have defeated both of those things. I own my body. I wrote about my physical transformation here. The startup of me is both physical and psychological. They are two teams tunneling towards each other.
People take the habits indoctrinated from their work and let those sink several layers deep into their onion. Beneath all that skin is the nucleus, it is the person we are in our deepest, vulnerable, sleep as we are being limply carried home from the playground.
How do you change those habits?
It is very hard. I will tell you how I am doing it.
When I was an a young teenager, Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the documentary Pumping Iron.
There is scene that I remember well. He is talking about how he improved his calves. He cut off his jeans so that the world could see that they were not of proportion to the rest of him. It was his weakness to overcome, or not.
The mind can be adversarial. The mind can and will deceive us and we constantly need to measure ourselves to what is real.
We might have a loving family and great support, or we might not. Friends and family try to be nice, they are thoughtful. But their kindness can also assist a deceiving mind. So, peoples words are not a reliable indicator of progress in changing a habit. People cannot be the scale that we weigh ourselves on. It is only us.
I am trying to change me. Its nothing that you can see, so I can’t cut off my jeans at the calves and reveal myself in that way.
Instead I can do this. So, I am doing this.
I am also a person who likes change, I like to improve myself and I keep my creaky rail car moving forward on its path. Also, I love me but I also do not like me.
I like the person I am but I also like the person I want to be.
And, I like that I can be be that person I want to be.
Alterations cannot happen unwillingly. Beneath all its layers and all the complexity and interoparbaility that each layer possesses and that affects every other layer, the nucleus is a fun house. For it to be modified, it must be, even for a short time, be de-activated, its twisted mirrors straightened, the sounds turned down and the things that bump in the darkness and scare must be put away.
That happens thru meditation. I have practiced Buddhism, on and off, for years. But I never knew what meditation is. I know how to not talk, how to breath and how to endure 30 minutes of quietude, how to chant rhythmically.
But I never really understood what my mind should, or shouldn’t be doing. I found this audio book very helpful. Thank you Kelly McGonigalThe mind does a lot of things when we would like it to be doing nothing.
In its most relaxed state it is still operating, creating and imagining, its chaotic. Its thinking about yesterday, tomorrow, what we think of ourselves, what we think other people think of us.
Mindfulness is a can opener.
But, mindfulness without adherence and compliance is only another deception. Relying on the mind to keep score doesn’t work. At a certain age we must carry ourselves home from the playground. The goals, those new habits to be poured in and need to be written and shared. Goals need a paper trail and compliance. I will share some of mine.
This is my reveal. It may be self explanatory, it may not be. It is the things I am working on improving right now.
These quick bullets in order of how they appear on my daily tracker:
Date: I have been storing these for two years. The daily planners are frequently modified and I am regularly adding and subracting.
Sleep: This is the most immediate place I can get improvement from. I have defintely found strong correlation between my sleep and moods, memory and self discipline.
Todays Priority: These are the things that are to-do’s for my exclusive benefit. They are not work, or investment, or this or that. It is the selfish stuff that I want to do that is important to me, not important for me. (today i bought my cat a whole new food program, ideal for an aging housecat)
What am I doing: This has been an ongoing category in the years I have been using this reporting and compliance mechanism. I want to be accountable to my self and my use, or misuse of time.
Mindfulness: Self evident. When did I say, or speak or act wrongly. Its a training process.
What did I read today: I read a lot but quantity has comprimisd quality, everyday I try and stick to even a chapter of the classics. These is the wisdom of Seneca, written almost 2,000 years ago. True then and true today. Seneca is here
Nightly check up: I used to go to sleep when i was tired, that was a mistake. Now I go to sleep when I am done for the day. This is the checklist that I use. Caught up on reading are those items that are timely and relevant to me for time and place.
My primary focus on this iteration of my daily planner is mindfulness. I am not mindful much more than I am mindful.
I like this quote from Tim Ferriss and I would add, from my experience, that sometimes the uncomfortable conversations can be with yourself…
A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.
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