Tag Archive | Habit(s)

On pleasure 4

The art of living is the art of cultivating the right pleasures.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Take any of your pleasures.

Will you remember it tomorrow? In a week? Ever?

Does it persistently change something about you for the better?

What if you had never done it? Would you have missed anything?
What if you never did it again? What would you miss?”

“Do all pleasures need to be useful?”

“They don’t, of course.

What I’m saying is, unlike the rest, useful pleasures compound [<link; short read].

Pleasures are not fate. They’re merely habits – persistent patterns of being. Habits can be cultivated and changed.

What if you only cultivated useful pleasures?
What if you changed all pleasures for useful pleasures?

Who could you become?

Identity-Affirming Habits

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What habits do you track?”

“In Superhuman by Habit, Tynan makes a distinction between new habits and old habits

All habits start as new habits. Starting a habit is the most energy-intensive part of the process. Through daily consistency, new habits progressively take less and less energy to maintain, until, eventually, they reach a point where the maintenance energy reaches zero.

An old habit is a habit that has become effortless. An old habit has become identity.

A new habit is something you do.
An old habit is something you are.

I see identity as a modular structure. I call the elements that make up your identity, identity-blocks. Identity-blocks, big and small, compound in making you who you are.

I track most habits temporarily. That is, I track new habits until they become old habits.

A select few habits, however, I want to track forever: the highest-leverage habits, and those corresponding to the most powerful identity-blocks. These are my non-negociables. I call them identity-afirming habits.”

“So they’re also reminders.”

“Indeed.”

“Which are your current identity-affirming habits?”

Meditation

Writing (Playing with ideas)

Movement (Daily walk(s), Parkour, Perpetual Motion Machine [<link; very short read])

Non-Zero Progress [<link; very short read] – No day without progress towards my most important goals. 

Cold Shower

“Which of them has the longest streak?”

“Writing and cold shower: they’re both 651 days old.”

“Which is the oldest, and which is the youngest?”

“The oldest is meditation. Currently, it’s 395 days old, because I missed a day and I started back from zero.

The newest is non-zero progress. Currently, it’s 28 days young.”

The Writing Habit

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the writing habit?”

“The habit of writing every single day. 

It doesn’t matter what you write about, it doesn’t matter how much you write, it doesn’t matter how well you write; it matters only that you do.”

“What if life gets in the way?”

“Design the habit (and any habit) with the worst days in mind. Make the floor too small to fail. By floor, I mean the minimum daily target for the habit to be considered complete.”

“What is the measure of success?”

“When you can no longer conceive of a day without writing. When writing becomes identity.”

On Burpees and Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I get to 100 burpees every day like Brian Johnson does?”

“Understand that it’s as much mental as it is physical. You have to make it meaningful.

Deeply internalize that Energy is your most important resource. It’s an enabler for everything you do. Movement is one essential aspect of Energy – and your overall well-being –, next to Sleep, Eating, and Oscillation.

The most important systems of personal-meaning are your Identity and your Values. You have to integrate Movement into both of these systems.

Embrace your identity of Mover / Athlete.
Embrace Movement as one of your primary Values.

In strategic terms, do them in small sets, and spread them out throughout the day. To ensure consistency, have a system for it.”

“What does your system look like?

“I use the following terminology:

Micro-Unit = 1 burpee (the floor)
Unit = 5 burpees
Macro-Unit = 2 x Unit = 10 burpees (the ceiling)

I like multiples of 5 because they’re easier to count. 

The key to consistency I found is connecting the burpee habit with other activities.

More specifically, with my work-time. I do 3 units (3 x 5) during every work-hour: one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. If for any reason I skip one, I do a macro-unit (10) next time.

The beauty of this system is that, once it becomes a habit, you don’t need to track your overall daily progress. You know that if you’ve worked 6 hours, you’ve done 90 burpees.”

“What if I can barely do 5 burpees? How can I build up to it?”

To build up to it, adjust the unit. 

Start with the micro-unit – 1 burpee. This is the habit-seed [<medium; short read]. 
Stay at 1 burpee until it feels easy, then add another one. This becomes your new unit.

Whenever the unit feels easy, add another rep.

Whenever you feel tired during the day and feel you can no longer sustain the volume, gradually scale down the unit for the day, all the way to the micro-unit if need be. It’s more important to maintain the habit – three units per hour, however small the unit – than to reach 100.

Focus on Quality. (Perfect/Quality-Reps

Think of every burpee session as a micro-meditation. Start every single one by taking a deep breath and connecting with yourself (Centering). 

In terms of feedback, use sound and markings on the floor to assess quality. The less sound you make – this is called Stealth in Parkour –, and the more precise your hand and foot placement, the better the quality of the rep.

You can also add Variety from time to time and experiment with various types of burpees.”

The Purpose of Learning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is knowledge?”

“Is it information?”

“Knowledge is organized and integrated information.

Knowledge is Understanding.

Having knowledge is not enough (passive knowledge). It’s important to be able to access it efficiently whenever you need it (active knowledge). Being unable to access it when you need it is as if you didn’t have it.”

“How can you access knowledge efficiently?”

“By converting it into skills.

Skills are essentially habits – persistent neural patterns.

Learning is building knowledge. (input)
Learning is converting knowledge into skills. (output)

Learning is ultimately about converting passive knowledge into active knowledge.

Project Inventorying Habits 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“We are bundles of habits. The habits we form (and those we discard) shape the trajectory of our life.”

“They also reveal the trajectory of our life.

Habits are your history. As you inventory your habits [<link; medium length], make it a habit to arrange them chronologically, to make the trajectory visible.

All habits have a history. As you inventory your habits, make it a habit to reflect on how each habit came to be, and how they contributed to who you are today.”

On Celebration and Stacking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“A beautiful idea I got from BJ Fogg’s book Tiny Habits is that the most important factor in habit creation is Celebration. By celebrating immediately after the desired habitual behavior, you make it more likely to engage in it next time.

You may have heard the idea that it takes 40 days to install a new habit. Actually, the more intense the celebration, the less time it takes to install a habit.

“How can you increase the intensity of the celebration?”

“One way to do it is by stacking several practices on top of it, thus amplifying the emotional effect.”

“A kind of emotional flooding [<link; short length]?”

“Yes.

The way I do it is as follows:

That’s like me! (Practice: Celebration)

I love you Dani. (Practice: Self-Love, Connecting with my Inner Child)

I love you Dani-who-I-will-be. (Practice: Self-Love, Connecting with my Future-Self, Recommitment)

I love you [the name of one person whose life touched mine]. (Practice: Active Love)

Thank you [for one thing, or to one person]. (Practice: Gratitude)

I say it like a little mantra.

I’m not only amplifying the celebration, but also practicing several things at once. This is what I call a high-density practice.”

“Do you do this every time you celebrate?”

“No. I say it strategically, when I need it most.”

Project Inventorying Habits

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I measure progress?”

“There are many metrics you can use. 
One of them is Identity [<link; medium read].
Another one is Productivity [<link; medium read].

Another one is Habits.

In an important sense, habits are the fundamental unit of Growth. They automate behavior, making it effortless, which frees mental-space and energy.

The Growth process is both additive and subtractive. As concerns habits, it involves two aspects:

Habit-Making: creating habits (Additive)
Habit-Breaking: eliminating habits (Subtractive)

All the habits you have created and eliminated over the years have led to where you are today. That’s why I like to call habits ‘the building-blocks of Fate’.

The problem with habits is that, once installed, they tend to disappear from Awareness. They become invisible. I find it useful to make them visible again. I call this process Habit Awareness

Habit Awareness: the meta-habit of bringing habits back into Awareness”

“Why do you find it useful to bring habits back into Awareness?”

“Part of it is to counter the tendency to take them for granted. Becoming aware of your habits opens the opportunity to appreciate them (Gratitude practice).

Part of it is that habits are resources. You can use them as anchors (reminders) and triggers for installing other habits.

I’ve started recently creating an inventory of all my habits. Both big and small. Both those I’ve created and those I’ve eliminated over the course of my life. The list is far from finished, but it already offers a beautiful glimpse of my growth trajectory and serves as a vivid reminder of how far I’ve come.”

Habit Optimization 3

Make your best performance your new baseline. (Josh Waitzkin)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I optimize habit-tracking?”

“Marking a habit as done feels good. You can amplify this effect by also celebrating your small win. 

I like to do it by saying to myself ‘That’s like me!‘ I know this little mantra from Brian Johnson. When I say it, I also express Gratitude to Brian, and send him and his family Love. This amplifies the effect even more.

If marking a habit as done feels good, marking ALL of them at the end of day feels even better. I like to call this AD (All Done). You can use this to your advantage.”

“How?”

“The main benefit of tracking a habit is that you can see its continuity. ‘I’ve been doing this for x days in a row.’ The longer the chain, the harder it becomes to break, and the more satisfying it feels. 

What’s even more powerful than seeing the continuity of a habit is seeing the continuity of your AD. 

AD is also a habit – a meta-habit. The habit of completing all your habits every day.”

“So the idea is:

Track your AD, not just your habits.

“Precisely.

I like to do it in writing.

AD tracking

I write the calendar in pencil, and whenever I have an AD day, I write on top with a pen.

Seeing the continuity of your AD feels really good. I’m now working on making it my new baseline.”

“That’s a useful feature for a habit-tracking app. I mean, the AD visible as a separate row, whose continuity you can see at a glance. Once you complete all habits for a day, the AD becomes marked automatically.”

“I guess it is.”

Beautiful Habits: Appreciating Humor

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“That was funny.”

“That’s yet another beautiful opportunity to practice Gratitude. 

Open your Heart in Gratitude every time someone makes you laugh or smile. Say a heartfelt ‘Thank you‘, and smile.