Strategies for re-patterning your life
By Adam Tatelman, Arts Editor
Because humans are habitual creatures, we tend to like routines. You may say you’re going to stop doing something, but actually altering a long-term routine is not so easy. This ugly truth was made apparent to me when I actually tried to get up at 6 a.m. for the first time in 3 years.
Without any particular reason to haul my ass out of bed, I shouldn’t have been surprised that it didn’t happen right away. I did, however, manage to rise at 7 a.m. when I had to make the UBC Orientation at 9 a.m. So, lesson one: when making goals, be sure to have a concrete motivation for accomplishing them. Otherwise, the initial discomfort will prove too much of a hassle to push through.
Consider social media. Visiting sites like YouTube and Facebook is such a habit for me that, upon the slightest distraction I actually find myself typing their names into the address bar without realizing it. When habits are sublimated to this degree, one must remove the potential to abuse them entirely.
In my case, I made a huge blacklist of websites I tend to waste time on and restricted my access to them. Parental settings and programs like Cold Turkey are helpful for this. With no option to access these obstacles, I now get as far as typing “yout” before realizing I can’t visit that site anymore. Then I get back to work.
That’s a definite mantra of monk mode—you will almost never succeed at something the first time you try it. There will be a period of discomfort and adjustment, and your old ways will seep in, no matter what you do. The only way to get through is to keep finding new strategies for change. Impose penalties for failure without excessive self-immolation, and be sure to reward yourself when you succeed.
Next week, we discuss rewards and meditation. Until then, fellow monks, tashi deley (I honor the greatness within you).