Positive Habits

7:31 AM Amer Bekic 0 Comments

Many people want to start positive habits, but struggle to avoid distractions (like television and Facebook.) Maybe you want to write ten pages of fiction per week, but instead of working you end up surfing the web and checking email. You know you're choosing instant gratification over lasting fulfillment, but can't seem to help yourself. I think most of us, in some form or another, can relate to this frustrating scenario.

To overcome inertia and implement positive habits that last, you need to develop a greater sense of agency. Taking ownership of yourself and your actions is a fundamental aspect of personal development. See, when the average guy sits down to work, and ends up surfing the web instead, he thinks this is something that just happened. He believes that giving into distraction is normal (perhaps inevitable) and mostly out of his control. Sure he's the one clicking out of Microsoft Word, but in his mind this isn't a big deal. He's “tired” and work was “frustrating today.” Besides, no one cares if he postpones his personal development for one more day. With all these things on his mind, the average Joe feels totally justified in spending another night doing nothing instead of pursuing self-improvement.

Become Life-Affirming

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” - Confucius

To break out of the evil cycle of distraction, frustration, and unproductivity, start taking your actions at face-value. If you find yourself doing nothing instead of working, admit that you did not actually intend to work that night. That's right: you lied to yourself. It's not a big deal; we all do it, but at least be honest.

Likewise, if you consistently flake on going to the gym, you're not "too tired" or "too busy." Admit you're lazy and afraid of success. Seriously, honesty will take a weight off your shoulders and allows you to analyze your past actions with more clarity.

Excuses screw you in the long run because they take away your agency. Saying you’re “too busy” at first sounds like a good reason to not work out (or better than saying “I don’t care about my health.”) However, excuses like these simultaneously affirm that you’re not a fully autonomous person. You’d like to get in shape, but you can’t (for some reason). Apparently you don’t possess free will and partially identify as a slave.

Instead, be life-affirming. Treat all your actions and decisions as reflections of what you believe and where you’re at in life. Taking responsibility for your struggles affirms that you are, despite it all, still in charge of your own destiny. You have the capacity to do better tomorrow, to learn, and to continue growing. It’s when you start to deny your own agency and blame others/society/insert excuse here for your problems that you truly get stuck. Doing so is the beginning of death and decay.

Trust reality. If you consistently fail to achieve your goals, understand that this is not “bad luck” or something that “everyone struggles with.” It’s not due to your past, or your parents, or Trump. You are yourself over. And guess what? You are doing so on purpose. Understand?

It’s uncomfortable to admit, but we all have a Good side and a self-destructive side. Notice that your self-destructive side exists. When you go on Facebook instead of working on your goals you are broadcasting loud and clear: “My goals aren’t very important. Who am I to deserve that kind of success any ways?” Nothing is random, all is Game.

At this point someone usually says, “Well, am I to blame for my abusive upbringing, or the crime in my neighborhood? Many of the issues I face I had no hand in creating.” This is true, but you are still responsible for your response to these issues. How could you not be?

A Note on Thoughts
Stop taking your thoughts so seriously. No one else can hear them, they are wildly biased, and have little or nothing to do with objective reality. Let the manifested world be your guide. If good things are showing up in your life, then you are doing something right. If you keep finding yourself in adverse situations, then you have more learning to do. Your gaze should be outwards at the ‘real world,’ not turned inwards on your feelings and baggage.