Tuesday, February 19th, Day 168, Habits

Tuesday, February 19th, Day 168, Habits



If you would like to join me in this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

I have been pondering about things I wrote yesterday.  How often have I fallen into the trap of thinking I am worthless?  Where does the tendency to do that come from?  Dr. David Burns said part of it can come from all-or-nothing thinking.  In all-or-nothing thinking, we are either 100% successes or 100% failures.  We either pass or we fail.  There is no middle ground.
More important than determining the origin of that kind of thinking is the ability to replace it with a healthier mindset.  Much as I appreciate the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) program, breaking long-term sobriety is perilous.  You either have fifteen or so years of sobriety or if you get drunk one time, you have none.  All-or-nothing.  You can possibly never catch up what you have lost.  It can be so discouraging to lose accumulated sobriety that you give up sobriety entirely and just drink.  You can lose your sense of worth in an instant.

Using JV Life Tracker

I use a statistics system to track consecutive days of using JV Life Tracker.  I used the tool every day for a whole year, but for some reason or another failed to use it for a day or so, and lost my whole year.  I did that twice.  Right now, I have just 36 consecutive days of use.  It will take quite a while to get back to a year again.

What Is The Best System To Use?

What is the best system to use?  I do not know.  For tracking my food in Cronometer, I am giving myself one point for each day and subtracting two points if I miss a day.  The AA system has the advantage of encouraging consecutive days of sobriety.  However, its all-or-nothing approach, which potentially leads to a sense of worthlessness, does not work for many people.  When I attended AA, I noticed that people tended to revolve in and out.  Most of the rewards were for the first 90 days, and people kept doing the first 90 days over and over again.   Maybe that was better than no sobriety at all.  You had to salute people when they kept coming back.
I am not proposing an alternate solution for AA.  A dire consequence for drinking one time perhaps is appropriate because getting drunk can really set you back.

What About Other Habits?

What about other things?  If we miss our exercise one time, what are the consequences?  If we lose the habit of exercise that is pretty serious.  If we just miss one session, that is not such a big deal.
Habits are easier to acquire if we do an activity every day.  I have never successfully acquired the habit of doing something every other day or even three times per week.  I have tried to make that work, tracked it with JV Life Tracker, etc.  I can do something approximately every two days on the average but not exactly every other day.

What Do Our Habits Have to do With Our Self-Worth?

What do our habits have to do with our self-worth?   Establishing a good habit can be great for our sense of self-worth.  However, good habits are hard to keep.  Losing a good habit or even just breaking it can undermine our sense of self-worth.  How can we protect ourselves from this?  We can evaluate the habit’s value.  If it is worth continuing, we can re-establish it as soon as possible.  Or we can replace it with an even better habit.  We can recognize that taking vacations from our habits may be beneficial once in a while.  We can return to re-evaluate the habit and re-establish it or replace it with an even better one.

Do Not Try To Establish Too Many Habits At Once

Barrie Davenport wrote a book about establishing habits called, Sticky Habits: 6 Simple Steps to Create Good Habits That Stick. She has a lot of good advice.  In establishing habits, it is important to not try to establish too many habits at once.  Establishing a new habit can cause one or more old habits to slide.  I have been cautious lately to not work on too many habits at once.  Right now, I have my Big Four (meditation, Cronometer, blog, and JV Life Tracker).  I am still in the process of establishing exercise.  I have been hit and miss about it.

Track Your Habits

In establishing habits, it is advantageous to have a way of tracking whether you have done it or not.  JV Life Tracker has a way of doing this.  So does Cronometer and my blog.  Currently, I check off meditation in JV Life Tracker.  I used to use Insight Timer, but they have recently changed their marketing strategy, and I have not been as excited about them.  However, the app tracks consecutive days and gives you milestones.  JV Life Tracker can track anything you want, up to thousands of things.

What is the Value of a Habit To Us?

Our good habits can help us establish our self-worth, but losing them can undermine it.  Also, it is possible to be so focused on a good habit that we lose the opportunity to form an even better habit.  So, is it good to have habits?  What is the value of a habit to us?
Habits can help us reach goals, including health and monetary goals.  Our habits determine who we become.  It is most valuable to establish consistent habits because they are most likely to help us reach our goals.  I have found that consistency is easiest to establish when I do a habit daily.  I tried to establish posting a blog two times a month.  Even though experts recommend that frequency, that did not work very well for me.  I started out okay, but I kept extinguishing my habit when other priorities crowded it out.
Now I post a blog entry almost every day.  Writing has become my life.  Writing crowds out other things, but they are probably less important to me.  I do not have to force myself to write anymore.  I still need to establish the habit of promoting my blog.  I will do that once my habit of writing is firmly established.

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