i just finished another book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by charles dugg.
the author analyzed how habits form, and how we can change them and form new habits.
the more technical parts like finding out what’s the cue and the reward isn’t what i want to talk about today though.
i’m more interested in changing the environment to make adopting a new habit easier.
i speak from experience, as i noticed i’ve managed to work around many obstacles in constructing good habits.
and it’s really quite serendipitous how i discovered them.
i had an “aha” moment when reading the book because i realize i’ve been doing some of the suggestions outlined in the book long before i know how habits work.
one of the hardest thing for me to do when my skin is bad is waking up.
after being dried out for 24 hours (from my last shower), and an 8 hour period without water,
i wonder if this is how rising from the graves feel like.
i have come to believe that our will power is a limited resource, if we don’t find other sources of motivation,
we’ll soon wear our will out and end up not doing anything.
getting myself out of bed used to be a problem, but over the past 5 years i’ve found routines that can help me get into motion.
the habit i want to talk about today is getting myself to leave bed even when i don’t feel like it.
last time, i used my breakfast to motivate me.
lately, it’s been the morning shower that i freshen up my skin with that keeps me from staying in bed all day.
even then, there’s still room for improvements – not just to get myself out of bed, but to minimize stress.
i’ve been through several versions of my morning routine even though they’re all me doing the same thing.
- wake up around 7+ when the sun rises, have my breakfast, shower, meditate (on a side note, i sleep with my curtains open so that the when the sky lights up, it’ll act as a natural alarm clock)
- wake up around 7+ when the sun rises, shower, meditate, have my breakfast
- wake up around 3/4am, shower, meditate, have my breakfast
that’s 3 variations of my morning routine.
some things don’t change, like meditating straight after shower because that’s the most convenient time for me.
i need to cool down after my shower anyway, instead of spending half an hour doing something aimlessly, i might as well use it to calm my mind and focus on my breathing.
in fact, this is exactly why i find it so easy for myself to keep meditating day after day – because i have a very convenient time slot for it to happen.
when adopting a new habit that might not give you immediate rewards, creating the environment that encourages the action is very important to help you stick to it.
it’s as though i built a set of rails over the uneven terrain, all that’s left for me to do after that is to turn on the train and it’ll make its way through the designated stations instead of having me drive a car on the road through the different roads, requiring my mind and effort at every turn.
it’s like auto-piloting!
what surprised me is how a small little change in my waking time can impact my mood so much.
i’m really just working with my body – i’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and i’d wake up around 2 or 3am, scratching and itching while being half awake.
even if i were to fall back asleep, i’d still wake every 2 hours and i feel extremely frustrated by the interrupted sleep.
one day i was watching some health videos, and as the chiropractor talked about how to get a good night’s sleep,
one should go to be before 10pm and then wake up at 4am so that over a month,
the body will be adjusted to sleep soundly throughout the night.
that was what gave me the idea of “why don’t i try waking up at 4am instead of trying to fall back asleep? i should wake up before i scratch myself to death!”, and that’s what i’ve been doing the past few days.
my sleep isn’t good yet, i’m clocking around 3-4 hours at night if i’m lucky.
the thing that bug me the most is falling asleep late. like way later than i would like to.
for optimal health, i really want to knock out before 11pm. there’s a bunch of TCM theories behind this time 🙂
some days i’ll have to supplement with day time naps, but i’m trying to cut it out so i can be tired enough to sleep earlier at night instead.
it’s only been 3 or 4 days since i tried waking up so early, but i’m really loving it!
very unexpectedly loving it 😀
one of the best thing about waking up at 4am is that the sky is still dark.
i can’t see my skin when i wake up – and it makes a hell of a difference when my skin isn’t that good yet.
seeing it dry and red stresses me out, and surely that’s not the first thing you’d want to feel in the morning!
not seeing it makes me feel better. a whole lot better.
also, the temperature tends to be cooler in the dead of the night,
i wake up feeling comfortable – not too hot or cold.
because i’ve only been in bed for 7 or 8 hours (as opposed to 10, because i go to bed early but i toss for several hours till 7am the next morning), my skin isn’t as dry at 4am, which means more comfort.
lastly, because i wake up after 1 sleep cycle at 4am (instead of an accumulated of 3-4 times if i were to try to sleep till 7am),
i don’t feel like my sleep is interrupted when i don’t expect myself to go back to sleep.
i don’t feel as frustrated!
and the thought of knowing i don’t have to force myself back to sleep takes away the pressure when i can’t fall asleep.
all in all, i actually look forward to waking at 4am now.
it gives me even more motivation than breakfast, but that’s partly because my diet is quite pathetically simple at the moment.
the lack of a savoury meal takes away a chunk of the original motivation.
luckily for me, i’ve found better ones.
and it happened so accidentally.
i guess if we can all keep an open mind and constantly try new stuff,
we’ll chance upon better options and routines for ourselves.
i seriously can’t remember the last time i felt so stress free in the morning,
and i think having lesser stress would contribute to a better well being and faster healing too.
so it’s really a win-win situation for me: i get out of bed happy, and a happy me means a faster recovery!
if you’re currently having a hard time living life the way you should,
see if you can shift things around to create a conducive environment for you to live easier with lesser effort,
because you need to save all your other will power to keep your mind positive.
it’s one of the tricks i learnt while dealing with TSW last time,
and it’s definitely proving to be a very valuable skill.
of course, some habits are easier to form than others.
i’m still trying to break the habit of scratching mindlessly when i’m stressed out, or bored.
when it comes to matters that require my own consciousness, it needs more effort,
so far, i find that whenever i catch myself scratching when i’m not itching, taking in a deep breath usually calms me down so much that i don’t need to continue scratching anymore.