Habits Articles

Want to Break that Good Habit Just Once? 5 Tips to Avoid Backsliding

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

pieslicesI’m working on Better Than Before, a book about how we can change our habits. The most fascinating subject ever.

In it, one thorny question that I tackle is: How can we make an exception to a good habit, without disrupting that good habit altogether? After all, sometimes we do want to break a habit — to take advantage of a rare opportunity, say, or to celebrate.

Porn Addiction: Not the Whole Story

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Porn Addiction: Not the Whole StoryThe issue of whether porn addiction is real has produced a storm of controversy. Yet all this noise may be distracting us from a graver risk to healthy sexuality: sexual conditioning of adolescents.

I monitor a number of popular online recovery forums. I have read self-reports of thousands of otherwise healthy young men who heal severe symptoms, including sexual dysfunctions (anorgasmia, delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, loss of attraction to real people) by removing a single variable: Internet porn use.

5 Mindful Treatments for Rumination

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

5 Mindful Treatments for RuminationRumination is a mental habit which leads to fixation on flaws and problems, thus extending a negative mood.

With continued attention to our problems, we become obsessed with our pain and can retreat from life. We stop eating (or eating more), sex drive disappears, sleep is disrupted, we are tired all the time, life is dull, and we do less and less.

Rumination starts off as a dim light that we stop putting energy into, allowing it to get darker and darker until we can’t see anymore.

Why the Issues that We Ignore Often Come Back to Plague Us

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

austerpaulIn his memoir Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure novelist Paul Auster wrote:

“By the end of 1977, I was feeling trapped, desperate to find a solution. I had spent my whole life avoiding the subject of money, and now, suddenly, I could think of nothing else.”

This reminded me of a thought-provoking interview I did with personal finance expert Zac Bissonnette a few years ago.

Rejecting or Embracing the Sacred in Meditation

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Rejecting or Embracing the Sacred in MeditationI recently taught a class in creative contemplation that was based on Lectio Divina, or divine reading. It is a practice undertaken by contemplative Christians and monks in which one completely surrenders to the voice of God as inspired by a line of scripture.

I have no real allegiance to Christianity, other than my upbringing, and presented the practice in a completely secular course. Much modern meditative and contemplative forms are presented this way. Centuries-old sacred traditions are stripped of theology and much underlying philosophy as a means of adapting each to a stressful, material world. It is sort of like insisting that prayer without an object or spirit to pray to will bring about a miracle. The act, not the deity, holds the influence.

You Don’t Have to Do Everything Perfectly

Friday, September 26th, 2014

self-image-meme

One of my biggest struggles is the fact that I feel like I have to do everything just right. There’s some small part of me that kind of panics if I don’t do things correctly, or the way I imagine they should be done.

How to Know if You’re Truly Resilient

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

How to Know if You're Truly ResilientIf there’s a word people in the top ranks of human capital are buzzing about these days, it’s resilience. I get asked all the time what it means — followed by questions about how to get more of it.

I’ve done lots (and lots) of reading and thinking and speaking about resilience. I’ve watched it in action, experienced it myself, and heard more than one person oversimplify it (“The ability to bounce back,” for instance), while hearing others attempt to explain it biologically and psychologically (and go on far too long).

The fact is, resilience in a person is far more than a tough-as-Teflon surface or rubbery resolve that helps you rebound from stress or disappointment.

Using Your Senses to Gain a Richer Life

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Using Your Senses to Gain a Richer LifeBeing present is the essence of a mindfulness meditation practice. When we think of meditation, we often think of sitting on the floor, eyes closed, legs crossed, chanting “om,” but you don’t have to begin here — nor do you have to chant om.

Actual “sitting” practice is what we call formal practice. Informal practice is bringing presence into our daily lives, when our eyes are wide open. We can enter our lives with more presence through our five senses.

Our senses are the way we interpret and experience the world. We gather information about our experiences through our senses. For many of us, these senses have become dull and numb, and we wonder why we aren’t experiencing a life of more quality and richer experience.

Managing Anger

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Managing AngerRegulating emotions is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and others in your environment.

Emotional regulation is really about the ability to bring yourself back on even keel, to calm yourself down when you are distressed, to lift yourself up when you are feeling dejected, and to help yourself feel better. It is about being able to restrain yourself from destructive actions and point yourself in the direction of constructing, value-creating actions.

Emotions provide us with information, and by acknowledging them and redirecting them as needed, we become less a victim of our thoughts and feelings and more of a responsible steward of them.

Before & After: Learning to Fit Yourself Back into the Schedule

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Before & After: Odd Days, I Do Everything I Can for Mom. Even Days, for Me.I’m writing my next book, Better Than Before, about how we make and break habits –  an issue  very relevant to happiness. Each week, I post a before-and-after story submitted by a reader, about how he or she successfully changed a habit. We can all learn from each other. If you’d like to share your story, contact me here.

Do You Resist When Anyone Asks or Tells You to Do Something?

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

ColumnIt may have been a while since I posted on the Four Tendencies, but have no doubt, I’m still obsessed with this subject.

I came up with the Four Tendencies framework as part of my work on Better Than Before, my book on habit change.

There, I reveal the secret of habit formation.

Quieting the Voice of the Devil on Your Shoulder

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Quieting the Voice of the Devil on Your ShoulderI often equate having schizophrenia to having a little devil on my shoulder that likes to whisper nasty stuff in my ear.

He’s a cunning little jerk, too. If he senses a vulnerability or the potential for anxiety he’ll start screaming.

In the eight years I’ve lived with the illness I’ve come to recognize these triggers and do a pretty good job of avoiding them. You can’t do it forever, though, and eventually the devil is gonna start screaming again.

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