All posts tagged: Habits

Ditching Multitasking to Be More Mindful

I’m sitting at my desk with my phone on speaker mode. This allows me to participate in this conference call but leaves my hands free to type away on my keyboard. That, in turn, enables me to take care of all manner of business from booking Christmas flights to Miami to checking stats on my football pool to ordering a new coffeemaker. I am a master multitasker! Or, not so much. Turns out I missed half of what each person had to say on the call and added no comments of my own since I was only partially listening. I ordered the wrong carafe for the coffeemaker because I wasn’t paying full attention to that chore either. As for the tickets? Hopefully, I’ll end up in Miami, not Minsk. What’s behind this drive to tackle multiple tasks simultaneously? The obvious answer is that it feels good to get stuff done. But it turns out that a sense of accomplishment isn’t the true driver of this borderline manic behavior. The culprit is actually the rush we …

I Can’t Quit Quitting

I consider myself to be a fairly successful quitter of the things. In my 48 years, I’ve managed to quit bad relationships, self-destructive behavior, credit card debt (mostly) and junk food. I’ve quit crap jobs, crappier friendships and — periodically — drinking. Heck, I would have even quit my own child after three straight months of colic and no sleep, but that’s illegal here in Canada. But smoking? Oh, smoking is a black-hearted bastard. Now, I’ve quit smoking too. Hundreds of times, in fact. I’ve quit for two days, two weeks, two months; I even quit once for two years. I didn’t touch a cigarette for the duration of my pregnancy, and I stayed strong during the postpartum period as well. Until… well, see above re: quitting my own child. The Modern-Day Pariah My 16-year-old son has no concept of a day and age where smokers weren’t treated as lepers. But when I grew up, smoking wasn’t frowned upon. Sheesh, it was a necessary rite of passage! Something you aspired to! I know for a …

Habits of the Mind: Beating Back Anorexia

I spent my youth despising the way I looked, from my (real or imaginary) pooch or my rounded thighs to the creases in my upper arms that skinny girls didn’t have. I took this obsession with my weight to the next level during my junior year of high school and went full-blown anorexic, taking the same mental traits that made me a classic overachiever — disciplined, conscientious, results-oriented — and turning them on my body. It takes a lot of discipline to ignore your body’s hunger signals — especially once it figures out you’re starving. Tracking my restrictions became the anchor habit underlying the anorexia, and I managed to whittle my total daily caloric intake down to 750 calories, starving my body but feeding my mind with goals reached and control expressed. Let’s be clear: Anorexia is not just a disorder of the body. To thrive, eating disorders require a perfect storm of mental, physical and environmental triggers. It’s complicated. Like, woah, complicated. Fat is not a feeling. Anxiety is a feeling. Loneliness is a …

I Have A Lot of Bad Habits…But I’m Working On It

I am an amassment of bad habits, all of them clinging together to crudely resemble a human female. I am a lady-shaped jumble composed of candy corn, terrible excuses, kitty-cat videos and wine. I’m nothing but bad habits, baby. I may be exaggerating a little bit. That’s another bad habit of mine. All right, look: I may have a number of bad habits, but I’m not all that different from anyone else. I’m pretty sure we share a bunch of these. Are any of us really getting enough sleep? Are we exercising as much as we should? Come, now. There may be a few virtuous types out there, the ones who win ultramarathons or help the poor while also following a gluten-free, sugar-free, cruelty-free diet, but I avoid those people. They’re not much fun at parties. I think. I actually avoid parties, too. The thing about most bad habits is that they tend to be fun and therefore hard to get rid of. Conversely, good habits are less fun, which makes them extraordinarily easy to …

Three Words I Want to Stop Saying

There are certain words I say all the time. As in (and I’ve counted) as often as 15 times a day. These words are defaults, slightly more illustrative “ums,” when I don’t have anything more creative, or specific, to say to you. Or I’m just being lazy, sorry. Oops! Let’s start with “sorry” — the worst, most classic offender, said in the most innocuous situations. Bumping into someone anytime, anywhere. When someone nudges in front of me on the subway (a terrible, knee-jerk reaction.) When I hear what you said, but it was so bizarre I need to hear it again. Sorry? Spacing out at packages of Selfie Sticks at the counter at Duane Reade and wondering if I really don’t need one last gift… if Selfie Sticks are, in a sense, a more inclusive photo accessory, allowing for more landscape, more people in your photo. So, then, is it really a “Selfie” Stick? The cashier clears her throat. “Ahem.” “Oh!” I wake up. “Sorry.” According to a 2010 study, we women do apologize more …

2015 Resolutions TueNight

Making a New Year’s Resolution? Consider These 5 Tips

Forty-four percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and I know I always do. Now that I’m obsessed with habits, I’m more inclined to make resolutions than ever, in fact. If my happiness and habits research has convinced me of anything, it has convinced me that resolutions – made right – can make a huge difference in boosting happiness. So how do you resolve well? This is trickier than it sounds. Here are some tips for making your resolutions as effective as possible. Remember, right now, you’re in the planning stage. Don’t feel like you have to do anything yet! Just start thinking about what would make 2015 a happier year. 1. Ask: “What would make me happier?” It might be having more of something good – more fun with friends, more time for a hobby. It might be having less of something bad – less yelling at your kids, less regretting what you’ve eaten. It might be fixing something that doesn’t feel right – more time spent volunteering, more time doing something to strengthen a relationship. The more your life reflects your values, the happier …

Don’t Think, Act: Life According to Buster Benson

As a system-obsessed person, I am in awe of Buster Benson. A man who was once Erik Benson and then Buster McLeod and now Buster Benson. (At least that’s as of today.) He isn’t afraid to test and retest; reinvent and rename. He doesn’t worry about it, he just does it.  And if he can’t figure out how to get it done, he’ll build an app for it. “If I have an idea, I don’t do a to-do list. I just spend a couple hours building it to see if it’s interesting to me or not,” says Benson. The former Amazon.com developer and current CTO and co-founder of Habit Labs, 35.96-year-old Benson creates apps that track “habits” and, ideally, help people tackle their big lifestyle hurdles (diet, exercise, smoking etc) that have them stuck. He estimates that he’s created about 30 of these apps to date, including seasonal food-finder Locavore; the list-making 43Things.com; the health-improving game Health Month; online “morning pages” journal, 750Words; the recently launched Gonna Try; and the burgeoning Budge. His apps are marked by intuitive and …