This may be an odd title for a post but this is something that was on my mind for a very long time. I read non-fiction books a lot, and a big chunk that comprises this genre is the how to books: how to do this, how to do that. By now there is no shortage of good advice out there, that too psychology and research-based which can apparently change a person’s life. On top of that, we have swamiji’s posts to rely on, where he gives very practical ways to get rid of unwanted habits and to build good ones.

So why is it that despite all that there are habits which I’m not able stick to?

For example, even this year’s goal of running was started in a very pumped up manner and the goal was to go for, at least, 4 days a week. In the first two weeks, I did not complete my 4 days for any of the weeks. What exactly is it that keeps me from crossing that line and moving to the other side? 

  1. Inertia: This is something I have experienced with myself a lot. If I skip my running for one day, it’s hard to go the next day. But if I skip it for two days, it is twice as hard to go for the 3rd day, and the difficulty just keeps compounding until one day, after a week or so, I can’t take it anymore and I just go. And even in this one week of skipping the goal, my mood will be impacted. I will become more irritated because I know that the intensity is building up inside, it needs to be released somehow. Working in the IT and mostly being in front of computer, other than exercise and running, my lifestyle is very sedentary. So that is the only place where I can let go of that but still there is a status quo which is built up inside which does not want to change.
  2. Resistance to spending money on help: Yes, we have heard this before that we should invest in ourselves. At the same time, we would like to save and make some investments for the future goals. Also, spending money just to get a daily trainer for myself who will teach me mostly the same things I already know feels like an unnecessary expenditure, why can’t I just do it on my own ? Why do I require some other person to hand hold me? However, when I try to do it on my own I skip it for days, so this is a constant dilemma, spending money on this feels like an unnecessary thing to do; and when I don’t, then things are not moving at the pace I would like them to.
  3. Disturbing events and conflicts: Whenever there is a conflict in the family or office or friend circle, and if somebody has hurt me, this self-destructive and self-pity mode switches on automatically. As in, when this is how I am being treated, why would I pay attention and try to be on the top of my health? This is counterproductive. I  don’t know why I do it. The other person has already done what they wanted to do, and in a conflict, both the parties feel misunderstood (so it’s not just me). Despite that my health goals and other goals will take a hit temporarily. When we plan for things maybe we should prepare for contingencies of this kind, because even though we do not take them into account while planning things, they most inevitably happen. Perhaps I should consider one disturbing event per week and plan things accordingly. How would that work out I wonder!  Of course in an ideal world I should not have conflict with anybody ever, unfortunately it’s not an ideal world and I am no Swami. I am very average, full of flaws, and I do have conflicts from time to time.
  4. Digital media and social media: It goes without saying that in work from home screen time is increasing unnecessarily. At one point of time, I kept an app in my phone which would tell me how much time I was spending on any particular app, like YouTube, Facebook, et cetera. But when I would look at that, I’d feel so bad that I removed that tracking app altogether, instead of trying to reduce the screen time. Swamiji said in one of his posts that completely cutting off from something is easier than being detached from it, i.e., it’s easier for us to completely move away from social media then to have those accounts and use them responsibility and within a limit. I agree because even though I am not on any social media platform except for Facebook, so much of my time goes into other things like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, et cetera.

Sometimes, office is so hectic that there is a need for a release. But why does this release have to come from screen time? Ironically, when I think that I’ll only watch it for 20-25 minutes, it is very hard to stop. The geniuses sitting in Netflix and YouTube companies know exactly what they need to do to make us click from one video to the next one. There impeccable algorithm will come up with the next best thing which we are most likely to watch after watching a certain video. They are not going to just let us leave after a screen time of 20-25 minutes, that doesn’t work for them. They are far smarter than I am, so am I actually capable of fighting with them or should I move off of it completely? There is no good answer to it, because some amount of entertainment may be necessary in life and completely becoming a digital Pariah will not work as our company requires use of WhatsApp groups and it is so hard to find the middle ground. 

5. A lack of willpower: This is the hardest to admit, because we would never want to be the kind of people who do not have enough power to do the things which we want to do, and this is where cutting down comes into picture. It is easy to get psyched when somebody says we really need to keep the main thing “the main thing”, but actually doing it is another game. When it comes to implementing it, thousand other things will distract us and some of those things will actually be profitable. In my case, I had the opportunity to earn some money on the side and I thought that why should I not take it up it will only require, say, x number of hours from my schedule, and that’s not much. In these moments, it’s very hard to stay focused and not fall for the distraction, or enticing short-term things. 

I am still going to continue to try to shake off all these five, and continue to work towards my focused goals for the year. So far ,I am not doing very well. I have failed many times already. But that is not a reason to give up, and I wish everybody good luck for their New Year’s resolutions. I am sure you will do well. Take care. Stay in good health. Ciao. 

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Sonia Kataria

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