How Habit Change Can Give You A Calmer Inbox

photo-8-For those who spend any time with me these days, you know that I'm a bit obsessed with the science of habits. As I create my own health coaching business, I need to look very honestly at why people know what is good for themselves and still choose to do other things. I'm finding that it all comes down to our ingrained harmful habits and creating easeful ways to shift them into new, helpful habits. To practice, T'm getting to work with an amazing and frustrating subject--myself!

Over the past year, I've shifted some habits quite beautifully. Now, I get up before the sun rises each morning and eat dinner before it goes down. I've cut way down on sugar, meat, dairy, and grain and love eating a mostly plant-based diet. I start my mornings with meditation or journaling, which is everything to me.

Other habits have been harder to implement but they are starting to take hold. After struggling for months with the fear of being old spinster lady, I'm in bed by 930/10pm most nights of the week and have to admit that the results are awesome. I have way more energy during the day to interact with the world and still feel like my vital 32 year-old self.

And alas, there are some habits that I will work with for a while longer. Every time I drink a cup of coffee and feel the jitteriness take hold in my nervous system, I swear it's the last time. But the problem is that I love everything else about it, even though I know it's not good for me. I write this having just finished a cup of coffee and feel okay to dance with that one a bit longer.

A habit that I've also struggled with is how I maintain my email inbox. for a long time, every time I was sent something to read that looked awesome, I would star it to read later. The problem was that later time never came. I would let those emails pile up and eventually have to delete them all without reading them. Hopes of avoiding dooming these emails to stardom, I would often try to read something quickly on my iPhone--sometimes at stoplights. But obviously this was not effective for enjoying the process and learning from the words.

So the new habit I'm working on is giving myself 1-2 hours during the weekend to just read from my inbox. My Sunday morning schedule has been to go jogging with Poncho, shower, eat a solid breakfast, and make a warm drink (yeah sometimes coffee). Then I sit in a comfy spot with no pressures on my time.

It's a win-win new habit. During my week, every time I'm sent a big email, I just star it and feel totally relaxed that I'll get to it. Plus now, during my reading time, it feels totally decadent and educational. During yesterday's reading session, I pulled out a few quotes from the brilliance that gets sent directly to my inbox so you can share in the fruits of this new habit too.

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"Look around. Outside of the natural world, everything you see has been thought of by a human, designed by a human, or made by a human. Spectacular, no? We never meet the majority of people who touch our lives, but knowing that almost every part of our day is possible because of what another human being dreamt up is totally breathtaking." -- Dr. Danielle Dowling

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"When you look at someone who has achieved something you aspire to, it is easy to assume they have always been there or were destined to get there eventually. But this is almost never true. Instead, it typically means that they started before you, and are therefore further along on the journey. I gave up dieting in 2007 and have been slowly but steadily optimizing my healthstyle ever since. I don’t have any magical abilities, I’ve just been working at it for a long time and continue to improve every year." -- Darya Rose

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"The greatest thing about love, I believe, is that it’s the most democratic of human experiences. Anybody can do it, and just about everybody does it (with the exception of sociopaths). What some of us forget to value or recognize is that even if we aren’t doing it in a romantic way, we’re doing it in other ways—and doing it well." -- Leigh Newman

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"The truth is, you're free. You're free to work hard or slack off. You're free to abandon your children or take tender care of them. You're free to buy a weapon and do something terrible, or tell the truth and do something brave.

The truth is, you can do whatever the hell you want.

The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can make choices that really line up with what you want and what you value.

What's interesting is that when you switch your language, suddenly some of the things that you used to tell yourself you 'had' to do won't seem as onerous. You'll realize that you're freely choosing to do them because you like the result you get, even if you don't enjoy the process very much. " -- Anna Kunnecke

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"Try to imagine what it would be like to live without any conditioning at all. You might feel the way an alien creature, raised in another universe, might feel if he was suddenly dropped onto Earth. Everything would be a wonder. A mouse running out from the bedroom would be a wonder. And if I’m honest, I did experience excitement and joy, along with nervousness, when I saw the mouse this morning. Had I been conditioned differently, I might have believed that a mouse in one’s room indicates good luck for the next year, or that I will come into a lot of money. Who knows!

With mindful eyes, I can see that a small beige creature moving along the floor is just a small beige creature moving along the floor. In that moment, she has the potential to be anything or do anything because she is not limited by my mind’s labels and categories. Maybe she will stop, turn around, and tell me about her most recent trip to the moon. Just because it hasn’t happened before, doesn’t mean it can’t happen, just that it hasn’t happened yet." -- Annie Mahon

 
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"Because I write both poetry and fiction, and have never built a wall between the two, my desire has always been to blur the line between the more established forms. Writers who do this well tend to fascinate me. But they’re rare, I think, in part because of the way poetry gets overlooked in American culture. Poetry is basic to human beings, our love for it is deeply embedded in us, but there’s the sense at this moment that most people get it from other genres—popular song, hip-hop, rap. People argue about this—someone once told Paul Simon that he wrote poetic lyrics, and he said, “No, poetry is Wallace Stevens”—and yet songwriters like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and some hip-hop artists doclearly channel elements of poetry. In fiction, though, the poetic impulse is usually relegated to the end of the story, in the epiphanic moment we’ve come to expect since Joyce. At the end of a typical epiphany story, you do sense this sudden gearshift from the narrative to the lyrical; you start to feel that poetry is suddenly at work within the prose. But it’s usually because something big has happened that generates and justifies the gear change—poetry is warranted in these moments of extreme emotion, but otherwise its regulated to the sidelines of much of American fiction." -- Stuart Dybek

 
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"I don’t make up marvelous tales. I only try to express — as clearly as possible — the thoughts and feelings many people have. Often my subjects are the simplest things in the world: joy, family, the weather, houses, streets. Nothing fancy. And when I sit down with these subjects my aim is clarity. I’m really trying to clear some of the muddle from my own brain — my brain being a very muddled place indeed. Sometimes I think my whole professional life has been based on this hunch I had, early on, that many people feel just as muddled as I do, and might be happy to tag along with me on this search for clarity, for precision." -- Zadie Smith, please read her whole speech on storytelling, so wonderful.