My Experiments With 5 New Habits

1. Caffeine and Phone

I used to drink 2 – 3 cups of coffee a day, spread out between 10 am and 6pm. I decided to give up caffeine. It worked for 5 days. I was soon back at drinking coffee but I now restrict myself to one cup (or less) and always before 2pm. The first two weeks I felt lethargic. Things got better.

I used to sleep with the phone near my pillow. I would spend 30 minutes or more on the internet before I went to sleep, and I’d often interrupt my sleep to look up something (which is the most thunderous city in the world?). I sleep with my phone on the study table now.

These two changes made a big impact on my sleep. I no longer feel sleepless at 1am, and have no trouble waking up in the morning.

First win!

2. Journaling

I created an excel spreadsheet where I rated each day on a scale of 1 to 10, and noted the good and bad things. Journaling became mundane after a while, but I found an amazing pattern. I realized that one of the things affecting me negatively was envy, which almost exclusively came out of social media. Comparing our life’s bloopers to everyone else’s highlights – why do we do that?

I started spending much less time on social media. I don’t journal anymore.

Half-win.

3. Running and Cycling

I started the year with dodgeball, but that fell apart. I wasn’t very good at powerlifting and it always felt like a chore, so I gave that up. I took up running and finally bought a bike. The journaling exercise above also revealed that my good days usually involved solo runs or biking trips. I am not very good at it just yet, but I really hope to keep up with both: they give me a goal, something I needed very much.

Another win.

4. Meditation and Mindfulness

Probably the most important one. I have always been introspective, but my solo ruminations often felt like an unreined horse. Mindfulness gives me a set of tools to find productive answers in those ruminations.

I find myself enjoying solitude more. I feel more picky about being social. I find more inspiration in the smaller things life offers – seasons, weather, leisure time, exploring.

I used to think that I never felt anger. I do. I have a problem with bitterness, which is essentially anger gone stale. Working on that.

Here is a profound thought on bitterness from a Buddhist perspective:

Instead of trying to run away from the bitterness, sit with it. Even go so far as to think, “let me feel more bitter.” Look at the bitterness. Where is it in your body, if it manifests itself physically? Does it have a color or shape? Feel it, even if you can’t give a name to the feelings beyond just “bitterness.” Bitterness can have nuances; find them.

Keep this up and you will eventually find the bitterness is fixed around your ego. Your ego wants to feel bitter. Your ego enjoys pain. Why? Because the ego is an illusion, so in order to keep itself alive it grasps at anything that makes it feel more concrete, real, and separate from the universe. That can include both emotions that are positive on the surface (but inevitably produce dukkha- in the Tibetan tradition they’re called “changing suffering”), like sensual pleasure or love-with-attachment for another person. The ego can also pursue emotions that are negative from start to finish- like bitterness. Being bitter makes you feel like you have been “wronged,” that it’s “you” against the “world,” as if these things are inherently separate and concrete. The ego loves pain because it is pain.

So, sit with the bitterness. When you realize the bitterness is accumulating around a concept of a self (or ego), look at the self. What is it? Can you find it? In fact, you cannot. The self is a mental label that is constantly being applied to a collection of constantly-changing parts. It is like a mirage. But you cannot grab a mirage, so the ego does anything it can to make itself appear more concrete, more real, so it can grasp itself.

taken from here

Meditation isn’t a quick fix. The effects are very subtle, and I realize now that it will take months and years of disciplined practice.

Definite win!

5. Going Vegan

I have been a vegetarian for years, and was always curious about veganism. I did my research and it seemed inevitable to go full vegan. Sure, it’s hard. But we are meant to do hard things. Ships are built to weather storms, not whine in the harbour. On the downside, vegan community does have its share of pseudo-science groupthink.

Win? Time will tell.

3 thoughts on “My Experiments With 5 New Habits”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Oh Nish, I love this so much. So concise yet full to the brim of personal insights. I love your self-observations and reflections. I like the idea of rating your day and noticing patterns too. Lovely read 🙂

    1. Stephanie says:

      P.S since practicing mindfulness and meditation I also don’t journal anymore. I don’t feel the need to write so much as the meditation helps me manage my emotions I find. Maybe a full win and not a half-win 🙂

  2. Madison says:

    I’ve never heard of that method of journalling, but it is an interesting one. I’m wondering now if I should try it.
    I think I already know, though, what activities make my day better or worse. I’m quite certain I could make a list of each. My problem, instead, is finding and putting into action the motivation to actually do these things (which seems so ridiculous – if our soul knows what makes it happy, why isn’t there immediate motivation to do it?)

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