Cultivating Positive Habits

People lined up on Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama awaiting the first 2012 sunrise.

2012 has arrived and most people have laid out their goals and resolutions for the year.  Other than setting running goals, I’ve decided I’m going to do something a little different this year for the other areas of my life and cultivate positive habits instead of setting any concrete goals.  It is a bit of an experiment, but I picked the idea up from the Zen Habits blog.

So this year I plan to focus on cultivating 4 habits daily.

1.  Limit my time being connected online.  This has been an area I drastically need improve upon, I waste entirely too much time browsing the Internet, social networks, and fooling around with my gadgets such my iPhone and Blackberry.  I asked my wife the other night how much my iPhone was costing us and she said $100 a month!  Wow, $100 a month!  After thinking about what I was using the iPhone for, which was basically keeping up with social networks and constantly checking e-mail, I decided I wasn’t getting $100 worth of utility out of the iPhone, so I’m planning to cancel my service this week.  So this will be the first step in rationing my time being connected.  I would also like to get rid of the Blackberry, but unfortunately it is required for work.  I also want to set aside limited time frames of the day to check the Internet and once the time limit is over, turn the computer off (not just sleep mode) and do something more productive (like read a book, cook a meal, clean a room, spend quality time with wife, meditate, etc.).

2.  Focus and live in the present moment.  I want to try and tame the mind and stay in the moment.  Basically try and focus on the task or person in front of me and “be there.”  I’ve been trying to do this for years, and although I’m a little better at it, I want to have that breakthrough where it is more of a habit than forced discipline.  Too often I’m planning for some future event and daydreaming while life passes by in front of me.  Or on a Sunday I’ll be dreading the prospect of going into work Monday morning instead of just enjoying the Sunday afternoon in front of me.

3.  Distinguishing between needs versus wants.  In a consumer society, marketers are geniuses at taking our wants and making us believe they are needs.  I’m certainly not against capitalism, but I want to be maintain a conscious distinction between what are truly wants and needs.  If it is truly a need, such as food, then I have no hesitation in buying healthy and high quality food.  But if it is a want, then I need to calculate the utility of the benefits of that product to determine if it is something I want to spend money on or invest time or effort in – like I did with my iPhone.  What I’m finding is that most things in life are wants and much of it detracts from the overall quality of your life.  There is a blog post from Money Mustache that talks to the concept of hedonic adaptation which I thought was an interesting take on how quickly we adapt to pleasure and our environment.

4.  Set aside 10 minutes a day to be with God.  Most likely I’ll do this before heading off to bed.

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