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Freedom tastes better than coffee

Freedom tastes better than coffee

“Life itself is the proper binge” -Julia Child

I just finished reading the first chapter of a book called The Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.  It’s about making change when change is hard, as they say in the tagline.   Lots of interesting ideas.

For example, according to some psychologists, self-control is exhaustible.   This is why it’s so important to design your life in ways to support the changes you want to make, so that you don’t have to use sheer will all the time.  I remember this from quitting smoking in college.  I tried several times, but it was only once I also stopped drinking at bars or at parties (a big deal in my early twenties, I have to say) that I was able to stop for good.  I knew that it would take strength that I didn’t have to resist smoking in those situations, so I didn’t put myself in them for a whole year.

This seems related to a post I linked to last week by Gretchen Rubin about being an abstainer or a moderator.  She said some people do really well with moderation – if they want to cut down on sweets, they can set a certain number to have or only have them on special occasions.  Others seem to do better with totally abstaining – if a certain thing is just off-limits, it doesn’t take vigilance in every moment.  I can relate to this.  If I say I’m only going to have black tea every once and a while, that means every morning I have to deal with the question of whether or not to have it.  The craving kicks in and attempts to convince me – oh, it’s been a few days, you didn’t get enough sleep, it’s a cold, gray morning perfect for a cup of tea.  It seems counter-intuitive but it actually takes less willpower for me to completely cut out the tea then to just have it occasionally. It’s not that I think black tea is a bad thing.  I just notice that for me, it has an addictive quality.  I wake up, and it’s one of the first things I think of if it’s been part of my routine for awhile.  I want to wake up slowly, peacefully, remembering my dreams, meditating, writing.  Not rushing to make a cup of tea and answer email.  So cutting out the tea is a reminder to design my morning.

Lifestyle changes can seem hard, but usually what’s going on that would be helped by the change is already hard, sometimes harder!  Is choosing to go to bed an hour earlier harder than waking up at 3am every night and not being able to fall back to sleep?  Is trying out no dairy for a couple of weeks harder than never being able to breathe through your nose?  Is going for a walk every day harder than having chronic back pain?

I’m experimenting with abstaining from caffeine and added sugars for the month of October.  My goal is to feel a steadier energy level throughout the day and less mental chatter while I’m grocery shopping (I have a very annoying sugar monster that lives in my head who likes to comment as we pass the cookies and ice cream.  I’m hoping to quiet that creature way down.)

Is there something you could let go of for the rest of this month in order to bring about something positive in your life?  Is there anything that you can shift in your lifestyle that would make this change easier?

 

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