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Thinking About How You'll Feel to Survive Impulses

I just finished up a 12 hour workday. I got a lot of stuff done, took only the bare minimum in breaks, etc. All I wanted to do afterwards was watch Elementary, a modern Sherlock Holmes show. Somehow my "no new shows" rule gets bypassed for new shows about Sherlock Holmes, and I've been enjoying this one.

Last week I watched Elementary. I noticed that while I was watching, I was also doing other stuff on my computer-- organizing files, cleaning up email, checking things online. The anticipation of watching the show was extraordinary, but the actual experience didn't measure up. It was enjoyable, relaxing, stimulating, etc, but not as great as I expect it to be.

As I've written about before, I'm one of those people who has pretty poor impulse control. That's why I give myself so many black and white rules that Absolutely Cannot Be Broken. If my impulses see a crack in my resolve, they push through it. Being someone with poor impulse control is a really bad thing, too; the habit is correlated with less success in pretty much every area.

You'll notice, though, that I'm not watching Elementary right now. Instead I'm writing a blog post. For someone as prone to impulse as I am, it's important to rely on tricks while simultaneously buliding up resistance to impulse over the long term.

How do you know you're solving the right problem?

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

Another good question. I'm paraphrasing here, it was something like, "How do you know you're fixing the right problem if things seem wrong? In relation to habit change, improvement, changing moods - how do you know you're solving the right thing?"

My answer -

Well, I think the first thing worth saying is that most people don't fix most of their problems. I don't say that as a pessimist - they could fix their problems. But they don't. Most people don't change much after their early youth is over. If they overeat, they overeat their whole life. If they're an alcoholic, they're an alcoholic their whole life. If they work at some shitty job they hate, they work there their whole life.

I say this just to give you an idea of how hard it can be. In my experience, it takes me a lot longer than I want it to to change fundamental aspects of my character and habits. Oftentimes, it takes 6+ months of regular focus on it, if the old habit was burned in a lot. That sucks and it's hard, which is why most people don't change.

I think fundamentals are typically the way forwards. When feeling low, unproductive, frustrated, annoyed, angry, whatever - typically, the answer is fundamental stuff. Eat right, stretch, breathe, get into motion with some exercise or at least some walking, spend time in nature, spend time around people you respect, read good books, get on a normal healthy sleep schedule, take vitamins, clean up the area around you, things like that. Wash all the clothing, clean up computer/email files, shave (for a guy)/cut fingernails/cut toenails. If in a country where it's inexpensive, go get a massage. Go sit in a quiet cafe or on a beach and fully relax if very tired. Do planning/goal-setting type stuff in a notebook.

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