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Triggers for Automated Habits

I've had a few friends who've gone through quitting smoking. The hard part, they say, is that certain things trigger wanting to smoke. Stressful situation? Time to smoke. Driving a car? Time to smoke. Drinking at a bar? Time to smoke. The reason that bad habits are so hard to quit is that we have these many triggers that start us down that path almost automatically. A compulsive eater might get into a stressful situation and have a hamburger halfway into their face before they even consciously think about whether or not they should be eating.

The silver lining of this nuance of human nature is that we can also harness triggers to create positive habits. Just as bad habits are so hard to break because of our triggers, good habits can be made resilient using the same mechanism. And just as bad habits are built slowly and incrementally, so are good habits.

I meditate for five minutes every day. As soon as I wake up, I grab my phone and press the start button on a five minute meditation timer. Waking up is my trigger. At first I had to remind myself to do the meditation every morning, but now I do it almost automatically. It would feel strange not to meditate. Just as a veteran smoker is likely to have a harder time quitting than a new smoker, the longer I keep my meditation habit, the easier it becomes to maintain.

There are two main types of triggers: contextual triggers and constant triggers. Waking up is a constant trigger, since I do it every single day and want to meditate every day. A contextual trigger is something that happens at an inconsistent frequency. For me, feeling tired during the day is a contextual trigger. Whenever that happens, I drink a glass of water, because I've found that sometimes I'm just dehydrated and not actually tired.

The Alpujarra Has Stolen my heart / la alpujarra ha robado mi corazón

On El Dulcisimo

I have to give a very special shout out to Andalusia, especially Granada, and more specifically, the Alpujarra.

This place is special. The landscape and history is as magnificent as it is beautiful. The people are straightforward and honest, generous and open. The culture, scenery, and regional specialties are plentiful.

Everyday I meet a cornucopia of interesting people, as the area attracts all walks of life; tourists, travelers, students, and foreigners. Every pueblo, villa, or ciudad seems similar at first glance and simultaneously has its own unique character that could keep you discovering new places for months!

There are so many things to do! So many interesting sights to see, beautiful streets to get lost on, scenic hikes and trails to be discovered (in Granada's own backyard), bars to cram into, tiny villages to discover...the list does not end.

There is something in the air that is contagious, because the longer you are here the more relaxed about everything you feel...whether it is being muy tranquilo about things like people running late or plans changing last minute, or being open to spontaneity and making the best out of what you have, and definitely not wasting too much time worrying. My favorite and most used word here is disfrutar - to enjoy. That has become my bottom line on many matters, and people seem to be attracted to the region for the same reason.

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