zenhabits: Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal by Leo Babauta
Changing habits, at its core, is simply a process of changing what’s normal for you.
This is something I’ve done myself a gajillion times over the last 7-8 years:
not smoking became my new normal (lots of pain for a month or so)
running became normal
eating vegetarian became normal
later eating vegan became normal
writing every day became normal
not having sugar in my coffee became normal
eating whole foods (instead of junk foods) became normal
meditating every morning became normal
having less stuff and a simpler home became my new normal
reducing and eventually (mostly) eliminating sugar became normal
and so on: no car, walk and ride mass transit, do less, becoming content with myself, working for myself, etc.
In fact, you could say the last 8 years of my life has been a constant adjusting of what’s normal. Adjusting normal is my normal now.
However, for most people, changing is tough because there’s some pain in changing. When you have a problem, there is the pain it causes in your life, but there’s also a pain of trying to change it. When the payoff of trying to change is outweighed by the pay off of continuing the old way, people stick with what they’re comfortable with.
How do we overcome this problem of the pain of change? It’s the mantra of this site: Start small, start with one thing at a time, and make the change easier. You want to make changing the path of least resistance, because change usually isn’t for most people.
If you make a drastic change, it feels really hard and really different, and not something you can stick to for very long.
But when you make a change easier, it makes it easier to take that all-important first step. Once you take that first step, you have a bit of forward momentum. And it’s much easier to be consistent and stick with something for a long time.
Let’s take an example: I used to drink coffee with lots of added sugar. I used to think there was nothing wrong with that, but eventually I realized I was making an excuse for putting crap in my body. So I started by putting half a teaspoon less in my coffee. At first, it was slightly less good. But after a few days, it taste exactly like normal, like what I was used to. And then I took out another half a teaspoon, and it was slightly less good for a while, and then after a while it was exactly what I was used to.
Our minds tend to adjust over time. That’s my change process — I gradually adjust what’s normal to me. Eventually I didn’t need any sugar in my coffee, and it was just as good for me, I didn’t have all that crap, and I enjoyed it the same.
You can do this with anything — exercise, meditation, procrastination. Gradually adjust what feels like normal to you.
Here’s the process:
Start small. What’s the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5.
Get started. Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion.
Enjoy the change. Don’t look at this as a sacrifice. It’s fun, it’s learning, it’s a challenge.
Stick to the change. Notice your urge to quit. Don’t act on it. Keep going.
Adjust again. When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment.
This is the process of creating a new normal. It’s beautiful and simple.
Tens of millions of Americans, including 12 percent to 15 percent of schoolchildren, have permanent hearing damage caused by everyday noise--
What Causes Hearing Loss - NYTimes.com: ". . . We are born with a fixed number of hair cells; once they are dead, they cannot be replaced, and auditory sensitivity is permanently lost. Usually, sensitivity to high-frequency sounds is first to go, followed by an inability to hear the frequencies of speech. Furthermore, the effects of noise exposure are cumulative, as Robert V. Harrison, an auditory specialist at the University of Toronto, noted recently in The International Journal of Pediatrics. Although we start out with a redundancy of hair cells, with repeated noisy insults, enough are destroyed to impair hearing. Thus, damage to hair cells incurred early in life, as has happened to many rock musicians and rock concert aficionados, can show up in midlife as difficulty understanding speech. Sound volume is measured in decibels (dB), and the level at which noise can cause permanent hearing loss begins at about 85 dB, typical of a hair dryer, food processor or kitchen blender. . . ." (read more at link above)
Doctor's Orders: 20 Minutes of Meditation Twice a Day - WSJ.com: video "At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, doctor's orders can include an unlikely prescription: meditation. "I recommend five minutes, twice a day, and then gradually increase," said Aditi Nerurkar, a primary-care doctor and assistant medical director of the Cheng & Tsui Center for Integrative Care, which offers alternative medical treatment at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. "It's basically the same way I prescribe medicine. I don't start you on a high dose right away." She recommends that patients eventually work up to about 20 minutes of meditating, twice a day, for conditions including insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome. . . ."
Fit for life: 69-year-old man competes in Miami-Dade lifeguard test - Miami Beach - MiamiHerald.com: "Dr. Ralph Sacco, chairman of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and past president of the American Heart Association, said Fogel’s life of physical activity is a model for all to follow. “It sounds like he has the body of a 55-year-old or younger,” said Dr. Sacco, adding it’s important to start a healthy lifestyle when you’re young because it’s hard for people to change longtime behaviors. Regular, aerobic exercise also helps reduce the risk of memory loss because it minimizes blockages and improves blood flow in the brain, Sacco said. Fogel said he practices tai chi and Tae Kwon Do and eats chia and hemp seeds for energy."
Red Meat May Cause Heart Disease by Disrupting Gut Bacteria | Wired Science | Wired.com: "“When you measure things in people’s blood, you don’t think of [them] as coming from bacteria,” Hazen says, but in this case that appears to be what’s happening. The finding is the latest in a series of studies that have shown that the population of bacteria in our guts—collectively known as the gut microbiome—can influence everything from weight loss to brain chemistry."
Boomers Push Doctor-Assisted Dying in End-of-Life Revolt - Bloomberg: " . . .In states across the country, including New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, graying baby boomers have been lobbying lawmakers in recent months at hearings, in letters and by phone, pushing to make it legal for doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. Advocates and opponents say there is more support this year than in past attempts with five states considering such legislation. . . ."
The Human Touch Amid Big Data Medicine - Review of ‘When Doctors Don’t Listen’ - NYTimes.com: "“When Doctors Don’t Listen” is a manifesto motivated by very active imaginations, not that this necessarily diminishes the book’s importance.
The authors, both emergency room physicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, do a fine job of sorting through most of the serious problems in American medicine today, including the costs, overtesting, overprescribing, overlitigation and general depersonalization. All are caused at least in part, they argue, by the increasing use of algorithms in medical care. . . ." (read more at link above)
Eating high-fiber foods may provide protection against stroke, a new analysis of research suggests. (source, infra)
Prevention: Fiber May Reduce Stroke Risk - NYTimes.com: "Eating high-fiber foods may protect against stroke, a new analysis of research suggests. The data, pooled from eight observational studies, all with at least three years of follow-up, indicated that each seven-gram increase in daily fiber intake reduced the risk of a first stroke by about 7 percent. The findings were published in the journal Stroke. Water soluble fiber — the kind found in beans, nuts and other foods — reduced the risk substantially, and insoluble fiber and cereal fiber reduced it slightly. . . ." (read more at link above)
Treating sleep apnea with positive airway pressure helps to lower systemic inflammation, which might prevent some of the other problems associated with the disorder. (source, infra)
Really? Treating Sleep Apnea Reduces Inflammation - NYTimes.com: "Doctors have plenty of good reasons to persuade people with sleep apnea to get it treated. The widespread disorder causes disruptions in breathing at night, which can ruin sleep and raise the likelihood of problems like obesity and fatigue. The standard treatment for the condition, a mask worn at night that delivers continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, significantly improves apnea, even though many people don’t like to wear it. But the mask may do more than restore normal breathing at night. Some research suggests it reduces inflammation, benefiting overall health. . . " (read more at link above)
Esther Dyson: 'They personalise my adverts -- why not my medicine?' (Wired UK): ". . . . "Most drugs are not totally effective for most of the population," said Dyson. "They're about 100 percent effective for 30 percent of the population and probably toxic for 20 percent. But if you know the genetics, drugs are going to be much better for the population."
Five years from now, she argued, you won't take serious medicine without knowing it'll work for you. We will have moved away from trying and taking and hoping it will work -- "currently," pointed out Dyson, "I get the same dose of a drug as 500 pound guy".
To fill the gap, before everyone starts getting drugs tailored to their genome, Dyson is looking to invest in innovative healthcare products based on data collection. . . ." (read more at the link above)