Health, fitness, communications, and everything in between!

Leave a comment

Why I don’t do things every day

It seems that reading and listening to so much of Gretchen Rubin‘s work is starting to have an impact on me. The other day I had a personal revelation about something that is true for me:

I can’t commit to doing something every day.

As soon as it occurred to me, it became so obvious. There’s something about a “streak” that for some reason makes me feel too much pressure. When I break the streak (because life happens and I often work 12-14 hour days), it feels like failure and I’ll go from doing something every day to dropping it cold turkey.

This has happened several times that I can recall:

  • exercise/going to the gym (the cycle has repeated more than once)
  • practicing French on Duolingo
  • pushup challenge (as soon as the challenge was over I stopped)
  • gratitude journalling
  • logging my water consumption in my Fitbit app
  • reading, even books that I like
  • listening to podcasts

I’m sure it’s happened other times too, but these are first ones that come to mind.

My solution to the pressure of continuing the streak

When I realized this (two weeks ago), I’d developed a new habit of flossing my teeth, and hadn’t missed a single day in 2018. But at some point, I suspected, I would accidentally fall asleep or forget to pack floss, and miss a day. If/when that happened, I didn’t want to drop the habit.

My theory was that I was putting too much pressure on not breaking the chain. So, what if I deliberately built in a break? What if, approximately once per month, I deliberately did not floss my teeth? (This may seem ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t have the same trouble with chains, but I figured if I’d already missed a few days in the year, then one accident doesn’t carry the same weight.)

I tested my theory and deliberately missed two nights of flossing. I planned for it and did it on purpose, and then when the weekend was over, I RESUMED MY HABIT! (Don’t mind the yelling. This is pretty thrilling for me.) So far, I haven’t missed another day – but I will be scheduling days to miss on purpose.

The importance of knowing yourself

If I hadn’t heard Gretchen Rubin say so many times that what works for one person may not work for another, or you have to know yourself, or that one solution doesn’t work for everyone, I may not have ever considered this solution. I might have thought I just wasn’t good at building habits, or that it’s because I’m an Obliger. But it seems like neither of these is the full answer. I think it could have something to do with Obliger Rebellion as a defence of committing to too many things on a daily basis, but I’m not sure.

This solution definitely needs more testing, but if it keeps working, I’m very optimistic. And I’ll continue my new habit of approaching universal advice with caution. “5 things everyone must do for a productive morning” might work for some, but who knows? It might not work for me. And I’m the one who’s responsible to figure that out.


Leave a comment

Review: 50/50

Watching 50/50 reminded me of Silver Linings Playbook in a lot of ways. Set in a nonspecific present, it follows the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a young man dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. After a doctor with terrible bedside manner gives him the bad news, he goes home and learns online that his rare type of cancer has a 50% chance of survival.

Like SLP, 50/50 isn’t really a story about a quest that forces a character to chase after something. Instead, it’s more of a snapshot of a particular time in the character’s life. Adam must undergo chemotherapy treatment; he shaves his head; he attends therapy with a new resident therapist (Anna Kendrick); he hangs out with his best friend (Seth Rogan). The people in his life matter, and he learns about them through being sick himself: his girlfriend, his best friend, his mother. He meets some new people along the way. And it seems like none of them are particularly remarkable, but together they form Adam’s support system and help him as he makes his way through each day.

I must make specific note of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance in this film: as a viewer I felt so strongly for Adam. Of course I wanted him to get better, but I also wanted him to get his ‘smaller’ wins: connect with his mother. Break up with his girlfriend. Even having a breakdown felt like a win after his character went for weeks feeling numb. He left room for the viewer to feel.

Actually, the whole film was crafted in a way that leaves room for the viewer to think and feel and empathize and sympathize and wonder. And at the end, Adam was different than when it started. Strangely, he was also the same. The change happened so quietly you hardly notice, but it’s definitely there.

Subtle, yet powerful. Good movie.