A few posts back, I talked about my “poisonous checklist.” While thinking about writing my new checklist, it became clear that in order to do that, I need to eliminate some toxic habits.
I don’t know why it’s so hard to do what you know is good for you, and why destructive behaviors are so incredibly seductive. For example, I hate thinking about exercising, and every time I know I should go to the gym, I dread going. Yet I have repeated proof that I am guaranteed to feel great after a workout. For me, exercise is the most effective anti-depressant that exists. I am well aware that I shouldn’t wander the Internet aimlessly. I waste time which I feel guilty about later, I lose sleep, and I feel worse about myself. Inevitably, I end up reading about people who look happier, smarter, richer, and more successful than me.
Below are 3 habits I’m trying to erase. This list is very specific to my current situation, so this is not applicable to everyone.
1) Stop reading about successful artists.
(I know that there are many, many different definitions of “success.” In this specific context, I am defining “successful artists” as artists who have achieved the items on my old checklist.)
I believe strongly that it’s critical to look at the works of other artists, this process has been a huge part of my artistic development. In the best case scenario, looking at other artists is inspirational and you can learn from their work. However, I do think that you can overdose on this, (which I have) and the worst case scenario is that you can become bitter and jealous. Having so much content at your fingertips can be great, but sometimes that colossal quantity of information can consume you. I’m at a point where I need to step away from the noise.
2) Stop checking my phone constantly.
I used to check my phone any time I had an idle moment, or when I was waiting, even if I knew my wait would only be a few minutes. I think for many people, the impulse to check your phone is there because people think they will be bored. On the contrary, since I’ve been letting myself just stand there, I enjoy the little things I notice: the shape of the shadows on the ground, and the mixture of random sounds I hear. After changing my behavior, I noticed that checking my phone stresses me out, and it’s rare that I’ll see something on my phone that can’t wait for later.
3) Stop telling myself that there are no other options.
I once went to a meeting where one person spent the entire meeting shooting down every idea. When suggestions were made, they talked about how that would be very difficult, or that it wasn’t possible. They didn’t make a single statement that discussed what we could do, which made for a very unproductive meeting. For the last few years, I was that person, saying these things to myself. My old checklist dictated that there was only one way to do things, so when those things didn’t work out, I told myself that there was nothing else I could do. I felt helpless and paralyzed, and my progress would come to a grinding halt. A friend of mine told me that their way of coping with their anxiety was to find an action they could take right away, no matter how small. Now that I’ve shifted my outlook, alternative actions are becoming visible.