Competing commitments

You have some “bad” habit you want to get rid of, or some new “good” habit or goal you want to undertake. However, there are only 24 hours in the day — and you are already using them all! I keep getting stuck on how powerful this idea is, at least for me. You are always and already using all of your time. To do something new, you have to give something up. Also, our capacity for reason is incredibly limited. Our habitual actions form over years of conditioning (classical and operant). Most of the behaviors that have stuck around are doing something for you. They are rewarding you, somehow. Sometimes it’s for eating high-density energy stores (junk food counts). Sometimes you create a plausible social excuse for failing at something, thereby allowing you to maintain your identity (changing that is hard).

We rarely have any idea why we do what we do. When you consciously try to replace an action that you’ve reasoned to be “bad” without a strong sense of what it’s doing for you, it’s quite likely to laugh at you.


Also published on Medium.

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