Return to habits and happiness

We humans – such beautiful creatures of habit! Sometimes that seems for the good, though often for the worse.

After 2 years of rolling about on a bicycle I had forgotten how much my life is plagued by destructive habits and addictions. For a little while there, I thought I’d even cracked it.

No, I’m not even close!

Same old, same old

I’ve been living in a sturdy house for 3 weeks and already some familiar patterns have re-surfaced. The late night use of the internet, watching inane videos and obsessively checking for messages. Eating when I don’t need to – the oily, salty, sugary stuff. And then there is the scratching, the fucking scratching!

They never did serve. Not in the long run. And they never will. How could they? Those habits are meeting some sort of need at the moment of indulgence. My desperate attempt to self-sooth. It’s clear what’s going on. I’ll even habitually give myself a hard time about it late at the evening, and then do it all again the next day.

Awareness and compassion

There is too much self-directed frustration and anger about this. That’s not helpful. I’m not to blame. I am human. This is how I cope and it is OK. My awareness has to be the starting point. And then follows compassion as I recognise how most of these habits and addictions came about in the first place. From circumstances in life where my deepest human needs went chronically unfulfilled and had me reaching for whatever was easily available to distract myself.

Life is better now. Circumstances mostly beautiful. I have a better idea as to what nourishes me and what doesn’t.

Yet, the temptations are still pervasive – even out in the delightful countryside where nature cradles me a little more. At least there are no shops around the corner and bright flashing neon signs to tempt me in after a hard day navigating through concrete.

Though, looking at this screen, there is always something popping up. It is like my mind has been read. My need to self-soothe anticipated. That’s just business, and that’s been happening for years, hardly noticeable, not to my conscious mind. Can’t I be encouraged to look after myself a little better rather than tempted to not?

Protecting my space

In my old flat we had no internet. That helped.

I couldn’t help myself the other day when faced with a spread of biscuits and cakes. They went well with the tea, just like they always did. One after another. Very comforting. Nostalgic even. But then my belly began to hurt. I hadn’t done this in a while. Then I suddenly remembered, from before I began my cycle journey, that one of the most beneficial things about being vegan back then was that I ate less biscuits and cakes.

I am back to being vegan, I am ditching my smart phone, I have torn up and deleted the access code I had been given for Netflix. I have to protect my space and create self-serving habits. I wish I didn’t have to be so guarded.

Sometimes I have to self-impose restrictions. Across the years it has helped me cope with various addictions. Though, I find it sad that I am unable to have a healthy relationship with many of what could be delightful things, if only I was able to use moderately. There could be real joy. I’m not going to blame myself.  What to do when so much has been designed with addictive and habit forming elements? Though I will take responsibility to act now I have awareness.

Temptations to cycle

Life on a bicycle for the last 2 years was naturally restrictive. Not much to do late at night but look at the beauty out there in some wilderness, a different one each night, and feel at peace with most of it. The constant moving around, not long enough to see a habit stick, and become frustrated. Each day different. Often I’d run into a fellow human soul who needs a depth of connection just as I needed it. My needs better met through life on a bicycle and temptations far fewer.

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The final spot – natural habits

Though, all that travel can get to be a little bit moreish too, can’t it? Temporarily abstracted away from too much distress. Temptations to be back on the bicycle loom large. Away from here and the habits. I can see I’d just be trying to escape myself were I to do it.

My soul has ached for a long while to come back and take a look at the stable self. I learnt lots on my travels. I saw myself more clearly. Yet, now is the time to integrate and find a better way of meeting deep needs and feeling nourished in the society I once left behind. Maybe even shaping society a little so that others can be a bit better nourished too. Here’s to looking inward and reaching meaningfully out.

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If only it were that easy! Though perhaps it would be if there wasn’t so much energy coming from outside to maintain that habit

 

4 comments

  1. So true, it can be difficult to quit seductive value-wasting & harmful habits, particularly when they are not immediately obviously so. Imperfectly, I try to quit them by replacing them with habits that are more value discovering/creating – more thoughtful podcasts less TV, more TEDx less NetFlix, more conversation less consumption – and sometimes I am successful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reassuring to here it resonates Dorian. Useful tips. I think conversation over consumption is perfect. More public spaces for conversation where consumption is not obligatory would be nice. This was a nice one to write and as it turns out quite helpful in getting personal perspective.

      Like

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