If you are looking to kick your iPhone habit before bed, I have a very very passionate recommendation that will solve this issue for you in an enjoyable way. If you are wondering why the hell I have a picture of grass here, read on. This question will be solved for you pretty quickly here.
When we try to change our habits and enact behavioural change, you cannot simply say “no, I am not going to do that” or take the deprivation mindset. True habit change has to involve a reward mindset and the only way you can do that, is by replacing the habit with something that gives you the same type of reward.
This idea is beautifully laid out by Charles Duhigg in his book, the Power of Habit (one of my favourite all time reads and it has changed my life immeasurablyy)
but here is the gist of it in one simple image.
Willpower doesn’t break a habit.
If you are simply saying to yourself “no, I won’t go on my iPhone tonight” you are simply using sheer willpower to try not to go into your habit loop (which is so entrenched in your brain that it is subconscious to some degree and difficult to consciously control.)
If you are facing off with willpower against a bad habit, willpower will always lose.
Willpower occurs in a different and newer part of the brain. It is weaker than habit, which takes place in the older part of the brain which is much more powerful and subconscious.
The key to breaking a “bad habit” is creating a new “good habit” in its place, that activates the same powerful cue-routine-reward loop.
By installing a new “good habit” in your old, unconscious brain, it will make room for it and kick the old “bad habit” out.
True habit change can also only take place if we feel like the new habit is appealing, and trust me, this one tool I am going to tell you about below IS.
While I was traveling, I came upon a tiny book store on the Canadian west coast island of Salt Spring. As I searched among the shelves for something that would catch my attention, I came across a hardcover journal with beautiful watercolour lettering, quotes and images.
As a journalling fan (I tend to free journal – no rhyme or reason to my entries) I was enraptured with this one particular journal, produced by Studio Oh.
This journal that you see below, is filled with introspective questions and prompts. Each evening during my second maternity leave, instead of going on my iPhone, I would flip to a page at random and answer the questions or fill out whatever section appeared.
The questions and prompts are wide-ranging and powerful, and you learn so much about yourself in the process of doing these entries. Instead of surfing the web or feeling anxious looking at social media, I was soon reflecting upon happy moments from my life, the rewards that particular friendships gave me, or favourite places.
The key to happiness is having a true appreciation for what you have right now.
I fully believe that one of the harder things for us humans to do, is realize how good we have it now, and that happiness is here, right now. We always tend to think that happiness is just over the horizon once we do x, or complete y.
There is incredible research on the practice of gratitude, journalling and consciously (and intentionally) reflecting on different facets of your life in a positive way.
At the end of this journal I can truly say that my inner landscape was deeper and richer for it.
We go to the gym to spend one hour cultivating the landscape of our bodies… well, with this journal, it’s the same thing. By spending 10 minutes or an hour responding to the questions or prompts, you are cultivating your inner world. The benefits of this journal happen when you are not journalling, because it strengthens the positivity muscle. You find yourself spending your days seeing the good in things and feeling happy with right now, rather than focusing on what is missing.
That, friends, is happiness.
Especially on maternity leave. How many times do you hear mothers say “I wish I could go back and really enjoy what I had.”
When my mum passed away, I inherited her journals, but sadly, they are simply date keeping records. There are a thousand questions I want to ask her now about my own childhood, and her own process of becoming a mother and how she was so incredibly happy and in love with life.
With this journal, my daughter will be able to take a peek into my inner world, and those things that I hold most dear to my heart and see that this practice is exactly how you get to happiness, but realizing it is right here, right now.
I truly cannot recommend these enough. If I was well off, I would honestly keep a shelf of these on hand and give them to every single one of my friends (I don’t feel that way about any other book.)
My memories are richer and my sense of self and purpose is clarified after undertaking this journal, answering one or two pages in the evening before retiring to bed.
Completing this journal on my second maternity leave will be one of my fondest memories, and I can tell you that my sleep as a result of doing this journal has greatly improved, and my outlook on life is better than ever. I don’t ever say “I wish I could go back” because with the practice of this journal, I was able to truly relish the moments I was in, as time flew by in those beautiful baby days.
Probably one of the best $20 purchases I have ever made.