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This Blog used to be about the question: What is Science?
Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How do nuns get habits?

What connects these 2 images?

I have always been fascinated by nuns' habits. What are they? No nooky? Wearing all the same all the time (except if you want to be a little sexy then you have a blue stripe on it). My pivotal experience with nuns was on a trip up to a Francescan Mission Hospital in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. En route, my friend and rural health afficionado, Steve Reid, stopped at a liquor store and stocked up with a crate of beers.....for the nuns. Well, blow me down if we didn't hit the bottle with a few of the girls when we arrived. Seems like this is an old Francescan nuns' habit. In this case, an inherited habit, from generations of beer swilling and brewing Francescans before them. No wonder, St Francis got on so well with animals - being mildly inebriated tends to bring out the cuddly in one.
But now, harking back to my previous blog on Digital Aging...if I see myself as a digital multimedia production I can then start to play with my coding. Sort of eradicate the bad stuff and promote the good. Now, like most other good ideas that seem to pop un spontaneously this is nothing new. In fact research (what researchI ask! Where are the references? Patience! I will find them later!) shows that it only takes 21 days of repeated action to ingrain a habit.
I read this story today on the following website:

My name is Rubén Loza; for years and years I have been travelling throughout the entire territory of the ARGENTINE REPUBLIC, enjoying the wonderful sensation of freedom that I feel when riding my faithfull and sofisticated metal horse through magnificent landscapes; regarding me sometimes as a pioneer in those beautiful places.
I started by making weekend journeys between 200 and 400 kms with friends within the province where I live, Mendoza. Later on, those journeys began extending in time and place; now the distances travelled were of 800 and 1500 kms, and the destinations were neighbouring provinces and, at times, the other side of the Cordillera de Los Andes, Chile.
All of a sudden, I found myself travelling at any time and to anywhere, with one or more friends; I would just prepare my motor cycle, the necessary things for camping and the camera.
And it came the day in which, after a casual meeting with two Swiss motorcyclists in the Uspallata valley (that is situated at 100 kms from the frontier between Chile and Argentina), I decided to organize motorcycle trips for tourists.
Always taking the Uspallata valley as reference, joining it to the northernmost point of Argentina, La Quiaca, or to the southernmost city of the world, Ushuaia; making our natural paradise known and making contact with aboriginal inhabitants of different cultures of the Argentine territory. -Rubén Loza-

I felt no small connection with the author. Over the last weeks I have been religiously riding my bicycle at least an hour a day. Whilst I am certainly attaining a level of fitness, the main reason is to get myself back into the habit of wanting to ride every day. I am hoping to arrive in Washington next week and be itching to get to the first bike shop so I can ride ride ride. Already the responses have kicked in. As my work load got a little tighter I have found that I needed to ride at night which, in Durban, is a huge amount of fun. It means you can ride through some pretty hairy areas where you would normally not walk as (hopefully) by the time you've rattled and sped past the thought of mugging you is no longer attainable. Who said it was better to stay indoors at night? Not me, Not me!
That's it, can't think of anything more to say.


With a small amount of initial discipline, you can create a new habit that requires little effort to maintain. Here are some tips for creating new habits and making them stick:
1. Commit to Thirty Days - Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.2. Make it Daily - Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.
3. Start Simple - Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If you wanted to study two hours a day, first make the habit to go for thirty minutes and build on that.
4. Remind Yourself - Around two weeks into your commitment it can be easy to forget. Place reminders to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss time it defeats the purpose of setting a habit to begin with.
5. Stay Consistent - The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try going at the same time, to the same place for your thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.
6. Get a Buddy - Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.
7. Form a Trigger - A trigger is a ritual you use right before executing your habit. If you wanted to wake up earlier, this could mean waking up in exactly the same way each morning. If you wanted to quit smoking you could practice snapping your fingers each time you felt the urge to pick up a cigarette.
8. Replace Lost Needs - If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need.
9. Be Imperfect - Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It took me four independent tries before I started exercising regularly. Now I love it. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.
10. Use "But" - A prominent habit changing therapist once told me this great technique for changing bad thought patterns. When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word "but" to interrupt it. "I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later."
11. Remove Temptation - Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.
12. Associate With Role Models - Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. A recent study found that having an obese friend indicated you were more likely to become fat. You become what you spend time around.
13. Run it as an Experiment - Withhold judgment until after a month has past and use it as an experiment in behavior. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so it will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.
14. Swish - A technique from NLP. Visualize yourself performing the bad habit. Next visualize yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. See yourself picking up the cigarette, see yourself putting it down and snapping your fingers, finally visualize yourself running and breathing free. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.
15. Write it Down - A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.
16. Know the Benefits - Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making a change. Get books that show the benefits of regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet. Imagine getting better grades after improving your study habits.
17. Know the Pain - You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.
18. Do it For Yourself - Don’t worry about all the things you "should" have as habits. Instead tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Weak guilt and empty resolutions aren’t enough.

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