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Friday, March 28, 2014

Sandy: Creating New Healthy Habits

Creating New Habits

This is a story of habits, good and bad.  Although one should never say any habit is BAD, so let’s say great habits, and not so great habits.  My story begins this past Tuesday, my son who asked me to download a certain game on my phone became fixated on it.  He couldn’t tear himself away; he was completely sucked in to playing the game.  I won’t mention the name of the game, however you might be able to recognize it in my following description. 

Being a good mom, I needed to know what this game was about, so I sat over his shoulder and watched.  The game was about building a farm, you plant crops, feed animals, harvest, collect, sell.  I thought to myself, “Oh, I guess this isn’t so bad, at least he isn’t destroying things, killing zombies or creepers or whatever.  He is building a business!”  Isn’t it funny how we justify.
So when the kids went to bed I picked up my phone and started to play the game.  Immediately I was caught by the hook, and when I looked at the clock two and a half hours rolled by!  I didn’t want to stop!  I had the “farm” running smoothly, planting, feeding, selling, and expanding.  I was a person obsessed.  The following day, every chance I got I was back on it I did, feeding into the madness of the game. 

Even this morning, I spent an hour and a half trying to get the farm rolling.  I wanted to level up! 
I had to take a step back and really look at this, why was it so easy to fall into a habit, no an addiction to something like this?  Video games such as this one, are like a drug.  They offer you INSTANT GRATIFICATION.   You barely have to work to get ahead.  You get a great feeling of achievement! 

Going to the gym and working out takes lots of time and plenty of physical effort.  The benefits are wonderful…….in the Long Term.  There is no instant gratification.  Sure you will get a good feeling after you have worked your butt off, however, I don’t walk out of the gym immediately changed.  If I really want to make some serious changes, I have to put out an incredible and sometimes painful effort, especially when it comes to changing eating habits.  Change is an excruciating process, it makes me angry, resentful, panicky and frustrated.  I want to SEE the results of my efforts quickly, like in the “Game”.  In the game I can plant a crop of wheat and in 1 minute 23 seconds I’m already at the harvest, meanwhile I have made food for the animals, filled orders for customers, and got all the machines working to produce more, the results are almost instantaneous, using just a tiny bit of strategy.  Look what I have achieved in minutes on my couch!  (Blech, my eyes hurt, and my rear is numb from sitting.)

In the time I have already sunk into playing these silly games of false gratification, I could have written two whole chapters in my novel, taken 4 classes at the gym, and had time for tea with friends. 
I find that when we are frustrated with the world, or when we are faced with difficulties, physically and emotionally, we turn to simple things like tv, or video games, because it is a huge mind numbing distraction that temporarily relieves us from having to deal with the real situations at hand. 

If you have the same problem that I do, stand up and say “I”! You are not alone.  Think of all the productive time we have missed out on.  Take the next couple of days and really take a hard look at how much time we've wasted, write it down, then see where we can make changes to be more efficient.  I know that I, personally, could use a lot of improvement.

My strategy now is that I (like my children) will have to EARN my screen time.  Yes, I am self imposing a restriction on sitting in front of a screen (all writing aside, since that is my life).  And I will limit myself to two hours a day for this week, then scale it back further next week.  With time and patience, I will create a new habit of efficiency and real life achievements that will mean something worthwhile, unlike harvest virtual crops and feeding cartoony animals in a game that has no meaning.

Thank you for reading. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you around!  

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