How to change an unwanted habit

This approach helped me to reduce phone usage from 300 min/day down to about 60 min/day in a month

Dear you,

Ready for another consciousness experiment? 

In Dr. David R Hawkins’ book The Map of Consciousness Explained, he explains a technique to get rid of any unwanted habit. It sounded easy so I decided to try it out.

Let’s dive in. Here’s what is needed:

  • Intention

  • A calendar

  • A couple of minutes every day for a month

What’s not needed:

  • Will power

  • Moralizing or guilt

  • Motivational videos or online courses

How it works: the Heisenberg principle in action

You’ve probably come across this principle either from Breaking Bad or quantum physics, so I’ll skip the science and cut to how it applies to us:

  • The observer has an effect on the observed

  • Therefore, to witness a thing or event is to introduce the power of consciousness which influences the outcome by virtue of itself

Or simpler still:

Our attention follows our intention.

We impact whatever we choose to focus our attention on. 

Putting it in action

So let’s first chalk up what our intention is.

Let’s say we love cookies. So much that we just can’t stop eating them. But this bothers us. So, our intention is to have fewer cookies.

Instead of beating ourselves up for lacking will-power or sticking to a diet, we do this:

At the end of each day we write down the number of cookies we ate in a calendar ✍️

Monday - 24 cookies. (Hmm)
Tuesday - 16 cookies. (Good day)
Wednesday - 29 cookies. (Bad me)
Thursday - 20 cookies… and so on

We do this every day for a month. That’s it.

What eventually happens is that our intention (to eat fewer cookies) takes over as we bring our attention to what we repeatedly do, i.e. eating cookies.

By default, our mind likes to push into ignorance or denial that which is unpleasant (about us).

In contrast, bringing our habits into conscious awareness is like shining a bright light on previously dark corners.

As we begin to see and realize what we repeatedly do–without needing self-shaming and blame–the power of awareness automatically begins to exert influence on our behaviour and impulses

After a couple of weeks, as we routinely reach for the box of cookies, a new awareness begins to show up replacing the earlier impulse. Thoughts like these may come up:

“Do I really need these 5 cookies right now? How about an apple instead?”

“What else would I rather be doing than eating right now?”

“Maybe I’ll treat myself to a couple of cookies at the end of the day…”

We won’t need to force any change in our behaviour because consciousness itself will take care of this by its intrinsic power. After a month we might just say, to hell with the cookies, I’m actually better off doing ____.

Proof of the…cookie

So, a month ago, I finally got fed up with the amount of time I was spending each day on the phone. I’m embarrassed to say that it was 30+ hours a week.

  • It affected the quality of time spent with family

  • It nurtured FOMO like nothing else. There’s always more left to read, scan, bookmark, share…

  • At the end of a phone-heavy day I felt the opposite of content

So I started noting the screen-time at the end of every day on the calendar–without judgement or stress. I have an app that tells me that, so it’s pretty effortless.

Day 1 - 5 hours (ugh)

Day 2 - 4.5 hours (nice)

Day 3 - 6.5 hours (good God!)

After doing this experiment for nearly a month, here’s a snapshot of how my daily phone usage changed:

Will I continue tracking this? Yes, because it doesn’t take more than a minute at the end of the day. Will I apply it to more unwanted habits? For sure.

Is there a habit you really want to change?

I know it sounds too good to be true, but I’m not here to sell you anything. Just set your intention, find a calendar and give it a go. I’d love to know how it works for you.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions just hit reply or leave a comment below.

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Amogh (see you on Twitter)

* The Monet painting: I like to imagine that life would be much more nourishing if I spent 30 hours a week with books instead of my phone…