Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Day Off

A scheduled day off work; time in which to get chores done, run errands, put your feet up and relax. Today ran like this: out of bed, cup of hot water with lemon, checked emails and chose a couple of lines from one of the Japanese junk emails to translate for practice, cup of black coffee as a treat, into town to deposit £6 of change into the bank then to M&S to change a 5 Euro note into sterling (got over £4 and was pleased with that) then did the usual food shopping at Tesco, went home and had something to eat while starting the job-hunt marathon.

Checked job websites of Plymouth Uni, Exeter Uni, Plymouth City Council, Exeter City Council, Devon County Council, Peninsula Medical School, Met Office, the NHS, the Academic jobs website, a library jobs website, did searches based in Exeter, Plymouth and London on, then checked the jobs pages on the websites of every University and Borough Council in London. Found one job worth applying for and the closing date is April 13th so I'm happy to wait until tomorrow evening to fill that in and send it off.

Later in the afternoon I did some more Japanese (3 lines from an advertising email takes up a page of A4 when written out with spaces for translation and generally takes over an hour to do), cooked dinner (and therefore tomorrow's lunch) and decided I'm too tired to go to tonight's beginners Taiji and want an early night as I get up at 5 tomorrow to get into work for 7.

Meanwhile, spent the day listening to Marilyn Manson, Tori Amos and now NIN. Just finishing off re-reading Marilyn Manson's autobiography (the Neil Strauss version from 1998) and found the following phrase highly amusing: Anyone I may have used should feel happy that they even had a use. It's better than being useless.

I feel pretty useless right now. I don't suppose to listening to Trent Reznor repeat the lines “Every day is exactly the same” is helping much but I like the song too much to skip over it. And tomorrow should be better.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Habit (re)forming – a positive twist

The first step in solving a problem is being aware that there is a problem - pure common sense. But suppose you're unwittingly hiding a problem from your awareness – how're you going to solve it?

To explain: suppose you have a bad habit you're trying to get rid of, whether it's picking your nose, staring at someone's cleavage, standing/sitting with bad posture, automatically feeling defensive when you see a group of teenagers getting on your bus, whatever. If your automatic reaction to realising you're doing it again is to get annoyed with yourself you'll probably never ditch the habit.

Why? The mind has a lot of self-protection mechanisms built in so whenever it encounters a 'threat' to its (your) happiness/well-being it tries to stop that threat from recurring. If each time you realise you're doing the 'wrong' thing your reaction is “SHIT, I'm STILL doing that!” your mind will say to itself “Hmm, whenever I notice myself doing that thing I get upset, so I'd better stop noticing it as that means I won't get upset.” and you're then less likely to be aware of the habit. If your subconscious is deliberately keeping things below the radar of the conscious there's nothing you can do to improve the situation.

The trick to solving the problem is this: when you notice you're picking your nose, staring at the woman's boobs, slouching, etc., instead of going “Shit! I'm doing it again!”, you should train yourself to say “Good! I've noticed I'm doing that again – now I can stop doing it!”. You're rewarding yourself for increasing your awareness of the action because without awareness of the action you can't do anything to correct it. The idea is to set up a positive feedback spiral where your mind actively wants to be aware of these habits - then you can do something about them. If you can do this consistently you will over time replace bad old habits with good new ones.

One pitfall to look out for is this: at times you'll feel as though you're doing the wrong thing a lot more than ever before and you'll feel disheartened because it seems you're getting worse rather than better. You're not getting worse; you're improving your awareness of the problem so you're getting a clearer picture of it – it's one of the milestones on the way to eradicating the habit so it's something you should be pleased about! As with anything useful this takes work, so keep at it and don't beat yourself up about the times when you slip back a bit.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Bike Ride

Around 17 miles of steep hills in bright sunshine at around 3 degrees celsius. Took around 80 minutes in total and was tough enough I just want to sleep now.


You know when you're cycling up a hill so long and steep that your throat is full of phlegm but you don't dare hawk it up in case the tension on your diaphragm makes you spew? Me too.