Archive for September, 2012

Change your habits, change your life.

Every morning, I have an egg in a hole.

That’s a wholesome breakfast food, friend. Cut a hole in a slice of bread, slap it down on a cast iron skillet sizzling with butter, and fry an egg in the hole.  Fruit jam on the cut out piece, plus coffee, and that’s all of the  basic food groups (being: protein, grains, fruits & vegetables, coffee, and butter) in 3 minutes. I do it out of habit.

In Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair article about Obama, here is our President talking about how important habits are to presidential life:

‘You have to exercise,’ he said, for instance. ‘Or at some point you’ll just break down.’ You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. ‘You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,’ he said.’ I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.’ He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. ‘You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.’

Unlike Obama, I don’t have to make decisions each day about which Republican congressman to lean on to keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff, or where to send the next illegal, deadly drone strike.  But like Obama, I know that it takes cognitive resources – brain energy – to make conscious decisions, while unconscious decisions require no such expenditure of energy, and so I try to do as many of the mundane day-to-day things as possible out of habit. Obama does it because he has really important decisions to make. I do it because habits make me efficient, and being efficient means I have more time to do important things like think up the next queerfit workout.

NYTimes reporter Charles Duhigg plowed through a mountain of scientific papers and studies to learn everything he could about the science of habit formation (and of habit change). From that, he wrote a bestseller. The Power of Habit is a smart, serious book filled with talk about neurons and cognitive science, and is adamantly not a self-help book with a glib how-to list of, say, Five Steps to Making Good New Habits.  But really now, there’s nothing wrong with a list. The ponderous grandfather of psychology William James wasn’t above making lists – here in the fabulous Brainpickings.org is his three maxims for the formation of new habits – so I’m here going to do what Duhigg didn’t want to do and give you…

Five Steps to Making Good New Habits:  

Read more…

And don’t worry about losing

Last week, we had heart pumping training montages to get us through the day. Today, two heart wrenching letters, to get us through the rest of our lives.

This one from Troy Davis, who was executed a year ago today, to his supporters:

Jackson, GA

September 2011

I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to human rights and human kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see firsthand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about justice and the human spirit to see justice prevail. Read more…

Training montages

Some Friday mornings, after the coffee has done all it can do, things can still be a wee bit sluggish. What you need, my friend, is a training montage. Pick one, turn up the volume, get up out of that sorry office chair, and do squats and push-ups for the duration (warning: the Rocky IV montage lasts like 3 months).  Here we go:

Rocky with Sylvester Stallone before all his weird plastic surgery

Million Dollar Baby, with Hilary Swank being trained by Clint Eastwood

Karate Kid with Jackie Chan training little Jaden Smith

Rocky II

Rocky III

Rocky IV

The original Karate Kid wax on, wax off

And a bonus, Tenacious D’s hilarious training montage for To Be the Best.

Expecting great things tomorrow, you sexy beasts. See you at 10:00!

Lupe Fiasco, Jumping Ship

We did a whole lot of jumping last week – ski-bunny jumps, front jumps, jumping burpees – and I intended to put up a quick post today about how great it is to jump.  We jump for joy. When excited, we jump in feet first.  We of a certain age show Southside Atlanta pride with some Kriss Kross Jump Jump.  When hopelessly besotted, we jump the broom. When it’s a good day, we jump out of bed.

But then, this: MTV reports today that Lupe Fiasco Might Retire After Friction with Chief Keef.  Something about Chief Keef tweeting that Lupe is a “?x*@ c*&!  a** x!#!>%:!! “ and a “#*@*&#?!” and a “!*$&#!@!” and also a “ax2 + bx + c = 0”. Oh wait, Chief Keef did not call Lupe Fiasco a quadratic equation or a mathematical formula of any sort.

But whatever Chief Keef did tweet apparently got Lupe so upset, he declared he’s done with hip hop.  To which I wailed…

Noooooooo, Lupe, don’t go!

Because if I were young, black, male, raised up in Chicago, 15 years younger, and had stunning musical and lyrical talent – in other words, if I were me, but completely different – I would be Lupe Fiasco. Or at least Lupe when he was Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, Read more…