habits

Robert Sterberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence suggests that intelligence exists across a spectrum which involves three distinct forms: analytical intelligence, practical intelligence and creative intelligence.

Analytical intelligence is what we typically associate with ‘smart’ people. It’s book smarts. Specifically, it’s the ability to understand, recall and develop ideas which aid in problem solving and decision making.

Practical intelligence is all about how we interact with our environment. How to we change ourselves to suit it, and how to we change our environment to suit us? Practically intelligent people are excellent lifestyle designers.

Finally, creative intelligence is about extending beyond analytical ideas and into the generation of ideas which react effectively to new situations. People with high creative intelligence are those who are comfortable developing new approaches to problems which may not always align with conventional thinking.

Each of these forms are multiplied by one another. If we excel in one but are deficient in another, our overall intelligence still suffers.

If we’re honest with ourselves, can we spot our weakest link?

How much could we be benefit from focussing on improving it?

There’s a lot of research which suggests that we can foster any one of these forms with a bit of dedicated practice.

If that’s important to you, find your weak spot and begin building a habit.

Don’t wait.

Start now.

In 2014 a professor at the University of Melbourne published a study in which the computer sessions of 1249 students were analysed over a total of 3372 sessions.

Facebook was present in 44% of all sessions and accounted for the second most common task, totalling 9.2% of all task instances. Only being beaten by university work itself.

What’s interesting is that about 99% of the sessions involved instances of media multitasking.

For the purpose of the experiment they defined focussed behaviour as instances of 20 or more minutes with two or less different activities.

They discovered that students tended to multitask regardless of whether or not they used Facebook.

What was stunning is that when they compare the focussed behaviour between Facebook users and non-Facebook. Around a third of the non-Facebook users spent most of their time in focussed behaviour, compared to only one in nine Facebook users.

Further, Facebook was responsible for initiating multitasking behaviour at the cost of student’s focus.

While these results shouldn’t surprise anyone, they are a reminder that if Facebook is your vice of choice, maybe there are times where you want to restrict your access.

If you’re studying, maybe consider installing a website blocker to stop Facebook initiating distraction.

There aren’t many consumables which you can indulge as much as you like without any negative consequence.

The average Australian drinks about half of the reccomended water intake per day, and even a 1% decrease in the body’s water content is enough to impact cognitive ability and mood.

Unless you’re drinking 3-4 litres in a sitting, there’s never a bad time to drink more water.

Hungry? Drink water.

Bored? Drink water.

Awake? Drink more water.

It’s the most underred beverage on the planet, and not everyone is as lucky as you to have instant access to it fresh out a tap.

In fact, 1 in 10 people don’t even have access to clean water.

Here’s somewhere you can be involved in changing that.

Sometimes the habbits we wish to foster aren’t rewarding in the immediate term.

Doing 20 pull-ups isn’t going to get you any back muscles. It’s just going to hurt.

Do 20 pull-ups every day however, and in a few months you’ll notice some serious progress.

This is one of the limitations of thinking in terms of finite games.

If completing 20 pull-ups is the goal, they’re only worth doing if there’s an immediate sense of gratification which is as valuable as the pain of suffering through the set.

Which means, like all new habits, the first handful of times will be the hardest.

Streaks make this process easier.

If instead of focussing on the immediate returns from hard to build habits, you’re focussed on maintaining your streak, all of a sudden there are immediate stakes for failing to maintain the habbit.

The longer the steak, the less likely you are to break it.

Try to hit 10 repetitions of a new habbit in a row, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly – whatever.

After ten reps, you’ll find that your habbit starts to feel like a ritual; it’s no longer a thing you feel like you have to do, it’s just a thing you do.

“Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

James Clear

People say you are what you eat, but I’m more inclined to believe you are what you do.

Make good food decisions, you’ll be a healthy eater.

Juggle every day, you’ll be a juggler.

In many ways, we are all of the things we’re performing in each moment.

Which is why it’s so important to optimise yourself in the immediate term.

Long-term goals are great, but they have no relevance to who you actually are outside of the effect that have on focussing your immediate goals.

Dreams are so fun to imagine because they skip all work required to realise them and get right to the reward.

For them to come true, a through line must be forged which connect the dream to the now.

People who lose sight of this live in a world of constant inaction with distant goals which will sadly never eventuate.

Every action, every second, is a vote for the person you’ll become.

Vote wisely.

Pursuits are the infinite games we play which involve clear feedback and trackable progress.

Playing slot machines can never be a pursui because there’s no way to get better at it; over time, you’re guaranteed to lose.

However, playing poker could be a pursuit. There are a set of skills involved which can be honed over time with practice.

Pursuits are not habits, but they can involve habitual practice.

Mixed Martial Arts is a pursuit which benefits greatly from a habitual routine.

Pursuits are the goals we set which never end.

They’re the things which over time we wish to master. Which we do for the sake of continuing to do them.

Nobody ever wakes up and realises that they’ve mastered a pursuit.

Mastery is not a destination, it’s a practice.

In his worthwhile book, The Hapiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt argues that the advantage optomists have over pessimists naturally compounds.

It’s true that the world is structured such that the rich tend to get richer as the poor get poorer, but it’s also true that the happy are likely to grow further happier than the sad.

When it comes to dealing with circumstances which are making them unhappy, “optimists expect their efforts to pay off, [so] they go right to work fixing the problem.”

Even when things fail, they have an inherent understanding that things tend to work out for the best.

When things go wrong, optimists naturally seek out the potential benefits buried within misfortune.

The narrative optimists write for themselves then, is one of constantly overcoming adversity.

Pessimists, on the other hand, live in a world with more apparent risk and less confidence to deal with it.

From the pessimist perspective it’s natural to feel trapped within a narrative wrought with hopelessness; one where bearing the consequences of injust circumstances seems more natural than attempting to change them.

Optimists and pessimists can be dealt the exact same adversity and each write opposing translations.

What’s frightening is that the way each retells the events in their own internal narrative has ripple effects on the remainder of their narrative.

Optimists are more likely to grow from adversity because they can antipate rewards for their efforts.

Pessimists are more likely to be enslaved by adversity because they spend more time managing their pain than resolving their adversity.

This doesn’t mean pessimists can’t grow from adversity. It just means they find it more difficult to do so on average.

“The key to growth is not optimism per se, it is the sense making which optimists find easy.”

Optimist, pessimist or anything inbetween, find a way to make sense of adversity. Come to terms with it. Relish it. Grow.

Playing infinite games (those which aren’t played to win, but for the purpose of continuing to play) is only a good idea if the game offers long term fulfillment.

In contrast, there are some finite games worth playing even if they aren’t particularly enjoyable at the time.

Usually, these finite games are wrapped up within infinite games.

Framing them through the lens of the infinite games they inhabit can make it easier to overcome short term resistance for the sake of continuing infinite play.

Showing up to the gym even though you’re sore, writing on the days you want to do anything but and getting out of bed at 5am to do so are all finite games which don’t feel worthwhile in the moment but, over time, contribute to the infinte game of living a healthy, rewarding and productive life.

Sometimes finite discomfort is worth your while.

Being the kind of person who always runs late is a bad habit to have, and an even worse reputation.

Running perpetually just on time might be an even worse habit.

You get the gratification of feeling on top of things, even when you’re not.

I’m guilty of this all the time. Arriving to a 12pm meeting at 11:58am is not showing up early.

Neither is posting a blog post at 11:58pm, but here we are.

When we don’t allow ourselves enough time to do our work with care, our work suffers.

On time isn’t good enough. We owe eachother better.

When was the last time you took in a full sky-dome of stars?

Losing touch with the magnificence of the night sky is one of the costs of living in a light polluted city.

It’s an easy cost to overlook, but not one we should take lightly. There is no view more sobering than the rich redness of gargantuan hydrogen clouds swallowing up the sky, speckled with evergreen fireflies casting scattering starlight across neon blue spacedust.

Its sheer scale serves as a reminder of how miniature we are.

That’s not to say we don’t matter. Only that whatever may be plaguing us matters even less.

It’s okay.