Why we quit important habits, and how to get back on track.

Someone meditating in the past, but distracted now.
Someone meditating in the past, but distracted now.
Illustration by the author.

After meditating for 45 minutes a day for almost two years, I recently dropped the habit.

If you ask me why, I struggle to find an answer. Meditation is probably in my top three life priorities, which makes it even weirder that I quit.

So, what happened?

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I thought about all the possible reasons.

Maybe it’s because work takes up so much of my time and mental space recently. Maybe my social media addiction and my caffeine consumption removed all my concentration power. Or maybe I’m just tired and unmotivated.

So I tried all the solutions I could come up with to address those problems. …

Tame the mental hurricane of thoughts and decisions and tasks and get back to a place of grounded action.

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Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

In a recent conversation, a friend of mine used a great metaphor to describe how he’s been feeling lately: as if he is driving a complex spaceship full of levers and buttons and decisions to make, but feeling a desire to switch to an automatic car where all he has to do is steer the wheel and remember to pull the hand break every once in a while.

The next day, a student in one of my courses said that he feels like he is always in “go” mode, always in the element of fire, and he needs more Earth — more grounding, more space to breathe and think. …

We evolved to move, not sit, and I wanted to be stronger, more flexible, and more focused. Here’s how I got more movement in my day.

An illustration of the author doing a hand stand on her laptop keyboard.
An illustration of the author doing a hand stand on her laptop keyboard.
All illustrations by the author

If your work involves sitting down at the computer for most of the day, you probably understand the special kind of muscle stiffness that comes with it.

It’s not that you’re unfit. You exercise (kind of) regularly, and you’re in better shape than a lot of your friends.

But you still get the back pain and the neck tension. You still struggle to lose weight, despite the exercise. You still feel tired most of the time. Exercising still feels like a chore.

And the thing is, you don’t just want to be moderately fit: You want to be stronger, more flexible, more energized, and more focused than the average Joe. You want to feel 100% comfortable in your body. You know the key is to move more, but how do you turn exercise into a consistent habit that you actually enjoy? …

But you need to know the right moment to stop.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

For the past two days I haven’t been feeling my best.

There have been some struggles and disappointments at work and I felt mentally exhausted. My brain couldn’t think or create anything anymore. I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.

So I allowed myself to do just that.

I allowed myself to sleep for as long as I wanted (which ended up being 10 to 12 hours each night). …

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You have been together for a while.

Things are not as they used to be. You don’t kiss or touch so often anymore. You’ve gotten used to each other’s presence, and the butterflies are long gone.

You co-exist peacefully (most of the time), and you agree that you have a good relationship — better than most.

But somewhere there, deep down, you feel the disconnection that’s been gradually creeping in. Not because you don’t love them, but because time-inflicted habituation and life’s general busyness have desensitized you to the power of everyday gestures of affection.

But sometimes, when you watch a romantic movie or listen to a sad song or drink a few glasses of wine, you can feel the sweet urge to show all that love you’ve been bottling up. …

This experiment in vulnerability can create intimate connections between writer and reader—but it is not for the faint of heart

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All illustrations by the author.

My alarm rings and I get out of bed.

I wash my face, drink some water, and stretch. Then, I open my laptop, I take a deep breath, and I start typing today’s journal entry.

I might write about my anxiety and my deepest fears. I might process and brainstorm my most current and exciting ideas. Occasionally, I will analyze recent events in my life, set myself new goals, or reflect on my own character flaws. Sometimes, I just express gratitude. …

Facing emotional distance, conflict, or frequent triggers in your relationship? The Noticing Game might help.

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All illustrations by the author

A few weeks ago, my partner and I went through a challenging time in our relationship.

Our moments of fun and connection gave way to complaints and barely contained tears. Our morning walks together, once a source of laughter and connection, became dangerous minefields of mutual triggers. Every day we had emotionally charged conversations that’d be reason enough for many couples to break up.

We thought about possible causes. Maybe it was because we worked and lived together and needed more time apart. Maybe it was because I had been feeling unusually anxious lately, and he was tired and overworked. …

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Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

I often have so many ideas in my head that I feel bad that I can’t make them all reality.

I get an insight from a book. A random brilliant thought comes to my mind during a walk. A possibility for a collaboration. An insight for a new article. Two thoughts finally connecting in my brain, and the urge to share them with the world.

But then… I don’t have the time, or the energy, or the inspiration to make it happen. …

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The world is full of possibilities, and you want to do it all.

You want to take that course, start that project, read that book, learn that skill, all while making time for your day job, hobbies, spiritual practice, friends and family-and all in the next month or two.

It always happens in cycles: you get excited about a bunch of (genuinely interesting!) things, and you fill your schedule to the brim. Some people can make it all work, so why wouldn’t you?

At first it feels exciting, but eventually it gets overwhelming.

You know you need to prioritize, but everything seems so important that you don’t know what to drop. And then the worst happens: you get so obsessed about choosing the right thing and taking the most effective step possible that you end up . …

Cut through anxiety with these simple yet effective writing prompts that get your words flowing and your mind clear

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All illustrations by the author.

In the midst of the current world crisis, everyone’s minds are all over the place.

We are constantly bombarded with anxiety-inducing news; we worry about our jobs, about the current state of the world, about the health of our loved ones. Our routines and stability are turned upside down, and every day is haunted by a sense of fear and uncertainty.

Now more than ever, we need mindfulness and self-care practices to regulate our anxiety, to remain kind towards others, and most of all, to make rational decisions instead of reacting to fear.

However, exactly because of all the anxiety and restlessness we’re experiencing these days, it can feel especially hard to sit down, take a breath, and go within. Even for those of us who have more time in our hands, it’s more convenient to distract ourselves with social media or entertainment than meditate, do yoga, slow down, or even focus on deep work. …


Sílvia Bastos

Habit Coach. Self-Experimenter. Find your ideal Keystone Habit here: https://journalsmarter.com/keystone-habit/

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