An experiment, not a resolution
And now for something completely different.
New Years is the time for resolutions. I've been there and done that. And failed. Resolutions, New Years and otherwise, haven't worked too well for me. I hear that they don't work too well for most people. Maybe you. If so, maybe this will help.
Here's why I think they don't work for me. Some background.
I've been writing and thinking a lot about the experience of "waking up" -- realizing that I've been going through life in a waking dream, watching my life live rather than actually living it. For example, I wrote about it here.
That's led me to realize that when I'm in the non-awake state, what's living my life is not me, but instead my (excellent) conditioning. It's lived by a simulated human being. I wrote about that here.
And I've argued that if change is possible -- other than change caused by the environment, which is yet more conditioning -- then it can only happen during those (short) periods of time when I am actually present. Awake. Making decisions. Able to exercise free will. Here.
Resolutions don't work for me because that's how I'm conditioned right now. There's a good chance that most of "my" New Years resolutions are the direct result of conditioning. After all, you're supposed to make resolutions on New Years, aren't you? Conditioning.
But suppose I, and not my conditioning, have made a resolution. What happens then?
Answer: conditioning. Under normal circumstances the automated machinery is quite adequate, thank you very much. In a crisis, an event that entirely exceeds my conditioned ability I might show up and make some critical decisions. But then -- well, my conditioning can take over.
But there's a problem.
I'm conditioned to not waste time or energy unnecessarily. And I'm conditioned to make rational decisions. And I'm conditioned to tolerate and to be forgiving of lapses and mistakes. So if there's a lapse, and the only consequence is that I've saved time and energy, then it's irrational to continue to waste time and energy, by continuing to do something that I don't really have to do. Right?
And so, once things leave crisis mode, I'm back to default mode.
To get myself out of default mode I've got to do one of three things. A) I must re-condition myself or B) I've got to put myself in an environment where doing what I decided to do takes less time and energy than avoiding it, or C) I must stick around and be present all the fucking time.
All the evidence shows that C is impossible for me right now, and may be impossible forever. The best that I can hope for is being present more frequently and for longer periods. And I am working on that. Lordy, I am working!
A) is only possible when I'm around to recondition myself, or when I'm in an environment that will condition me in the right direction. And therein lies my plan for change.
Right now as I am writing this, by virtue of what I'm writing, I keep reminding myself to wake up. And so I am more awake than usual, and that means I can work on my conditioning. Which I am doing right now.
So here's the experiment: to recondition myself by making sure that I show up tomorrow before today's conditioning is lost, and deepen the conditioning. To create an environment that makes it easier for me to keep going than to stop. Those two things together might make the groove deep enough. I did it for a few years with 750 words without understanding what I was doing.
So now I think I have a better understanding. This is day 7 of the current streak. I need to make sure that I wake up before 24 hours have passed.
I need to create an environment where waking up is easier.