Habit XVIII

by zenquaker

This week is the last week of my current habit cycle. Currently I’m working on playing a game of Chess every day. That’s working pretty well. I have played every day, and last night I played two games. My opponent challenged me to a rematch after I got a free bishop while simultaneously forking his rook and queen. I thought about saying that I only played one game a night, but that felt rude, and it wasn’t like I didn’t have the time. He had connection problems on the second game, and resigned the game even though it was an even game.

I haven’t been noticing as much of the pre-game anxiety that I felt early on. One thing that I thought was related is clarifying itself as distinct. I often get very nervous during the game, with my heart thumping so hard I can feel it pounding into my ribs. I have come to realize that this is an adrenaline rush. It specifically comes at tactically important points in the game. Last night it came when I saw he had left his bishop undefended. Then I saw the fork if he left the bishop undefended. The problem is that at that point I need to be looking at what happens if he defends the bishop. You have to assume your opponent is going to make the right move. But the adrenaline rush makes it hard to think, right at the point in the game where I need be thinking most clearly. I’m not sure if Zen meditation techniques can calm me down from an adrenaline rush, but I need to find some way to deal with that if my game is going to go anywhere.

But as I said, this is the last week in the cycle. Monday is when I should be starting a new habit, and it seemed like a good time to clarify my plans for the next few habits. I have already decided that playing with the cat every day is the next habit. The remaining two habits in the original plan are working on one of my other projects every night and exercising every day. Of the two, exercising is the higher priority. Besides, I want to see if the fatigue I was feeling earlier this week is a long term thing before putting in more work in the evenings. It might even be that exercising helps with the fatigue, so exercise is definitely the second habit in the current plan. Then we can tackle project work.

Once the project work is habitized, the original master plan will be complete, and I need to think about where to go from there. Assuming I go anywhere. Just as growth is unsustainable, I can only add so many habits to my life. I suppose I could change some of them, but I’ve gotten rid of most of my bad habits, so I’d eventually be changing ones I created through the same process.

In any case, I spent some time thinking about where to go next while I was doing test runs at work today. I came up with four possibilities. The first is working on personal data collection. This is something I’ve looked at before but found to be hard to do. Using the simple method to make a habit of it might deal with the hard to do part. Although this is really the last to do, so I can track data on all my other habits.

The second idea is to become completely celibate. I’m pretty close already given my luck with women the past eight years, so this would mainly mean not masturbating any more. I have a love/hate relationship with masturbation, thanks to my aforementioned warped mind when it comes to sex. Also, previous periods of not masturbating seemed to increase my ability to remember dreams, which I always like to blog about.

Third is changing my eating habits. I’ve heard that the best way to eat is to have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Currently it’s more like dinner like a king, lunch like a pauper, and breakfast like a medieval prisoner. I would need to do some research on whether this is actually a good idea before making a habit of it. One benefit is that it would probably push me toward a more vegetarian diet.

The last idea is to change my habits while eating. Currently I almost never eat without reading something at the same time. That’s not very Zen. Doing nothing but eating and concentrating on my eating would be a way to bring my Zen practice off the cushion and into my life. It might also push me toward a more vegetarian diet. That would eliminate almost all my reading however. Most of my reading is worthless (reading the same books over and over again), dubious (reading the biased news which I like to think keeps me informed), and worthwhile (new review coming soon). So I would just need to find time to squeeze in the worthwhile reading elsewhere.

Anyway, we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

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