Why You Should Stop Relying on Motivation and Willpower Alone

The Prosperity Ark

"Girl, get off our faces, we can't pick you. A blown balloon flies and a giant tortoise crawls, pray tell, what's your use again? Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! A barrage of stomps, like the repeated bangs of an angry bassist. With each stomp, the creeping insects cringe, some unlucky to be trapped beneath your feet, and amid green grass, squirming and wriggling to escape your weighty grip that traumatizes the earth, pitting her surface. Eventually, like how the reso head rips, the ground splits open and swallows us. You don't want that for us, right? So, off the pitch fatty, and for once don't take an eternity." 

Every day and everywhere it was the same, the mockery and the leper treatment. I hated myself and my mum but she didn't care. “My only child, my precious daughter,” she would chorus, repeatedly throughout my childhood, so much that she constantly kept my mouth busy with chocolates, my tongue protruding out, and wagging like a cow's tail to wipe off its smear from my lips. Now that I am older, my breast, thigh, and butt are swollen, and my tummy is pregnant, not with a child, but with greasy yellow fat. With each look in the mirror, I am reminded of who I am—a fatty leper who has no friends—and I get depressed. And it's not that I haven't tried, but like an ant drawn to sugar, I just can't get my hands off the cookie jar. It was always there, the first thing you saw on entering our duplex. “It’s for welcoming visitors,” my mum counters when I confront her but the look on her face, the same one a child caught with his hands in the pot wears, when I jumped on her pants down eating the visitors' meal, I could tell she was lying. She loved chocolate and was obese, but unlike me, she wasn't bullied, she had people to play with and so, she cared less. “Don't pay attention to them, they’re bullies,” she would console me, but I didn't want empathy. I wanted to mingle with my peers, and I needed to lose weight and fast. Till I entered college, I tried as much as I could, yet all efforts to stop my wanton eating were at best, fetching water into a basket. But far from home with no cookie jar in sight, I had my bull's eye shot at slimming down, all thanks to my roomie. She was the cheerleader of the school's football team and was one of the few who didn't consider me a leper. At first, when she offered to help, I was sceptical, wondering what she was going to do that I hadn't tried before. But she proved my fears wrong. Just a little tweaking, and boom, like a tire whose valve is let loose, I slimmed down sporadically. 

“Your environment is key, redesign your environment such that you don't need the motivation to start, nor self-control to keep up with your habits,” she counselled. I sighed, my shoulders sagged and my hands hung aloof. I bit my lips unconsciously. She quickly noticed and responded, “Oh, you don't believe it! You think I am one of those black suit, red tie, Queen's English speakers singing soothing rhymes of perspire to acquire your desire on TV, no I’m not. And I’m going to show you.” Still, I was sceptical, but I ploughed on, happy that at least someone picked interest in me. “Okay, for starters, hand over your ATM card, at least no more temptation to empty your account on candy. No money, no more flying bikes, welcome to the Leg-ge-denz benz club, trekking is our lifestyle. Also, stop the morning runs, and hey, don't fuss about it. Don't you miss it nine out of ten times? Just tag along with me to training. The warm-up exercises should suffice for now, at least till when everyone is comfortable with you being on the school’s team. That's all. That's enough.” And that's how it started. Today, I am in my finals and I’m the school's cheerleader and an ‘environment redesign’ advocate for starting and breaking habits. 

The Prosperity Ark

Habits, good or bad, are a function of a person in his environment. Like insects, habits metamorphose through the cue, craving, response, and reward phases. You’re hungry, it's a need you have to meet. The thought of the brown buns dancing excitedly in hot oil down the street entices you. Oh the aroma, so tempting. It's just a stone's throw, barely a five-minute walk, and you set out to buy. Wow, so succulent and tasty, you eat it and are satisfied. The cycle is completed and stored, a mental shortcut that fires up when next you are hungry— a simplistic show of how habits work. On the contrary, if you didn't see the buns, you can't crave them. As such, an environment with multiple cues, conspicuous like how bright light is to a moth, that triggers cravings, is tempting, easy to respond to, and rewarding is best for building good habits while one whose cues are like shadows in grotesque darkness, cravings, response, and reward are like the smell and taste of armpit sweat is best for breaking bad habits. So redesign your environment to take perfect control of your life today.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

© 2020 - 2022 Rights Reserved