If You're Losing, Change the Game

Don't bother playing head games with yourself. You can practice focusing with meditation, remove triggers for bad habits, and put money on the line. Those are all good things. But when the time comes when some persuasive part of your brain really wants what you refuse to give it, don't bother trying to psych yourself out of wanting it.

Instead, change the game entirely.

If you are sitting at your computer, trying to get work done, and your brain really wants you to go on Reddit, don't just sit there trying to work and ignore your brain, because you're going to lose. If you fight it out with your brain in your brain, you're going to lose. Your brain has home court advantage. So, change the playing field. Go outside, go talk to someone, or turn your computer off until the urges pass.

If you don't mind going on Reddit in general, but you just can't do it at the moment, you can ride the urges for a few minutes before they get the best of you. "Changing the game" is more for when you are trying to break the addiction completely and never want to go on Reddit again.

In the case of a non-addiction that you want to practice building willpower over, play the "act on the third urge" game. It's pretty self-explanatory. Watch your urges and act on the third one. As you play it over and over again, the urges should become less frequent and your willpower should become stronger. Obviously this doesn't work with alcoholism, porn addiction, pot addiction, or any other addiction that you should break cold turkey.


I've been working through Leo Babauta's The Little Book of Contentment lately. I highly recommend printing it off and working through it if you don't already read Zen Habits. Which you should read also.