Forming new habits, finding moments of peace

Forming habits is both a mindless yet persistent effort. You can either remedy a bad habit by replacing it with something else (hopefully positive), yet there in the back of your mind you’re persistently aware of the slippery slope that can lead you back to where you started. Mindless TV has been one of those habits that I’ve been trying to break away from this year. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with coming home from a day of work and wanting to unwind, I now choose to spend that time differently. Instead of turning on Netflix or whatever reality show is blasting on Bravo, I’m finding moments of peace breaking up my old routine. Whether it’s listening to music in the background while taking the extra time to prepare a healthier dinner (been obsessed with quinoa salad these days), or choosing to unwind by practicing piano after work, I’m conscientious of the need to diversify my daily activities away from the computer and TV screen.

I also find that watching mindless tv also perpetuates the needless busy-ness that surrounds day-to-day life. We don’t really need all that extra noise and drama blaring from the tv screens; instead I choose other ways to ground myself and to be at peace with my thoughts:

1. Music. This soundtrack in particular is one of my favorites. Not only is the music just wonderful, but both Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto were the leaders of the bossa nova movement. This is what I consider true timeless music.

2. Piano. Dusting off my repertoire of classical music (though it’s mostly Schubert and Chopin) is no walk in the park. But I’m coming to see that practice (should) make perfect. For the time being, I’m making time for hourly piano practice sessions wherein I revisit pieces I was once able to play at performance-level. The first challenge will be perfecting what I’ve played in the past and my next step thereafter will be to tackle a new piece of music that I’ve never sightread and see if I can work my way up to memorizing that. There was no way for me to have valued my musical education back when I was a child but luckily I now possess the good sense to acknowledge that practicing an instrument has just as many merits as playing a sport. These infographics made a particularly compelling case on the merits of classical music and practicing an instrument in general.

A mind & body “exercise,” so to speak

3. Morning & bedtime yoga. I’m not a morning person so the fact that I’ve been able to practice 30min-1 hr of yoga in the morning on weekdays for nearly two weeks is a big feat for me. It started off as a practical decision that exercising in the morning would be easier than doing so after work when I’m exhausted from the day and luckily has stuck! The key for me is to not make it too intense. Too tired one morning and really not in the mood? Just do an easy 15- or 20-min yoga routine. Feeling more ambitious? Do the full monty 1-hr yoga practice. At any rate, it’s a much better wake-up routine than snoozing multiple alarms and commuting to work half-awake. When I have the chance, I’ve been really enjoying this particular bedtime yoga routine as well. All the deep breathing that you do really promotes relaxation and I can just fall into uninterrupted sleep immediately afterwards.

As I turn another year wiser, I’m less concerned about the breadth of my personal interests and expertise but more interested in their depth. Where I once sought to have an interest and try everything at least once, I now prefer to curate my selection of hobbies, habits and preferences so that I can develop the breadth of my knowledge and energy towards nurturing them. Living in a city with a slower pace of life than NYC has certainly encouraged me to live life a little slower, a bit more intentional. And as this is my life right now, I embrace it.


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