Habit Building: What’s the Point?


Apr 26 2016

Gold Tape

Habit Building: What's the Point?
I dedicate a lot of time to forming habits: implementing, tweaking, optimizing: strategy, strategy, strategy. I get so focused on these projects that it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.


So what IS the point of all of this effort?

To find purpose in what I do, I turn to mindfulness: a state of awareness in the present moment. It can be achieved through practices like meditation and yoga, but my personal form of mindfulness is something I called heroine training.


Heroine Training as mindfulness:

The term ‘heroine training’ comes from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which opens by introducing us to our protagonist, a lady who is not a heroine, but a heroine in training. The novel we read is her journey towards actualization, and owning her story. Naturally, I love this idea.


Let go of the guilt in guilty pleasure.

Mindfulness is recognising yourself as the heroine of your story. It means being in tune with what you truly love and are attracted to, whether it’s classic literature or Gossip Girl*. The Happiness Project taught me to accept that there are things that I like, and things that I don’t like, and that’s okay. I don’t like parties (unless they’re tea parties) or clubbing (unless we’re talking book clubbing).
I do like pop music, reality tv, and high fashion, and when I started to let go of my reservations about liking such ‘guilty pleasures’, they became simply ‘pleasures’, and I was free of so much guilt.
* because I am personally suffering from Gossip Girl withdrawal, I started this list.
The Point of it All: Heroine Training as Mindfulness Training

Instagram your way to happiness.

Mindfulness is enjoying each moment of each day in a way unique to you. As I write this, I am savouring the distinct, soft clicking of my keyboard – Monkey’s keyboard, for instance, is more of a frenzied hailstorm – with sips of my soya flat white in between, filling my body with the signature drink that took many a penny to discover. Some call this The Amélie Effect. [Actually, I just made up that term, but if you’ve seen the film Amélie, you get it. If you haven’t, go see it, and these 13 other films that inspire mindfulness].


My appreciation for collecting personal snapshots of each moment makes me quite the Instagram cliché. In fact, I would recommend Instagram as a mindfulness practice – arranging my workspace and notes in an aesthetically appealing #happystudyflow way really got my through my dissertation, and also got me into the hilarious habit of lining up my Muji supplies in perfect, symmetrical fashion even if I don’t intend to photograph them. High school journalism taught me to always carry a camera to change my frame of mind to that of a storyteller. Well these days, pretty much everyone carries a camera in their phone, so why not use it?


Got it? Now to level up…

Being mindful of the little things to love colours your day with delectable detail. What I do now is not just observe mindfulness, but study it. I go beyond accepting my intuitive response to liking and disliking things and ask myself Why?


I love Taylor Swift’s songs because to me they are musical empathy. When I feel hurt by something (or someone), I turn to “Mean” and “Bad Blood”, then “The Best Day” and “Shake It Off”. When I am enamored, it’s “Enchanted” and “Wonderland”.


I’ve written a whole course dedicated to why Harry Potter makes me feel better. I could never let go of my personal history with the books, and how they were there for me when I needed them most. Something about the story and setting were able to transport me to the most blissful distraction. Clearly it’s not just me, though. I go into this more in my TEDx talk.


I’m here to help you understand that why.

What I’ve done here at Heroine Training is take the things that I’m passionate about, and figure out how they have shaped me. I latch onto the most important lessons I have learned, and structured them for you. Each of us is on our own heroine’s journey. The cycle is the same, the tropes are the same, but the details, the colour, are different.


I like to pretend that I’m a character in my favourite settings: a Hogwarts student, a Jane Austen heroine, a Broadway star. Framing life as a reality tv show is a form of mindfulness, as cameras and editing put “reality” in the context of a narrative. Even Taylor Swift writes a setting, from her fairytale gowns of her country days to her pop star ’squad goals’. So yes, I would love to bake cookies with her and Karlie [and Cara and Lorde and Lena and Ed Sheeran].


I invite you to choose your own setting for your adventure. What speaks to you most?

I write about chasing your dreams, about optimizing the time that you spend. But what are the consequences of achievement? In broad terms, the result is that you are more in tune with yourself and your desires. You are your own heroine.
P.S. If your setting is the Broadway stage, you might enjoy my upcoming confidence camp, Leading Lady. Register your interest here :)
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