Wisdom//

The Smart Strategy That Can Urge Us to Unplug and Recharge

When it comes to self-control 101, try "situation modification" to make a change.

Modern life does not favor sleep.

I don’t need to be told that my “future self” would be happier the next morning if, at 10 p.m., I closed my laptop, strode past the pile of unopened mail, and marched straight upstairs to get ready for bed. Unfortunately, my “present self” would rather reply to one more email, pay the bills, and otherwise stretch the day just a moment longer, and then another… until suddenly, it’s an hour past my bedtime.

For much of human history, nocturnal productivity was not an option. Before the invention of the lightbulb, cycles of light and dark more or less followed the rising and setting of the sun.

Now, we can stay up as long as we’d like. In fact, the blue light emitted by most of the screens we stare into for much of our waking hours suppresses the secretion of melatonin. In other words, our devices are not only a diversion, but they also keep us alert much later than is healthy.

In data collected on Character Lab Research Network, the more hours teens spend on social media and video games, the less they sleep.

To an extent, objective features of our situation are beyond our control. We cannot un-invent the lightbulb, the laptop, or the uncountable ways these innovations have made productivity, as well as entertainment, possible 24 hours a day.

But one effective way for your future self to triumph over your present self is to manipulate your situation to advantage. This strategy is called situation modification.

For instance, you can make it a family rule to keep the chargers for cell phones, and the cell phones themselves, out of bedrooms. To reduce exposure to blue light, you can enable the Night Shift feature (or equivalent) on your devices. Better yet, you can go analog by, say, curling up with a good book for the last hours of the evening.

Try hacking your situation to make self-control easier. Whether your future self wants more sleep, more exercise, or less procrastination, think about how you can make temptations less potent. Yes, our objective situations can be the enemy of self-control… but if humankind is clever enough to recreate the sun, then surely we can use the same ingenuity to outwit our own inventions.

With grit and gratitude,
Angela

Originally published at Character Lab

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

A World of Hope

by Beth Benatti Kennedy, MS, LMFT
Mindful Screening//

Is Technology Ruining Your Sleep?

by Veronica Benton
Community//

How To Avoid Becoming One Of The Walking Dead

by Pam Thomas

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.