Monday, October 22, 2012

Try working with prompts

As friends who have been following my blog know, last week was a hard week.  This week there have been great positive signs for Brett, and supporters everywhere are doing what they do to activate their own belief in Brett's full recovery. We are so grateful.

During this time of turbulence I've been trying to work with what it means to love life, exactly as it is, right now, even when it's not the version you'd ever want.  Two thoughts have occurred to me:

1.  When you're sad, be sad.  
Despite promising milestones, I'm still sometimes almost swallowed by a wave of grief.  My thought here is don't fight it, because it is important to internalize the reality of the situation, but in order not to get sucked in, or to dwell in it...

2.  Make an extra effort to notice what is good and savor it.

On that front, I got together with my friend Laurel to try out the idea of creating prompts for ourselves, little crafty door hangers, to remind us to focus our attention in a particular way.  This idea was inspired by Leah Weiss's TEDx talk in which she discusses how the prayer bells of cloistered life can cross over into the use of prompts in everyday secular living.  Seemed worth a try.

Wouldn't you know it, only an hour later, this is what I happened to notice:

I love it when a plan comes together!

In this process what I've also noticed is that one of my unintentional prompts is our microwave.  When I run it, even for one minute, it prompts me to check my email.  It's a micro-habit that's popped up, and is really unproductive.  But the strength of the association convinces me that prompts may be able to be harnessed in useful ways.  I think, especially if someone is disciplined, this ends up working like classical conditioning.  What about you--do you have prompts, good or bad, that redirect your attention during the day?

PS This poster is part of a fun local project by Susan O'Malley.  Check it out at


  1. The microwave and email? Really? Just shows that anything can come to be correlated with anything else. I love the prompts we put together! Looking forward to more projects with you!

  2. Charles Duhigg devotes a section of his book "The Power of Habit" to this concept. Check it out - I think you may find it fascinating and helpful. Thanks for sharing your prompts ladies! You have me thinking about mine again - and love the idea of a 15 minute time limit. Seems very do-able.