How to change your life without willpower

You can make permanent, deep change in your behavior easily, without willpower — even break alcohol addiction, like writer Edith Zimmerman did — if you change your underlying belief about yourself. www.thecut.com

This sounds like bullshit, but I can personally attest it to be true. I’ve done it three times: When I quit smoking, when I lost weight and kept it off, and when I started exercise. In each case, I changed my underlying belief about myself.

I was a heavy smoker, already up to 3 packs a day when I was 30. I quit smoking a million times before it stuck. I hated myself for smoking. I exerted great willpower to try to quit. Then I’d start again, a minute or a few hours later, and hate myself even more.

One day I set a deadline. End of this month, I said. I had done that a million times before too. But this time, when the deadline hit, I was a nonsmoker. That is how I thought of myself.

After that, it was easy. I just didn’t smoke anymore. There was some physical withdrawal, but not a lot. No worse than a moderate cold.

Similarly, ten years ago I just decided to lose weight. I downloaded an app for my iPhone, loseit.com, and started using it to track every bite I ate. I set my calorie goal to lose 1/2-2 pounds per week. I lost about 90 pounds over the next three years, then another 10 pounds. In the last year or so I’ve gained 10 back, and I’m working on lose those 10 again.

I just thought of myself as a person who is losing weight. Then I was a person who has lost the weight, and keep it off.

Also, I am a person who has a kind of physical disability. Most people have a sort of internal thermostat that regulates what they eat, and how much, and it keeps them at a steady weight — their ideal weight or a little over. My thermostat is completely broken, so I have to consciously control how much I eat at all times. It’s inconvenient, but not a big deal.

I still do food logging with Lose It. Every bite, every day. (The app is unimportant — there are other apps that are just as good. You can even do it with pen and paper, which is what people did for literally a century before we all started carrying pocket computers.)

Finally, I went from sedentary to moderate exercise. I walk about 3.25 miles a day. Again: I started thinking of myself as a person who exercises. And now I do.

So, yes, achieving big change in your life is easy, without willpower, if you change your belief about yourself.

But how do you change your belief about yourself? That’s the tricky part. I don’t have an answer to that, though I have some ideas that I may share at another time.

Via Lisa Schmeiser’s excellent So What, Who Cares newsletter. tinyletter.com

Smoking woman sprayed gasoline on customer who splashed her with windshield washer fluid

Kimberly Brinton was pumping gas and smoking a cigarette at a Pennsylvania convenience store. Another customer told her it isn’t safe to smoke around a gas pump, and splashed Brinton with windshield cleaner. Brinton responded by spraying gasoline on the other customer and threatening to light her on fire. The other customer slipped on the gasoline and broke her arm. Brinton was jailed on aggravated assault and other charges.

Surprised this wasn’t in Florida.