Kindness Challenge
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The Habituation Loop

Author: G. Jefferies

 

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How time flies, or appears to; relativity in action as it were. A case of find something you hate doing and watch it go backwards. Balance and theoretical consistency is neatly maintained by fast forwards when doing something uber cool. Low level default mind can have the same effect; stealing time and throwing it back out several days later with no real recollection of the bits inbetween. Autopilot as it were, or zombie mind if you prefer a modern take (more on that later) I digress (becoming a theme that) and must begin my reflections on week three of Niki Lopez’s kindness challenge.

Radiating kindness, that was the goal this week. Have I achieved this? Good question. Last week I pondered the merits of day to day things that become sullied because they are, well, perceived as mundane day to day chores that create, what I’ve termed , a habituation loop. Does this mean kindness is no longer part of these actions and thus no longer valid? Can one simply reset this thinking by stepping back and saying ‘No’ to emphasise ‘Hey, I’m actually doing you a favour here?’

A conundrum indeed, and requiring the equivalent of strike action to raise awareness. I suspect that for the mindfull mind such a course of action would be preposterous and entirely alien. But, since the thought is now to challenge everyday chores and, if you happen to have children then no doubt the despair squid (another reference for the avid telly watcher…name drop, Dwayne Dibley…say no more) has visited more than once making life rather challenging every so often, we may as well chuck this into the mix as part of the habituation loop and drag the unnoticed kindness radiation…or at the very least formulate a massive sentence like this one to see who skim reads, going ‘eh?’

Everyday chores…parent…enough said really, if you are one then you will know what I mean already; if you aren’t then more than likely at some point this will make sense in the future…good luck, there are few manuals; enjoy the ride…it’s not that bad, and mostly brilliant, not to be missed stuff…where was I? Oh yes the habituation loop and chores.

 

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Back in circa 650 B.C. Aesop dropped into Greece and somewhere between then and 564 B.C. wrote a few words including the above quotation. Dates people…dates…not new this kindness lark by a long stretch of the imagination. Recurring theme throughout history really and has the lesson sunk in yet?

Blogosphere 1 politicos 0, to use a football reference.

Several blogging friends have reinforced, or radiated, to vaguely stay on topic, this very point. I’ve yet to meet a new blog where the owner moderates a comment with ‘Clear  off’…have you? I shall wager the answer is no…digression mode active…reset…

The habituation loop

Parents and chores, laundry as a random example. How many folk just do their own? Not many I suspect but, that is a case of unmentioned kindness. Family members waking up donning clean clothes and assuming that whoever did it was having a delightful experience. Personally I don’t find it fun, but one does it because it needs doing. Of course that means somebody around you hasn’t got to…ergo it’s actually a kindness dressed in the habituation loop. No need to thank but what happens if you don’t do it?

‘Dad, I’ve got no socks’

‘Really? Has Gandalf not waved his staff this week and applied mystical incantations upon your washing and transferred the contents of thy laundry bin unto your drawers after passing through washing, drying and folding inbetween?’

Not that I imagine Gandalf would cheat, but one wonders who did his…or Aragorns for that matter. Mind you he ended up a King so probably paid minions to do it. Not the same though that, not really. Paying is employing; kindness is free…although service with a smile is radiating kindness in its own way. A happy employee is a productive one. Why? They are happy and happy oozes uncontrollable kindness. It rubs off too…just take the time to people watch then write a paragraph seeing how many times you can use the word kindness like this one. So much for being a writer; although it could be a subliminal kind control experiment. If you smile at all whilst reading that then in true God Strain thinking; upload complete.

Laundry is but one example of the forgotten kindness, opening a door for someone else is another. The thank you is automatically dealt out but if it comes back with a smile then the kindness is registered. Not that one expects a smile for clean underwear but that’s not really the point. The point is instead of thinking chore, think kindness in action; how many people around you benefit from what you are doing? Then apply that to all the other chores.

 

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Balance

This is a word I’ve encountered several times this week, both inside and outside the blogosphere. Inside, on a great number of blogs I follow and outside as advice. At first I thought little of it, then I read the above quote and it made me think. The habituation loop covers the mundane. Maybe even raising awareness that even the simplest tasks radiate kindness in their own particular idiom. Louise L. Hay makes a poignant point though. How we choose to think dictates the harmonic state of mind that recognises balance; the old adage springs to mind;

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’

I have no idea who Jack is or was (hence the wiki link which throws up a whole heap of irrelevant trivia) but the sentiment is pretty clear.

Balance, it’s all about balance. This radiating kindness in the habituation loop is hard work, more so if you are just beginning the mindful process. One must find time to radiate self kindness too; not being too self critical, setting personal targets that are realistic and not unreachable, breaking the overwhelming into doable chunks, getting out and doing something, well, selfish…for you…let’s call that the selfish kindness. The one that balances radiating kindness and, in some ways even fuels it. The time out for ones own indulgences. Don’t be a Jack.

One last thing. You are probably not the only one radiating kindness. Look around and ask yourself the question.

‘Am I also in a habituation loop, have I stopped seeing kindness and taken things for granted too?’

If the answer is ‘Yes’ then step back and breathe. Enter the moment and consider what I said right at the start. Default mind or zombie mode. The beast that creeps in and thrives on negatives and catastrophising; it misses kindness all the time. The one that seems entirely absent in young children filled with awe and amazement at the smallest of things. I remember that feeling but don’t recall when it silently drifted away leaving behind a default program that runs on uninterrupted recycling things and changing perception of time…now there’s a discussion point all of it’s own.

 

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Thus ends my week three diatribe. One hopes it makes sense and, whilst the subject is a serious one, I feel it is not beyond small infiltrations of humour; in fact next week I may try and include some.

Have a great week wherever you might be and remember, the politicians are wrong, we all get on. Go radiate that one!

Returning to idioms….here is my weekly parting question. Who said this and from which book or film? No googling.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

 


 

© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in: Kindness Challenge

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Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!

79 Comments

  1. Pingback: Gratitude in Kindness | Fiction is Food

  2. Thank you Gary for such a wise post. Extremely thought provoking. I just stumbled upon your blog and I must say I think I can enjoy a steady diet of Fiction as food.

    • Thank you so much 😊 More so to see such a kind comment. I’m glad you found it thought provoking…in truth these challenge posts are quite self indulgent in that often it’s me exploring me and offering it up in a conversational tone…I just have this idyllic vision of a world that doesn’t have to show despairing news and politicos that actually want to unite cultures instead of separating them….might be an idyll but one can hope yes 🙃

  3. Pingback: A Random Act of Kindness | Fiction is Food

  4. How thoughtful and wonderfully-expressed, Gary 🙂 You’ve beautifully made the point that we can take things for granted or–as wishes-granted…and who isn’t enchanted by magic? And, as you’ve wonderfully illustrated, kindness has a magic all its own…it has transformative powers and is something we can all embrace and share on so many levels and in the (seemingly) smallest ways…thank you for using your eloquence and brilliant mind to add to the kindness in the world 🙂
    Your friend for life…Truly

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and respond in such a thoughtful manner. I fear successive posts may now seem less potent on the basis I have no des how to top this after seeing your reply 😱

      Really appreciate your words Truly 😊

      • You are welcome…isn’t it funny how praise can be a double-edged sword? It makes us feel great…and then, we worry that we have used up our allotment of talent 🙂 Fear not, my friend…there is an inexhaustible supply of awesomeness in your arsenal of giftedness…in fact, I think I will use this thought in an upcoming post….see how amazing you are? Even the act of encouraging you inspires words that wouldn’t otherwise occur to me…thank you for being you…you can’t help but be…and therein lies the saving grace…I know you will never stop writing, because, despite any insecurities, you are a giver…thank you for being such a blessing 🙂

        • Very much so…when you look at it like that it makes you wonder if failing relationships have forgotten this simple rule…kindness…I think neglecting that can start a spiral of decline and resentment. Once the negative aura visits I guess it’s harder and harder to shift it. My latest post is now live too…for better or worse… And excellent if something I say provides a new prompt…might use that next week as an example of unforeseen kindness 😊 Writing is something that comes to me in waves…the troughs between can be deep and dark…but maybe they are also points of unwitting inspiration too…amazing thing this blogging methinks 😊

    • That is indeed a tricky one. However, recognising one needs balance is the irt step…try pros and cons list of like to do versus chores that need to be done. Might throw up something that you could aim at….least that’s what they tell me 🙃

  5. I could see myself while I was reading this! I never really cared and took many dutiful chores and acts of kindness for granted when done by my parents. May be I was in zombie mode back then. Once I moved to another country and started living by my own, then did I realize the need for acknowledgement of the slightest acts of kindness and chores. As you said, nobody does these because it’s fun, but because it needs to be done! And every such act should never be taken for granted. You must have noticed bits and pieces of this in my posts, during the AtoZ Challenge :D. Very meaningful post yet again my friend. 🙂 🙂

    Loved the quote by Louise L.Hay that you quoted! I very much needed it to be reminded. I do not know who said this- “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” But it makes so much sense!!

    • I think as younglings our cares were, perhaps, more focussed on living. I’ve heard it said children are more mindfull than adults because they still have the zest for new things and an awe of life and exuberance. Adults tend to forget these things and enter a mind that sees patterns and, if not careful, the default zombie mind moves in. Much harder to reset if that state of mind has settled for a period of time. 🤕

      Nothing should be taken for granted though as there may come a time when such things stop, in which case there is going to be a point where realisation sets in that something one takes as given is removed or ceases. Probably not the best time to start appreciating what was being done for you. I did think of your A to Z challenge whilst creating this yes 🙃

      And the quote you mentioned is from Alice in Wonderland… In fact it’s actually Alice herself 😊

      Thank you so much for taking the time to make such a detailed comment 😇

      • Yes, true that! There comes a realization point. Sometimes, that may be delayed or we may never realize! I hope the latter doesn’t happen at any cost, as ignorance is not always bliss 😀 Aah, Alice in Wonderland, I should have guessed, even if I didn’t really know, as you always seem to quote from that wonderful book! 🙂 🙂

        • I’m never really certain the adage ignorance is bliss is, in fact, much use to anyone simply because that’s what media and politicos want….I prefer knowing then I am informed about choices and the blogosphere is proper enlightening in that arena 😊 Hmm…this time I shall have to force myself not to use Alice 👻

          • I agree, blogosphere is very enlightening with respect to spreading awareness and knowledge in a positive way! 🙂

            • Quite right, I’ve started saying as much now every time I engage people blogs when they post about this very subject 😊

  6. Hi Gary,
    It’s me again. What program did you use to make your graphic headers? Impressive!
    Janice

    • I’m only tinkering at present…arty and me don’t get on very well 😊

      I use CANVA…it allows graphics for all sorts of social media and has loads of layouts templates and design features. Some of the stock images are free but the rest aren’t expensive and you can upload your own graphics then overlay text or other graphics at your leisure then just download the final image. If I can do this then you’ll have no problem 😊

      • Hi Gary,
        See, you are skilled after all. You should have more confidence. It’s deserved. I met one of your readers, Aura with Writing. Thanks for letting me know about Canva. I will try.
        Janice

        • Confidence?? A mysterious concept that 😊

          CANVA is pretty idiot proof though. The trick now us to find out how to layer designs and fade things…I think it’s easy enough for social media posts though.

          See…prevaricating…work out Twitter or play with pictures 😊

          You actually met Aurawithwriting in person?? That’s pretty awesome indeed. Lovely person she is 😇

  7. HI Gary,
    No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Methinks (I’m sounding like you now. You are rubbing off on me.) that’s how you and I became friendly– you showed me an act of kindness. I love inspirational quotes with graphics.
    I have a compliment for you. When I read your writing, I feel like I’m reading Charles Dickens whom I’ve studied.
    Janice

    • Hi Janice….OMG…you want to take something for that post haste….subliminal implantation of mannerisms could be your undoing and very soon you will, like me….know nothing about blogging at all 😱

      Acts of kindness are real free too…give them out and they have a habit of coming back….it’s such an obvious concept I can’t see why it’s not more popular 😊

      But Dickens…err….seriously that is a most enormous accolade…although I can’t see it myself…I mean, he could write 😊

      • I agree. My favorite was Dickens Great Expectations. Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities– too sad. What’s yours?
        I agree with your opinion on acts of kindness. Like karma– good karma comes back to you I believe. I hope I’ll see you at this weekend’s blog party.
        Janice

        • Oliver Twist and…cliche but think of my writing niche … A Christmas Carol… That’s dark and creepy but rich in cynicism that is still prevalent in today’s society unfortunately.

          Should be there this weekend yes; last time I was on a course so had to go be real 😁

        • Ahh, you see…the truth is always funny….be warned….first thing will be forgetting what you want to put in a post 🤕

  8. Dunno. Benjamin Button? 🙂
    I read that really long sentence without skipping a word, and I very nearly understood about 60.334% of it!
    And I loved “find something you hate doing and watch it go backwards”. Now that sounds like a great plan! 😀

    • Think Tea Party and madness….

      The long sentence was deliberate…metaphoric in the context of prevaricating which is what most people do in the default zombie mind when multiple thoughts ripple together…I’m glad you got that much of it…I might need a translation 🤔
      It is a plan…an inadvertant time machine…sounds dead cheap too 🙃

      • The Mad Hatter?
        With clues like that, who needs Google!
        Did you know that ‘time’ has been mentioned 22 times (24 now) on this post and associated comments!

        • Close…next clue is the Hatter was holding the teapot in which our missing orator was hiding 😊 Good grief…has it really? Is that a subliminal consideration that we are wasting too much of it here I wonder 🤔

          Rather pleased I avoided a chronological reference term here 🙃

                • Then in future I must lay down a better clue trail…a quote hunt as opposed to treasure hunt…hmm…idea forming for a challenge 🤔

                  • Stuff falls into 2 categories – stuff you knows and stuff you don’t. Stuff you knows falls into 2 categories – stuff you can remember and stuff you can’t. Stuff you remember falls into 2 categories – stuff you’re interested in and stuff you ain’t.
                    I guess that at the end of the day – you needs to choose your audience.

                    • Good point although I can never remember whether or not I’ve remembered something to actually forget…I might have known it but I might not….I equate it to hard drives and computers…vast data store but without the FAT intact the route to any of it is a shade up the creek without a paddle in a leaking canoe heading for a waterfall 🤔

                    • Hmm subliminal mind control….oh that’s the media… I think…if I could only recall what I was thinking before starting this reply….

  9. Oh Gary, one thing is for sure, I know whenever I come over here I’m going to leave with a smile. Even though we’re new old friends I can imagine I read this in the tone and inflections of the voice you’d read it in even though I’m not sure what that would be but I don’t read it in my normal tone of voice in my own head if that makes any sense… any who I love this post the points you bring up and the way you go about making those points. Ahhh yes, laundry, we are old rivals. One that often pits my husband’s patience against me… but alas I’m trying to tame that beast. Thank you so much for participating, I very much enjoy reading your reflection posts and love the way this is fitting into your mindful intentions. I hope this week has lots of kindness infused in it!

    • Thanks Niki, I always worry what you might say on the basis it’s your challenge and I ramble…you’re about right in terms of reading and if it comes across in that way then methinks you are probably spot on with the inflections I’d give….have to look into audio books for you 🤔

      I figured everybody who looks after children would nod wisely at laundry and find it mildy funny that it’s actually a kindness that’s rarely thought of as such when glowering at ever full baskets 😊 This week is going to be…testing…half term….I feel there shall be no balance here 😱

      • Oh don’t be silly! I enjoy reading all of the reflections. Tell your truth exactly how you see fit! Another blogger brought up laundry during this challenge as well. She challenged me to think of doing my chores as tending to the house funny enough changing my perspective about it has made my house tending easier. I still don’t love it but I don’t hate it either so that’s a big step 😉 Oh don’t go into this week thinking that way, there doesn’t leave room for balance that way. Be open to accepting the balance that each day holds 😉

        • In that case…. 😊
          I think I commented on that one thinking about it….good concept though…treat the house well and it will return to you a home…🙃
          Not an easy one to convince yourself if though…the chores are fun conundrum 🙃
          Balance…it is indeed key…I shall keep your words in mind 😊

          • Yeah I’m not at the “fun” part but I have accepted that it’s necessary. I have an affirmation I wrote on my vision board to change my perspective- dirty dishes means tummies were fed, dirty laundry means we have clothes to wear, a house to pick up means we have a home to live in… changes the way I look down at having to do the mundane things…makes me grateful to have a place and a family to do those things for… 😮

            • Acceptance is the first part of self enlightenment…turning rage at the chore into how kind am I is a shade on the epiphany of eh? But, it works in terms of inner calmness. Next trick is to make everyone else think similarly when a cup is discarded next to the still hot washing up bowl that you’ve just used to clear up lunch debris with…🙃

              • Who knew chores could have a whole chapter of kindness dedicated to them? 😉

                • You see…if this challenge had never been created just think how incomplete this area of your life would be 😱

                  • I’m definitely getting more out of it than I imagined. I love hearing where the focus took people, reading their reflections and learning from them 🙂

                    • I think it gives a great opportunity to see how different people see their world and apply kindness in varied ways to help others and themselves. I think for me just seeing it all helps me toss the news and media to one side and say..you know what…it’s not a good way to redress their negativity. Need to come up with another engagement activity now for after this finishes 🙃

                    • I love it!! Yes, let’s stop subscribing to the negativity. I’ve felt such a change since I stopped watching the news… I’d love to join in on something to focus on when the challenge is done. I have an idea I’m toying with but if you find or come up with anything let me know 🙂

                    • You could be onto something there…the news is definitely a negative pool of blah these days. Ok once the challenge is done then we come up with a plan…will have a think here too 🙃

                    • How kind of you 🙃 Sorry, that was so on topic a reply….but up yes it could be a very positive thing to do methinks 😊

  10. Wow! The habituation loop is a new concept for me. But I think I understand it now. Yep, I’m really concentrating hard on gratefulness now. It has made such a huge improvement on my life and entire attitude!
    No, I didn’t skim read, but you make my head spin sometimes! I try to keep up with you!
    I did smile, so I guess upload was completed!
    Going right now back to God Strain I. Thanks so much for the edit!! I really appreciate it! And I’m smiling at you!!

    • You are funny…but also right…when I write my mind skews off in all directions. It’s all about how you perceive a situation or, in this case, a chore. This chore was very deliberate as an example too. Very menial and yet one that everybody benefits from…it’s is, of course, synonymous with most chores…but the important part is balance…the selfish kindness for ones own benefit…if you did indeed smile then that’s radiating kindness in action 😊

  11. I love everything about this post, Gary 🙂 I love the sense of humor that made me laugh as I read. I love the very on point quotes and points that you make. I’m not participating in the challenge due to time constraints, but I try to practice kindness on a daily basis. I came to the realization a number of years ago that happiness is a chosen state of mind. I seek balance in all that I do. On a different note, I’m doing laundry now while my husband works and my daughter sleeps. Like you said, it’s one of those things that has to be done. I know my daughter takes it for granted, but that’s partly my fault. I know that my husband does appreciate it just as I appreciate all that he does to contribute to our home. Anyway, I think I’ll stop for now before I start to ramble 🙂 I’m not sure who the final quote belongs to but it is so true. We are in a constant state of flux, changing with each new experience.

    • Thank you so much for the ramble…I fear I share a similar foible…time is a big taker when it comes to challenges which is why I’m not doing more than one at a time… I try very hard to make the quotes fit with the thought train…I’m also an advocate of trying to make people smile as they read…it’s quite a serious topic at times and a very difficult one for those starting on the journey from a bad place. That said smiling is a good form of combating negativity…so if you have then consider yourself a kindness radiation victim 😇 Laundry was deliberate too…I often do ours pondering the merits of such a menial but essential part of life…and have steeled away from separating it all and just doing mine…I was rather interested to see how many people would respond with thoughts of ‘laundry…you are kidding me on this one…surely!’ 😊

      Final quote is from one of my favourite books…but if I tell you now…it might act as a spoiler 👻

      • I’m actually serious on the laundry 🙂 I don’t know how much I’ll get done though. I’m not too worried however. What gets done, gets done 🙂 I love the quote “Smile, it’s contagious” 🙂 I smile and laugh as often as possible. It’s good for the heart and soul. And yes, I probably am a kindness radiation victim. I’d like to call myself a kindness radiation warrior as well 🙂

        • Err…with comments of this ilk a warrior you are…although that was very Yodaesque 🤔 Tell me though…can you now entertain your laundry without chuckling about how kind you are being…later you may reflect it might also be a madness…to chuckle at a pile of clothes…but maybe the chore is eased…for this day at least 🙃 You are absolutely right about smiling and laughing though…it’s something that should not be underestimated at all 👻

          • Haha 🙂 Now that you mention it, I probably will which is awesome 🙂 Empowered by my laundry 🙂 I can’t help but love it! Others may think me mad, but I’ll know the truth 🙂 Affirmation can be achieved through the most menial of tasks 🙂

            • There we go…now you’re feeling the kindness radiating…consider the madness theirs and enlightenment all yours…or await payback at a later date and withdraw the kindness to make a point that self kindness involves on my washing ones own clothes…I’m sure they will soon see the folly by which the granted is being taken 😊

              • My youngest daughter loves Alice in Wonderland. She has a t-shirt that says “We’re all mad here”. She also has the phone case. I think she may be trying to tell me something 🙂 Madness is a matter of perception 🙂 I think if I asked her to do her own laundry, she’d think I’d finally gone mad 🙂 Joking aside, she’s a wonderful girl 🙂 Self kindness is an important concept. I’m kind to myself every time I take time for myself which is daily. The balance allows me to tackle everything else 🙂 I think we all need time to ourselves to recharge our batteries. Life goes on so we need to to refuel on a regular basis to walk or run with it. We all need to find our own pace 🙂

                • Then your youngest has uber taste in literature…although the recent films might be a bit dark depending on how old she is 😊 Oooh new ones just come out too….timely reminder indeed 😊 Self kindness is very important as part of the balance process…unless the weird laundry kindness radiation becomes overwhelming in its delivery…not that I see that happening of course but I did think the way we see chores is mostly as chores as opposed to actually doing things for others and sight of that has been lost in grumpy not appreciated! With you entirely on all of that although..madness….my perception of me is normal…is everyone else that’s insane 🙃

  12. Deep and thought provoking read Gary. And about laundry, don’t get me started! My 18yo daughter has just got back from a camping weekend away and just dumped all her washing in a basket … The kindness in me tonight feels a bit scarce! 🙂

    • Thank you Miriam…I feel your pain…it was one of those things that while writing I was trying not to imagine the eye rolling going on as folk read it…make her read it and smile sweetly as you provide her with the washing machine instruction manual 😊

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