How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off

April 25, 2006

In response to Steve Pavlina's "How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off":

I like his take on training the body to act without thinking. The ways that the mind can control the body's action are many-fold. For example, you can think "Arm, raise!" and it usually works (unless it has fallen asleep or has been recently exercised too much). Or, you can think "Face, cry!" and there's an intermediate step of first conjuring a sad memory and then pushing it into your subconscious until it returns emotions that potentially result in tears. Or, finally, in the case of the alarm clock where you're trying to influence behavior at a future time when the consciousness isn't at its strongest, you can use thought to train the body in a Pavlovian sense to react automatically to certain stimulus. It's a subtle form of self-brainwashing, and I think this type of behavior is under-utilized in our lives. Because we place so much weight and significance on the power of logic and free will, we oftentimes overlook the fact that 90% of our daily behavior is automatic… either trained into us by our parents, or our peers, or habits we picked up along the way. The true victory of the will over our behaviors (if that's something that you're interested in) will come when we embrace techniques of automatic behavior (sadly demonized by the term "brainwashing") and conscious habit-forming. I like this quote:

We can go a bit further and observe that “benevolent habituation” — the ability to do the right thing by unconscious or half-conscious reflex — is precisely what we normally mean by expertise.

Habituation, Expertise, and Undo Operations

It's true. We associate concepts like "being in the zone" or doing something "by instinct" as the highest form of skill. When you know something like the back of your hand, or could do something with your hands tied behind your back, or could do it while asleep, then you know you really know something. The ironic part is that this only happens when your mind stops thinking about it.

A bunch of the exercises in my list of 101 exercises will involve playing around with our system of habits… forming them, breaking them, revising them, re-experiencing them. Because nothing is as new and fresh than going against habit (breaking out of the routine), and nothing is as instinctual and skillfully done as a well-formed habit.


2 Responses to “How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off”

  1. Maggie Says:

    So have you practiced your wake up routine in the middle of the day?

    I like the bit about the snuggle alarm. That’s what I don’t like about this whole getting out of bed right away–no morning snuggle. Maybe that’s the good thing about accidentally waking up three hours earlier than you mean–hey, it’s 4am again! Snuggle time!

    OH or maybe we could get OUT of bed right away and then go snuggle on the couch. YES.

  2. Pronoia Says:

    I haven’t gone so far as to try the whole “practice alarm” thing… but I haven’t really felt like I needed it. I remember when I was a kid I used to pride myself on being able to wake up immediately (unlike my sister who had trouble waking up), and I just re-installed that behavior and it seems to work well.

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