“If you take the long route home every night, you may never learn there is a shorter one.”
— Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
On Braving a Workout Mat for Two Hours
I recently tweeted about self-respect and self-improvement—the idea resonated with enough people to warrant me sharing why I tweeted that specific idea. If you don’t follow Nudge on Instagram or Twitter, it was the following tweet.
“Self-respect begets self-improvement! If you’re sitting in front of a blank page or a laid out workout mat or staring at a pile of books you haven’t read yet, ask yourself this: Do I respect myself enough to go beyond this feeling of complacency?”
I believe everyone runs into a rut when doing something because you do it every day. Sometimes, that is often not enough. You need the motivation to keep going; you need something to tell you to move. In my opinion, everyone gets those with all sorts of habits no matter how long they have been at it.
Yes, they may get out of it quickly, but they do have it. If they don’t, I believe they’re lying.
So, I had one of those days. I laid out my workout mat, as routine dictates, with the dumbbells and towel beside it. HIIT is a sweaty phenomenon! In any case, I sat on a stool sipping my pre-workout drink and doing my Elevate and Duolingo lessons. I completed them. Then, an hour passed. Then, another.
I couldn’t begin working out. Somehow, as I sat, loaded with caffeine with two “good” activities for the day already under my belt. Three, if you count reading. Yet, I didn’t want to do it. We’ve all been there.
At that point, I don’t know what happened—perhaps, it was a lyric in some song playing the background—that made me ask: do I not respect myself?
I’d been sitting there for more than two hours, scrolling mindlessly through feed after feed: Reddit, then Instagram, then replying to some texts and emails. I was in my workout clothes; everything was laid out.
The only thing that was left then was the self-respect, in my opinion. If I didn’t work out today, I thought, then I’m a fool to myself. I’m dragging this way longer than I should.
Five minutes into that question, I started working out. It was a good session that day.
Then, I sent that tweet.
What Do You Signal on Social Media?
I was talking to a friend this afternoon when I realised, mid-conversation, that in our connected-at-all-times world, we’re all always signalling something. Often, people signal magnanimity on social media, genuine or otherwise. Others signal different thing such as vanity, productivity, aestheticism, or any other value, really.
For example, I know friends whose Instagram profiles are all about bringing changes in society. My own Instagram is a flywheel or lighthouse for whatever else I do. So, in some way, I’m signalling the doing of things or productivity. My signal, after much contemplation, is that if I can do it, then anyone can.
I feel an individual must know what they are signalling, and that takes a huge amount of self-awareness. I think it is also a good exercise to try and put that in a statement if you’re active on social media.
If you don’t use much of it, then that’s a different scenario. You may still be signalling something coherently in all your messages and the way you act online. But for those who actively use platforms like Twitter, Instagram or even Reddit, it’s imperative to know your signal.
My reasoning is simple: even if you don’t think about it, you act a certain way on these platforms. There are certain things you wouldn’t engage in or share and vice versa. Those often become rules, in themselves, unsaid but which hold on who you are online.
It is important, therefore, to be aware of and in-sync with your online presence. Does it reflect who I truly am? Am I signalling things for the sake of it? Do I show a lifestyle I cannot sustain? Do I deliberately hide parts of who I am or specific views?
All of these are serious questions to ask and answer yourself if you’re active on any platform because they ensure that your outer and inner selves remain in-sync. That, in turn, ensures that you remain at peace.
Knowing what your signal is, of course, the first step to answering all of those deeper questions.
To Read: Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein’s Nudge
“A good rule of thumb is to assume that ‘everything matters.'”
I finally finished reading this book. Honestly, I first began it, and then it sat in the corner of my Kindle shelf for a month or so until I picked it again and read through the entire thing in a few nights. I remember sharing it on Nudge Weekly #26 which was a few weeklies ago.
Anyway, as I had said then, everything related to behaviour that you’ve read in the past years after this book’s publication can be traced back to it. Even simple changes that your government has made can be interpreted in the words of how Thaler and Sunstein described nudging.
You should definitely pick this book up if you want to understand how behaviour is influenced in the most common scenarios to move society to better, more favourable actions.
Beware: once you do, you’ll start seeing these everywhere.
What’s On My Mind?
Mark Manson’s Chemistry-Compatibility Matrix for relationships. I’ve been able to fit every single romantic relationship, long or short, into that matrix neatly. Perhaps, too neatly. Still, I feel that understanding may pave the way forward for when I choose to start dating again.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
I wrote about what I called the Fresh Start Fallacy on the blog last Saturday. The idea is simple: during December or on Saturday or any “end of the human construct in how we measure time”, we tend to promise that we’ll start on the next perfect checkpoint—January, Monday, XX:00 PM, et al.
However, it’s just code for procrastination when we do it. Instead, starting now is a better strategy.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.