I can’t and I don’t 

Every time you tell yourself “I can't”, you're creating a feedback loop that is a reminder of your limitations. This terminology indicates that you're forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do.

In comparison, when you tell yourself “I don't”, you're creating a feedback loop that reminds you of your control and power over the situation. It's a phrase that can propel you towards breaking your bad habits and following your good ones.

“I can't” and “I don't” are words that seem similar and we often interchange them for one another, but psychologically they can provide very different feedback and, ultimately, result in very different actions. They aren't just words and phrases. They are affirmations of what you believe, reasons for why you do what you do, and reminders of where you want to go.

The ability to overcome temptation and effectively say no is critical not only to your physical health, but also to maintaining a sense of well–being and control in your mental health.

To put it simply: you can either be the victim of your words or the architect of them. Which one would you prefer?

James Clear 


Each Step

The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decision, the more our heart softens - or better perhaps, comes alive.  

Each step in life which increases my self-confidence, my integrity, my courage, my conviction also increases my capacity to choose the desirable alternative, until eventually it becomes more difficult for me to choose the undesirable rather than the desirable action.       

On the other hand, each act of surrender and cowardice weakens me, opens the path for more acts of surrender, and eventually freedom is lost. With each step along the wrong road it becomes increasingly difficult for people to admit that they are on the wrong road, often only because they have to admit that they must go back to the first wrong turn, and must accept the fact that they have wasted energy and time.     

Erich Fromm, The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil    

Routine and Ritual

While routine aims to make the chaos of everyday life more containable and controllable, ritual aims to imbue the mundane with an element of the magical. The structure of routine comforts us, and the specialness of ritual vitalizes us. A full life calls for both — too much control, and we become mummified; too little excitement and pleasurable discombobulation, and we become numb. After all, to be overly bobulated is to be dead inside — to doom oneself to a life devoid of the glorious and ennobling messiness of the human experience.

Maria Popova writing in Brain Pickings

Make it a Habit

During one of my railroad journeys… a half-dozen of us were shaving in the men’s lounge. As always in such close and crowded quarters after a night on the train, this group of strangers was not disposed to be gay, and there was little conversation and that little was mostly mumbled.

Then a man came in wearing on his face a broad smile. He greeted us all with a cherry good morning, but received rather unenthusiastic grunts in return. As he went about his shaving he was humming, probably quite unconsciously, a gay little tune. It got a bit on the nerves of some of the men Finally one said rather sarcastically, “You certainly seem to be happy this morning! Why all the cheer?”

“Yes,” the man answered, “as a matter of fact, I am happy. I do feel cheerful.” Then he added, “I make it a habit to be happy.”

That is all that was said, but I am sure that each man in that lounge left the train with those interesting words in mind, “I make it a habit to be happy.”

The statement is really very profound, for our happiness or unhappiness depends to an important degree upon the habit of mind we cultivate. That collection of wise sayings, the book of Proverbs, tells us that “…he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15).

In other words, cultivate the merry heart; that is, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast, which is to say you can enjoy life every day.

Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking