Evgenya was observing in Chile for a couple weeks, and I had the kids.
One night Reuben woke up crying. I tried the usual stuff and nothing worked; he was alternating between crying and screaming (we later realized he was having night terrors), and after a couple hours I lost it and yelled at him. In the morning he woke up early, and I was so tired and frustrated I punched a door frame.
I didn’t particularly like myself at that moment. This wasn’t the father I wanted to be and I decided to become a more patient person.
A few months later I ran across a technique that many people had used successfully to stop complaining. Presumably, the less you complain and the more you focus on the things going right in your life, the happier you are.
Ok, I’ll buy that.
I wondered if the idea would work for patience. It seemed like it would work for anything you wanted to stop doing.
The concept was simple; you wear a wristband and switch it to the other wrist when you slip up. That’s it. No beating yourself up, no drama. It’s not a punishment, it’s an attention mechanism — you’re making yourself AWARE of your behavior, and surprise surprise, your brain can take it from there.
I still had a bunch of rubber wristbands I had made for a conference, so getting started was easy enough.
At first I found myself switching wrists a lot, sometimes multiple times in one day. Slowly it stretched out for longer periods of time and after 5 months I hit my goal; 21 days straight. (In theory that’s when you’ve got your new behavior reasonably locked-in.)
I hoped to get better at not losing my cool (which happened) but what I didn’t expect was that I’d simply become a more patient person. My nature changed. I’m calmer inside. Same external stimulus, different internal reaction.
I’m thinking about what I want to do next with the wristband. I like the idea of going through life, slowly mastering various aspects of my personality. There’s no shortage of “opportunity” either. I would love to someone who never judges others, never complains, never doubts himself, doesn’t make unwarranted assumptions, and isn’t afraid.