So we are addicted to a certain way of living. We are addicted to living permanently attached to our devices and often addicted to stress and burnout. For me the first change, the first habit that I changed, the keystone habit as it is known in habit literature was sleep. I went from four to five hours sleep to seven to eight hours sleep. And that transformed my life truly.
Now, of course, we have conclusive scientific findings that sleep is really a miracle drug, it improves our health and strengthens our immune system, improves our mental clarity and makes us more joyful in our daily lives. And I recommend that we start simply by adding 30 minutes to how much sleep we are getting. I think everybody can do that and people who say they can’t do that I think need to look at how much time do they spend watching House of Cards or staying up to Jon Stewart or anything like that, you know. We have a lot more discretionary time than we think.
Meditation is another step that I recommend and I recommend starting with five minutes and recognizing the thoughts will keep coming. But what meditation teaches us is to not attach ourselves to our thoughts and to find some stillness beyond the thoughts. And I don’t see meditation as one more thing to put on our to do list. Meditation does us. It’s something that enhances the quality of the rest of our day simply by connecting us to that place in us, that center that every religion and many philosophers and scientists have talked about using different language which is the place of wisdom, strength and peace in us. The place that Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, referred to when he said give me a place to stand and I can move the world.
Well the great thing about introducing mindfulness and meditation into our lives is that it does make it easier for us to unplug from our day and actually go to sleep. And having some rituals, a little transition period could be just ten minutes between our day life and actually going to sleep is incredibly helpful. I have such rituals that I recommend in the book like having a hot bath or shower to kind of wash the day away, making sure as I do that my bedroom is a device free zone. I don’t take my smartphones to bed. I don’t even take my kindle or my iPad to bed. I just read real books in bed and I prefer to read books that are not related to work, you know, like poetry or philosophy or novels. And as we learn through meditation for example to still our mind, it becomes easier for us to be able to go to sleep.