Today I want to talk about the trickier habits. The elusive ones that don’t fall into an concrete action plan. Mindset habits. Thought habits. Character habits. The habits that don’t have a tangible form.
Or… listening to your body.
These are great habits. And none of them make much sense to schedule to only specific times of day. We want to make it a practice to be grateful, not only while doing a gratitude journal, but all the time. And we want a positive mindset all day long, not just when doing a visualization or repeating affirmations in the morning. Listening to our body is not only beneficial when it’s in severe pain, but also when it’s tired, or hungry, or irritated. It’s a great goal to be kind to others, and, hopefully, all the time, not just when we feel like it. Not just when it feels convenient.
Habits like this require a strategy of random cueing.
Meaning that you need to start coming back to these practices at various times of the day, instead of in a specific context. This goes against pretty much everything I teach about habits, right? What happened to specific cue setting and action plans? Well, I think those are still super important here, and I think if you DO keep a consistent practice like, say, gratitude journaling, it will bleed into how you act the rest of the day.
However, random cues can take things a step further. And that’s where this nifty little free app comes in.
Randomly Remind Me
This app is almost ridiculously simplistic. It has no styling to it. The design is very minimalist. But it does the job. As far as I can tell from using it for a month or so, this app has only one real task. It will randomly remind you of anything you want. You just tell it the time frame during which it can send you the reminders, and the frequency.
So here’s how I’m using the app to increase my gratitude on a daily basis.
Here you can see the main screen. I have created one reminder: See Beauty. When it is triggered, it simply creates a reminder in my notifications bar that says “See Beauty.” That’s it.
Here are the settings. You can see I set this up to remind me every day of the week, between 9am and 8pm, 5 random times a day.
And here is my success rate. Every time that the reminder pops up, I have the option to ignore it by swiping it away, or pushing a check mark on the notification to indicate that I followed through. For me, following through just means actively looking up from my phone, and taking in anything in my surroundings that is beautiful, with gratitude and appreciation. If I see the notification and I just swipe it away, it means I did not bother to look up and complete the moment of gratitude.
So how am I doing?
I have a 60% success rate, which means that 60% of the time, when I see the reminder, I take a moment to bring gratitude and mindfulness to the moment. 40% of the time, I’m just swiping away and not engaging in gratitude. Maybe because I’m in a bad mood, or I’m in the middle of doing other things, or I really don’t see anything beautiful about the moment I’m currently in. I know most of the time it’s just that the app is catching me at inopportune moments (it is random, after all). Obviously, you can see that on December 6, 7, and 8, I swiped away every time, as I was pretty busy that week. I think moving forward, if I reduce the frequency from 5 to 3 times a day, I’ll have more success with it. Quality over quantity.
So as it currently stands, 60% might not seem like a high success rate, but still, think about it. The 60% of the time that I am engaging in gratitude are random moments where I had no plans to practice gratitude. Since I started using this app it has notified me 387 times, and on 231 of those times, I actively stopped what I was doing to practice gratitude.
What this app is accomplishing is taking my daily gratitude practice and helping me put it into action throughout the day.
In the long run, the hope is that it will make gratitude a more automatic practice for me. That I will more naturally seek and find beauty in my environment.
Think about the habits you want to form that cannot be easily tracked with an action plan. Maybe you want to start being more mindful, making more eye contact, performing more acts of kindness and generosity. With an app like this, you have a way of refining your character, little by little, day by day.
Of course, a practice like this is most successful when complimented by a more intentional routine, like gratitude journaling, giving to charity, or meditating. But a few random reminders a day have the potential to take that routine and turn it into a new way of thinking and being in the world. This is where small shifts compound and transform your life, your outlook, and your character.
Where would you benefit from being randomly reminded this week?