…, Or: The Best Habit Is a Tool

Convenience. It is our time’s great guideline. And it’s what makes us live ever more on this world, like tourists just visiting, rather than truly at home in this world.

Even “lifehackers,” who seem the best example of people who still want to learn more when they are out of school (or given the state of today’s schooling, maybe especially then), for personal development and to get better, tend to look for the hacks that their moniker comes from: ways of learning and getting things done more easily and more quickly.

Whether lifehacker or run-of-the-mill, what has the greatest hidden effect in guiding our lives along certain lines are all the routine habits we just have to perform for the maintenance work of life – sleeping, being clothed, working, eating, learning.

Some of those are amenable to “hacking.” For example, you can eat more consciously by keeping a photographic food diary, or move more in your everyday life by making a game out of the number of steps you take per day.

And still, the vast machine of appliances designed to make life easier and keep the consumerist lifestyle going is all around us. Even as our tool use finds ever more attention when it is about smartphones and implanted devices (to the point of establishing cyberanthropology – again), we overlook the negative habits and lessons that our everyday technology imparts us with.

Making coffee? Just start the coffee maker.
Baking bread? You need a ready-made mix and a bread maker.
Pizza? Ready-made frozen, just to heat up, or delivery?
Shaving? Safety razor or electric?
Entertainment and work? Just sit at your computer and trust that it all works. If not, blame the stupid programmers.

And so it goes. Everything is convenient, provided, easy.
You are powerful in all you can do, just feel the power. You are the master of your things, just see what they do for you.
And when it doesn’t all work as planned, it’s not your fault. Blame the companies just after your money, and fall for the promise of the next great thing anyways.

Keep it up. Don’t stop.

A good cooking knife, for example, replacement for so many kitchen gadgets (more on ChiliCult – click image for article; picture from Güde)

You stop and think, you may actually notice how shallow it all is. You may get up and take note of what you get, and what you want: a life that is comfortable numbness punctuated by the empty promise of “great experiences” that are also just conveniently provided, all-inclusive but hardly real? Or a life that really warrants the label, that had its natural ups and downs, its deep engagement and lasting excitement, the meaning and purpose you gave it in they way you shaped it?

So, it may be time for deeply, really, living again – and for tools and technologies that are used in such a way as to support the better lives of less consumption and more personal growth. Skills and habits alike.

There are a few areas and tools of simple/simply better living I have recently been experimenting with – cooking, real eating, and heating, everyday fitness, and yes, straight-razor shaving for the men,… – that we will have a look at in coming posts.