Bright Lines

We remember images far better than words

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We remember images far better than words

In Willpower, Dr. Roy Baumeister tells us:

Bright lines are clear, simple, unambiguous rules. You can’t help but notice when you cross a bright line. If you promise yourself to drink or smoke ‘moderately,’ that’s not a bright line. It’s a fuzzy boundary with no obvious point at which you go from moderation to excess. Because the transition is so gradual and your mind is so adept at overlooking your own peccadilloes, you may fail to notice when you’ve gone too far. So you can’t be sure you’re always going to follow the rule to drink moderately. In contrast, zero tolerance is a bright line: total abstinence with no exceptions anytime. It’s not practical for all self-control problems—a dieter cannot stop eating all food—but it works well in many situations. Once you’re committed to following a bright-line rule, your present self can feel confident that your future self will observe it, too.

We want to remember to create “bright lines” not “fuzzy boundaries” for what we do and don’t want to do in life.

I will play fewer video games is a “fuzzy boundary”. I will only play video games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is a “bright line”.

I will drink less sugar is a “fuzzy boundary”. I will not drink sugar is a “bright line”. I will only drink 1 sugary beverage a week is a “bright line”.

I need to eat more healthily is a “fuzzy boundary”. I don’t eat foods with flour is a “bright line”.

I need to read less news is a “fuzzy boundary”. I only read the news on Wednesday is a “bright line”. I only read positive news is a bright line. Similarly, zero news is a “bright line”.

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Bright Lines
Episode 5