Habit #4: Real movies

When I am tired after a day’s work, I open up my browser window and surf to Netflix or one of its illicit equivalents, to imbibe a mindless action movie that allows me to identify with a hero who slays its opponents with moral indemnity and righteousness. It is fast food for the soul, full of sugar rush action scenes and thick graphical extravaganza, clogging the arteries of our imagination.

During these 90 minute pleasure sessions, I am aware I’m wasting my time and would feel empty, bereft of the difficult poetry of the world in which I want to live.

So I decided to change this habit. Every time I feel inclined to watch a Jason Statham or Bruce Willis knock out bad guys, I search for a real movie instead. Sounds cocky? It’s very simple. A real movie wants to tell us a unique story, it is made with the pain and patience of a director who gave their very best. It is a movie that wants to make an artistic statement. Once upon a time, every movie was like that. The movies served to a large audience in the 1930s are often more intriguing than what we would call niche art-house today.

And it works. It takes a little will power to overcome that initial craving for cheap and empty action, but once you are drawn into a real movie, you are feeding your soul. Afterward, you won’t feel empty, you’ll feel better, be more inspired and perhaps crave healthy movies next time.

If you have no idea which directors you should look into, try Ernst Lubitsch, Akira Kurosawa, Lars von Trier, Jim Jarmusch, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Wong Kar-Wai, Park Chan-wook, Emir Kusturica, Jean Rénoir, Jacques Tati, François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Charles Chaplin, Orson Wells, Elia Kazan, Sergei Eisenstein, Leni Riefenstahl, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Michael Haneke, Fritz Lang, Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sidney Lumet, Steven Soderbergh, Alejandro González Iñarritu, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Mendes, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson,  Win Wenders, Pedro Almodóvar, or Sam Peckinpah.

Habit #4: Real movies was originally published on Meandering home

Habit #2: Language learning

Habits seem to work better if you can divide them in smaller chunks that can give you an instant sense of accomplishment without taking up too much time. One very ‘chunkable’ habit is language learning. We have a plethora of resources at our fingertips, so I won’t go into that here. Google yields all the best language learning blogs, podcasts, video’s and websites, most of which offer excellent free material. I’m not going to mention the name of my favorite one because that is not the point here. There are much better blog posts that do exactly that.

I have tried for some time to keep up practicing language with a website that reminded me every day with e-mails. This went well in the beginning but became cumbersome after a while because the stuff I was learning (example sentences illustrating grammar patterns step by step) didn’t have anything to do with what I needed in real life. So I figured the better way to make a language habit stick is to connect it some something you are already interested in. For example, if I see a tweet about Macron’s 26.000 make-up which of course instills into me an insatiable interest, I force myself to read about it in French. Takes ten minutes, a nice little daily practice. The same thing goes for news about Kim Jong-Un’s ICBMs or Barcelona’s youngest tragedy.

I also use apps to read sentences and short stories, never vocabulary lists. A simple rule of thumb is to keep the learning as natural as possible, just the way a child is exposed to her native language. It is vital to make the time you spend on your daily language habit short enough to keep it up for at least 6 months. Bonne chance.

Habit #2: Language learning was originally published on Meandering home

Habit #1: daily summary of famous literature

Like most people on the Internet, I’m looking for better habits. The Scroll of Facebook and Twitter with its plethora of information and disinformation is an assault on the mind and eats up our time. Binging Netflix can be fun and is really effective to take your mind off of something, but it also messes up your daily rhythm. Watching random YouTube talking heads engaging in a heated debate can be informative and pleasurable (if said talking heads are gifted with rhetorical talent) but it isn’t really constructive.

So whenever I come across something and think “that’s a cool habit” I’ll jot down a quick note here. Because I’m against the culture of commercialism, I will not create a list of “23 habits you should learn now” or “75 habits that will earn you money” or “she tried these 7 habits and you will never guess what happened next…”

I hate that. I hate that so much that I refuse to use it as an instrument on my way to world fame. Here is the little habit that I like today.

It’s a clear and simple ten minute narration of a work of literature. Our Tube is full of them. I listen to it during my first coffee break of the day. It’s relaxing, solidifies my knowledge about these books (so I can refer to them or quote from them in my articles), and it inspires my own writing.

Habit #1: daily summary of famous literature was originally published on Meandering home