I grew up on a farm, and the plague of my young life was misbehaving cows. News that the cows were out periodically sent the whole family into a flurry. “Out” sometimes meant the cows were in a neighbor’s corn field or on the highway. This occasionally happened in the middle of the night. To this day, when I drive down any highway, I automatically scan any and all herds of cows for signs of trouble.
The thing is, if cows want outside the bounds of a barbed wire fence, they can pretty much plow through. But my dad always says that if you can keep them in for a few days, they’ll forget they know how to get out.
It does seem to work that way. The cows get out several days in a row at generally the same spot (even though the fence has been repaired). Then, for months at a time, they behave perfectly.
Even though I know what good and healthy disseminating looks like, sometimes I have days that seem defined by bad behavior. However, I’ve found that just one day of good behavior is enough to get me back on track for several weeks.
For me, when temptation (the Internet, the d***ed spider solitaire, the pool) is overwhelming, the best thing to do is simply corral myself to my desk chair for a little while–no matter how bad it feels. Because the next day, thoughts of temptations have receded, and I’m able to focus better and for longer.