Progress of My Behavior Modification Project

Greetings! and welcome to this short blog. Recently, I have attempted to create a personal program that would help push me to increase the number of times I practice meditation per day. The following frameworks you will see below utilize all the things I have learned during my General Psychology class. If you feel that any of these are applicable to your life, please don’t hesitate to give them a try!

Baseline Data and Context

I have been meditating for 5 years now, and it has brought me a slew of benefits namely:

  • Improved emotional control — I no longer lash out whenever I am stressed or upset.
  • Fewer feelings of FOMO — I no longer feel the need to be connected all the time and have less anxiety due to the fear of missing out
  • Increased appreciation for life — I now notice the small things and appreciate the blessings I previously didn’t notice. Even things like breathing make me smile.
  • Increased presence — People now compliment me on how great of a listener I am, and I am better able to hold down conversations with people.
  • Improved performance in habit building — During my 5 years of meditating, I was able to quit social media for good and establish an unbreakable and consistent workout routine.

Although I am very happy with this, my meditation routine has plateaued to a maximum of 20 minutes per day. I have tried longer sessions (45 and 60-minutes) before, but I felt that these were not practical due to the amount of time they consume at any one time.

Considering that face-to-face classes are coming soon for me, I felt that it would be a great idea to prepare myself mentally for the barrage of stress that would come as a result of the commute, studies, responsibilities, and social life.

Below are two tables that can give you an idea of where I’m at now:

Data for the past 5 months…
Data for the past 5 years…

General Goal

With this project, and the intent to deepen my meditation practice, I have set a goal of doubling my meditation practice and amplifying its benefits to my wellbeing.

Reinforcement Strategies

I have designed a simple and easy-to-remember reinforcement strategy that takes into consideration the concepts of positive reinforcement, and operant conditioning. You may notice that I eliminated any form of punishment in the system — this is so that I can avoid associating any negative feelings of frustration with the exercise. The schedule of reinforcement has also been set to Variable so that my association sticks with the routine and not the reward.

The following section below serves as my journal which highlights my progress and implementation of the project. I shall be updating this article daily as I go along.

Week 1 (Apr. 17–23)

Goal: Meditate for an extra 20-minute session every night, daily for 2/7 days.

Sunday: No extra meditation

Monday: No extra meditation

Tuesday: I felt extra motivated, and was able to do a full 20-minute session before bed. I rewarded myself with a very long power nap the next day.

Wednesday: No extra meditation — I attempted to do it today, but I felt too tired.

Thursday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. Rewarded me with a self-hug immediately after.

Friday: No extra meditation

Saturday: No extra meditation

Summary of data (note that the yellow line represents the goal, while the blue lines represent the actual performance):

Notes: I have found that the biggest challenge for me in doing night meditations is combatting the tiredness that comes with doing school requirements directly before.

Verdict: Goal achieved

Week 2 (Apr. 24–30)

Goal: Meditate for an extra 20-minute session every night, daily for 4/7 days.

Sunday: No extra meditation

Monday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. Rewarded me with a self-hug immediately after.

Tuesday: No extra meditation

Wednesday: No extra meditation

Thursday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. Rewarded me with a self-hug immediately after.

Friday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. No reward was given.

Saturday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. Rewarded me with a hot shower immediately after.

Summary of data:

Notes: Since this week was full of requirements from school, I delayed my bedtime by one hour so I have time to calm down and prepare for the night exercise. I noticed that I feel much lighter during the day, and my sleep has been getting deeper.

Verdict: Goal achieved

Week 3 (May 1–7)

Goal: Meditate for an extra 20-minute session every night, daily for 7/7 days.

Sunday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. No reward was given.

Monday: Successfully did a session, and rewarded me with a massage treatment the next day after class.

Tuesday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. No reward was given.

Wednesday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. No reward was given.

Thursday:

Friday: Successfully did a 20-minute meditation. No reward was given.

Saturday: Successfully did a session, and rewarded me with some me-time and a solo bike ride around the village.

Summary of data:

Notes: I noticed myself spending less screentime, and for some reason, I am more aware when doing simple things such as getting up or sitting down.

Verdict: Goal achieved

Conclusions and Key Findings

I originally created this personal program to help myself achieve a greater level of mindfulness. After completing the three weeks, and successfully doubling my meditation duration per day, I now feel as if I am a much better person compared to before. Although it is difficult to describe, I now feel more aware, have deeper sleep (and more vivid dreams), and have this strange feeling as if I were on vacation. I am really happy, and I plan to set the 2 x 20-minute daily meditation as my new baseline.

With regards to the program itself, I have found that rewarding myself immediately after fulfilling my task was incredibly effective. Overall, I see myself applying this program to other aspects of my life. One point for improvement, however, was that I also need to take into account future challenges — in this program, one hindrance for me that almost broke my streak was the end-of-day fatigue that tempted me to just go straight to bed instead of meditating. I now know that it is a better idea to delay my bedtime by around an hour so I have more time to meditate effectively.

Takeaway

Thank you for taking the time to read this quick blog. I hope this has served as an inspiration for you to create your own self-improvement program. Please do remember that you have more control over your psychology than you think, and it is always possible to build upon good habits and reduce bad ones. All it takes is a little self-awareness, and proper implementation of reinforcements to push forward!

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