We all have preferences in life. For me, cooking did not make the list. Since eating healthy homemade food every day is a choice my husband Hari and I have made, cooking is a mandatory activity that needs to be done multiple times every day. While my culinary skills haven’t grown leaps and bounds, we have learnt a lot during the process of cooking, almost always outside the realm of food.
This simple activity has made our cooking enjoyable, driving pleasant and workouts fun. It gave us a lot of food for thought while we were cooking for our stomachs, and made us a little bit better every day in numerous ways.
Wondering our little hack is? Read on to know.
Our little mind hack: Temptation Bundling
While cooking we listen to podcasts, interviews, TED talks, and even Coursera courses, all of which have expanded our mind. I learnt from a Freaknomics podcast episode that this process, where we combine an enjoyable activity with an essential, but not so interesting activity is called temptation bundling.
Regular to Gym
I started using this trick for my gym and during my bicycling time as well, so that the will power required for me to drag myself into the gym or mount the bicycle is reduced. It helped me enjoy the activity better. This not only improved my attendance at the gym, it even increased my time in there. I often work out until a podcast episode is completed, thus putting in more reps. On the flip side, I wrap up earlier when the Bluetooth headphones or the phone itself run out of battery.
All those who drive in India, and more specifically in metro cities like Mumbai know how stressful commutes can be. Whether you drive or commute by crowded trains, it is frustrating. The Internet is often choppy, even if you use cheaper alternatives like Jio. Long commutes is where we listen to audiobooks.
Audiobooks have also made our commute knowledgeable and enjoyable. We are calmer in traffic, and more uncaring when a driver suddenly cuts across us or performs one of several stunts we often get to see on Indian roads.
Modelling from the leaders:
Though path-breaking for us, temptation bundling has been repeated many times over by many of the thought leaders we listen to. Thought leaders are intentional and deliberate about how they spend their day, hours and even minutes and never waste an opportunity to enrich their minds and lives.
Be more and do more
Combining audiobooks with various other everyday activities was the single most important reason I managed to read 30 books last year, more than half of them being in audio format.
Some queries answered
We have had a lot of questions on this and I wanted to answer some of them here.
Q: Are you able to really listen while you drive?
A: We have two parts in the brain, which the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman calls System 1 and System 2. Both driving and listening to audio in a familiar language and accent are System 1 functions. System 1 is a master multi-tasker and can comfortably handle multiple things at the same time, so long as you are fluent in them.
But when something on the road calls for immediate attention, like a turn that you have to take in a not so familiar route, a pedestrian emerging out of nowhere like they often do, a sudden change of course by the vehicle in front, System 2 takes over. The worst outcome, as Hari mentions during such moments while driving, is that he misses a few sentences from the audio and we have to rewind.
If the drive is full of sudden moments, we stop listening, not because it is unsafe to drive, but because the alert part of the brain will ignore the podcast as background noise.
Q: Why don’t you cook/drive/work out mindfully instead of listening to distracting stuff?
A: This was a bit difficult to answer as it came from my mom. It is a matter of preference. Temptation bundling is quicker in helping me joyfully comply than trying hard to coax my brain with will power.
Q: Why don’t you guys just talk to each other instead of having to listen to all these things?
A: We don’t have to. We get to do temptation bundling and enjoy learning and doing new things together. We live alone. Our parents live seperately and we don’t have kids. So we incessantly talk to each other. These audiobooks and podcasts give us a lot more topics for discussion which is much better than staring at a blank space waiting for the other person to say something.
Q: Why don’t you listen to music while you drive and relax?
A: We find learning to be very relaxing. On the other hand, listening to loud radio jockeys and tuneless Bollywood songs that are often played as popular favourites (Himesh Reshammiya, item numbers and songs filled with expletives from Mumbai / Delhi slang) on practically every radio channel is a lot more stressful.
So, would you like to start your journey with some free audiobooks? Check out Audible. On signing up, you get two audiobooks free. Even if you discontinue your membership, you get to keep the books already downloaded. Isn’t that cool?
So keep calm and listen to audiobooks.