Hacking your life is a form of self sabotage

Everywhere we look, we are being offered life hacks: biohacking to make the most of our body or immune system; short cuts to health, fitness, better eating; quick tips to bring us wellbeing, resilience, even spiritual enlightenment. In practically every area of life it seems there is someone offering a quick fix answer to whatever we want to achieve.

It’s easy to get sucked in. Who doesn’t want to get things done more quickly, to feel like they’re making progress, to tick things off their to-do list, to hit some goals?

The problem is that this constant quest for speed, for fast results, to get it done, at heart doesn’t feel very meaningful. I believe all it really brings us is light superficial experiences, entertainment and a false sense of progress that is not really progress at all, because it doesn’t make a deep change, one that is sustainable, and sustaining. If we only work at the surface-level we only get surface-level outcomes.  

What are we missing out on in the rush to hack our lives?

The pleasure of taking our time, surrendering to the process and really allowing the depth of it to sink into our soul so it becomes important and meaningful. The struggle of sticking with a practice when it gets tough. The sometimes harsh reality of seeing our patterns come up again and again, wriggling in the uncomfortableness of what we see mirrored before us, as it shows us where we still need to grow and develop, and also what is possible. It’s not always comfortable but I believe the slow road is the road to genuine personal growth.

When we hack our lives, we are cheating ourselves. It’s a vicious form of self-sabotage, made worse by the false illusion that it’s going to make a difference and that we are going to grow as a result of it.

This is what we cheat ourselves of through taking the path of life hacking:

  • The satisfaction of noticing small slow changes over time, small changes that grow into big shifts – in attitude, in ability and in empowerment
  • The profound pleasure that can be found in the nuance and subtlety of a practice, only noticeable when we slow down enough to drink deeply of an experience
  • The mystery and insight that arise when we practice something over and over again, allowing ourselves to open to a shift in consciousness that we can then expand and grow into
  • A felt understanding of what commitment really means
  • Exploration, turning over the stones to discover what lies beneath (whether that’s good, bad or ugly), naming it for what it is and then working with what we have discovered
  • Seeing our patterns coming up, what’s hard, what’s easy, and noticing how we can work with those patterns, and how we can apply the lessons we learn to other areas of our lives
  • The richness of experience in discovering how the same action or practice can vary so much depending on how we are in that moment – what impact does our health, location, level of tiredness or restedness, breathing, have on our experience of that practice, and what fresh insight does noticing that bring

Life hacking directly impacts our interaction with our saboteurs, those negative voices that we hear in our heads every day, telling us what we are doing wrong, how we are going to fail, judging ourselves and others. We all have them, and each of us has one or two saboteurs that are really prominent.

One of the most insidious is what I call the Over-Enthusiast. It’s insidious because it can mask itself as curiosity and a love of learning and adventure. In reality, it’s constantly jumping on to the next new thing, wanting stimulation, excitement and fun, all the time. When difficult feelings come up it doesn’t want to know and will look for the nearest distraction. I believe that the hacking lifestyle is feeding the Over-Enthusiast in all of us. It encourages us to skip quickly away from anything that feels hard, only to focus on what seems simple easy and doable, and ignoring the benefits of the slow approach.

I am not saying the whole of our life has to be slow. I’m not saying don’t do anything quickly, don’t ever use life hacking or take short cuts when it’s appropriate and helpful. I do believe though that there is massive value in taking the time to find a practice that you are truly committed to, one that you bring discipline, structure, groundedness and commitment to, and that when you do, you are able to see and feel the richness and flavour that it brings to your life.