I received great feedback on your first “assignment” – reflection in silence and solitude – it empowers me to share my second assignment with you, my readers.

In our ethics class we have four reflection assignments to get our students thinking about ways in which we can habituate new and better ways of being in the world. Aristotle spoke about the power of habituation to become better versions of ourselves and seek happiness in our daily lives.

But first we must create space in our lives to see what needs to change.

The assignment for my students was a Media Fast. For 5 days, my students had to remove one form of media (favorite app, streaming TV, or movies, etc.) from their lives. Then, they had to use the time they normally spend on this form of media and instead spend it doing something that is productive (homework, better relationships, serving others). Finally, they owed me a reflection on what they noticed about themselves, their relationships, and what kind of changes they might make in their lives.

Whaaaat no Netflix, Instagram, YouTube, remove my favorite social media app from my phone????? Ok, I have nothing against these forms of media, only when used to excess.

I read through my student’s reflections, humbled by their responses. They began to see how much time had been devoted to what they thought was important only to realize that it wasn’t that important at all. One student titled his reflection “Unplugged and Empowered” while another wrote about “Disconnecting from Instant Gratification” and how technology had enabled him “to constantly farm dopamine.” Another student recognized how much of his family’s conversation revolved around the meaningless entertainment they saw on social media. Wanting to create a new family dynamic, he challenged his family to participate in the media fast as well.

Another woman said she had a bit of an epiphany while reflecting on her media fast. The app she thought helped to keep her connected with her friends, instead prevented her from developing deeper relationships. The time she “found” with the app now deleted allowed her to reconnect with her friends and see more people.

After this exercise some students reinstalled their apps. Some set time limits on their media, or kept their apps deleted. Fasting is a time to empty ourselves of certain desires and create opportunity for new habits. We talk a lot about habituation in our ethics class which includes practicing our virtues, so we become who we want to be.

What are you willing to fast from? Let me know me know how this works for you and how fasting might become a regular habit.

Get started… you have the next assignment.

Fly high,


Need help getting started? Drop me a line at captainbarbarabell.com and, of course, check out my book, Flight Lessons: Navigating Through Life’s Turbulence and Learning to Fly High.

#habituation, #ethics, #reflection, #womenveterans, #veterans, #coaching, #mentoring, #leadership

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash