Turn Your Password Into A 'Mantra' And It Can Change Your Life

Like lots of us, Mauricio Estrella’s work computer was infuriatingly set to demand a new password every 30 days.

The requirements, he shares in a Medium post, were stringent:

“The server forces us to use at least one UPPERCASE character, at least one lowercase alphabetic character, at least one symbol and at least one number. Oh, and the whole damn thing can’t be less than 8 characters. And I can’t use any of the same passwords I’ve used in the last 3 months.”

This was back in 2011. He’d just had a divorce. He was sweaty from cycling to work. He had to prep for a 10 a.m. meeting.

Yet with the password prompt, all he had in front of him was a “huge waste of time.” Then the associate creative director remembered a tip from an old boss.

“I’m gonna use a password to change my life,” he recalls thinking.

He continues:

“My password became the indicator. My password reminded me that I shouldn’t let myself be victim of my recent break up, and that I’m strong enough to do something about it.

My password became:[email protected]

I had to type this statement several times a day. Each time my computer would lock. Each time my screensaver with her photo would appear. Each time I would come back from eating lunch alone.

In my mind, I went with the mantra that I didn’t type a password. In my mind, I wrote “Forgive her” everyday, for one month.”

Changing that password changed the way he thought of his former spouse. It was a recurring refrain, he says, a reminder to forgive her, accept the uncoupling, and embrace a recovery from depression.

“In the following days, my mood improved drastically,” Estrella continues. “By the end of the 2nd week, I noticed that this password became less powerful, and it started to lose its effect. A quick refresh of this ‘mantra’ helped me. I thought to myself I forgive heras I typed it, every time. The healing effect of it came back almost immediately.”

Since shifting his password shifted his outlook in one part of life, he tried another when the prompt to change came around again.

Next up: “[email protected]

And he quit.

Then, Estrella says, he continued his project of behaviour change by way of password change. His month-by-month report on success and failure:

[email protected] ← to my ex-wife, who started it all.

[email protected] ← it worked.

[email protected] ← it worked.

[email protected] ← it never worked, still fat.

[email protected] ← it worked.

[email protected] ← it worked. I fell in love again.

[email protected] ← it worked. I feel better.

[email protected]! ← it worked. I have a beautiful cat.

[email protected] ← it worked. I talk with my mum every week.

But the one from last month is the most momentous:

[email protected] ← Yep. Life is gonna change again, soon

Estrella’s story, which we first spotted on Jason Kottke’s blog, in instructive for the way that it shows how overlooked details in our lives can help us shape the way we live. It’s a dose of self-improvement in fewer characters than a tweet. It’s an addition to the pre-work ritual, the kind that rockstar chef Anthony Bourdain celebrates.

We have a few further ideas:

[email protected] ← because you save money when you brown bag it

[email protected] ← because she wants to hear from you, too

[email protected] ← because you don’t need the distraction

[email protected] ← because your novel isn’t going to write itself

If you have a self-improvement password mantra, let us know in the comments.

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