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Keeping Death In Mind

March 10, 2010. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Late morning.

I pulled on my swim trunks, trainers, and a tank top and walked out of my little guesthouse room, sliding through the cramped restaurant strewn with tables, and out into the hot, dusty air of Phnom Penh. It's a hot day. It'll be good to swim after lifting weights.

I said, "No no, thank you" to the tuk-tuk drivers offering to take me somewhere in the city, pushed through the little crowd, and out onto the street. The streets in Cambodia more resemble alleyways than streets, and I navigate around people and vehicles.

I went down to the end of the street, turned left, and skirted along close to the local restaurants, half-tent half-storefront type places to get food. I stepped into the crosswalk, the Hotel Cambodiana rising in front of me. I check right and then left, and I watch left as I cross, watching for oncoming traffic.


How I switched from coffee to tea and 10 things I learned

On Mike Dariano

I loved many thing about coffee. The smell, taste, texture. I loved brewing it in my Aeropress, a process that slowly warmed my body and mind for the day. The only thing I didn't like about coffee was how it made me feel. I liked the caffeine kick at the beginning of the day but the over-caffeinated jitters were no good as was the malaise. So I switched to tea.

If you lived here, were my wife, and observed me give up coffee a half-dozen times only to pick it back up you might laugh. She did. But this time I felt like I had science and psychology on my side. I realized that coffee had become an automatic response to waking and part of my morning routine. This routine consists of waking, taking the dogs outside, brewing a coffee, and opening up the computer. I hadn't realized this until I was reading The Power of Habit and thinking about the feedback loop. My cue was waking up, my routine was making coffee, and my reward was getting work done before other people in my house woke.

This is where, in some ways, the switch to tea was easy. I had to replace my coffee with tea and that lone substitution in my morning routine would be enough. I was a like a baby who had a toy which was quickly taken away and a new toy dropped in its place. I would be none the wiser. And through two weeks I'm not. I do miss the occasional caffeine kick but not enough to go back. Here's 10 things I learned along the way.

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