by Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP
We recently remodeled our outpatient offices, requiring us to move everything out to re-carpet. It is challenging to clean up what has accumulated over 10 years! One item I have been saving (available from someone else on ebay, starting bid $3) is a 1970s Borm response golf counter.
This very sturdy, entirely metal device straps to your wrist. It will easily count golf strokes, or anything that is expected to occur 999 times or less, by pushing the side pin in about 1/4 inch. Rewinding is a very deliberate activity, so there is no chance of re-setting by accident (as one might easily do with an electronic device).
If a change is important enough to us, we often measure it or count it, and then record it. We have records of golf games, bathroom scales and daily or weekly weight logs, calendars filled with how far we have run, charts to record the growth of our children, lists of the number of times we have done or accomplished something, etc.
The effect of self-monitoring can be dramatic. If you want to improve anything, start counting it and recording. Because improving almost any aspect of your life is a step toward addiction recovery, I keep this response counter around. It can be used to record how many cravings you have (thus documenting that they are diminishing), how many negative or positive thoughts you have, how many cigarettes you smoke, how many compliments you give, how many times you smile, etc.
We now have a wide range of electronic measurement devices, with more emerging. They count and record how many steps we take, what our pulse or blood pressure is, how much we sleep, etc. There is a great advantage in being able to measure information with so little effort, then study it at our leisure.
However, this Borm response counter will have a role to play for a long time. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to measure brain activity so precisely that we can record when we are craving alcohol (vs. wanting seconds at dinner, or having sexual feelings about someone else at the table). At present the equipment that comes closest to this kind of measurement weighs many tons. For the moment, this response counter is state-of-the-art equipment! I think I will hang onto the one I have.