We all know about Habits – how they can either make us or break us.
In his book The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg reveals the important three-step process to forming a habit:
First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Over time, this loop…becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.
This is really something I never thought of. But I know from past experience that I have been able to develop “grooves”. For example – when I was a manager I would group difficult challenging phone calls together for a certain time of the week. This helped not having to think of making these calls with an uneasy feeling all week and wasting a lot of creative energy. At the appointed time for these phone calls I was in the right frame of mind – I even rewarded myself – I would do something I truly enjoyed in the afternoon!–The chosen time for these phone calls was every Tuesday late morning.
Then there was Friday afternoon – review and plan for the next week. It flowed so easily after a while. If I tried to switch the time – it was like my brain was switched off and I could not wrap my head around it.
It works very well. Often one of these “difficult” phone calls had been resolved before hand. I never again procrastinated with any of these difficult tasks.
Another example: Walking— first I hated it– then I figured out why I hate it–the wrong time the wrong place — then I started at the best time and the right place.. After figuring out the right place and time I realized there are a quite a few people walking or running at the same time. Now I am getting familiar with these faces; friendly smiles and greetings! I am now looking forward to it. —I can’t believe I had to force myself at first. Next I am not only looking forward to it, I have to walk! Sometimes when the weather doesn’t cooperate and I have no choice, I am surprised to realize how I miss it! I will need a backup plan for an indoor exercise habit which I will enjoy as much.
Menial chores that have to be done…but i don’t like them. But what if we can create a habit of doing it with love and joy. Before we know it we’ll be acting like Mary Poppins! I am not kidding. What an amazing discovery. Being stuck in traffic _Most of us habitually get impatient listening to music and other things. But we can’t concentrate and enjoy because our minds are busy with other things. Once we fix that habit we’ll be looking forward to being stuck in traffic!
Of course we do what we have to do whether or not we like it. But what if we can create habits which will help us to do everything with joy and love?–Eliminate all this impatient nagging, criticizing, being judgmental – How would we feel and the people around us. It is not easy but once we are aware–we get motivated and once we start seeing the results –we’ll have even stronger motivation to change these habits one by one.
For example: Nagging — stop – think- is it actually necessary to say something, if really necessary- keep it to a minimum– then say it once in an even tone — then let it go, etc.
How not to allow such habits to be formed– practice mindfulness, being in the moment.
Visualize what kind of person we want to be. Reflect and evaluate ! Rather than using up so much of our time trying to escape, getting distracted -we can work on ourselves – reflect but with a nonjudgmental caring attitude towards ourselves. Keeping a journal will allow us to look back after a year and see how we have changed and realize t hat indeed we turned into this person we wanted to be all along!
How to undo such habits one by one. Replace it with with a corresponding positive one ….especially the emotional and thinking patterns… nagging, complaining, some are so ingrained we are not even aware of it. Think of the reward — how our relationships will improve and how we’ll feel about ourselves.
Focus on one habit at a time
Life is about to change for the better!
It is very exciting to envision my life with even one changed habit. The reward is big!