Creatures of Habit–The Personal Side
A couple of months ago a friend recommended I read a book on habits. Then I started listening to some lectures on habit. I guess researching habit has become a habit for me as of late. Learning about why we do what we do is fascinating to me.
Reading up on habits and how they affect our lives–not just daily, but over the course of a lifetime–has really encouraged me to examine my own habits. I have been asking myself the same questions I asked you at the close of the first blog on this topic. Questions like: What activities do I engage in daily? What am I eating and drinking most days? How do I spend my evenings? Who do I spend the most time with? And where does most of my money go?
Perhaps the best way to examine your habits is to keep a daily log for 2 or 3 weeks, which I have been doing. Thankfully, I am not wrestling with any addictions that interfere with my current life roles, but I do see good, “not so good” and “in-between” habits in my life. For example, some good habits include meditation, exercise and drinking lots of water. Some “not so good” habits include, watching TV (instead of reading), staying up too late and eating dessert too many nights each week. My “in-between” habits are things I do that are not bad, but nevertheless could be better. For example, when I get up 30 minutes earlier each day to meditate and do food prep for the day, my entire day seems to run smoother. But, I don’t always want to get up early. Or, instead of drinking two cups of coffee each day with lots of cream, I could switch the second cup out for green or black tea. You get the idea.
So, in the spirit of habit and examining our lives, I have been making some changes to turn my “not so good” and “in between” habits into good ones. If you would like to try this here are the steps I took:
The first step is logging your habits and examining them. The second step is identifying which habits you would like to replace. And the third step is implementing changes that transform your okay/bad habits into better/good ones. A friend of mine calls this, “making choices against yourself.” At first this might sound negative, but let me explain. The thought process goes like this. Oftentimes we choose what is easiest or feels best; however, when we make a choice that is harder (against our gut reaction), we often wind up happier. For example, when I get up earlier I usually have a better day even though I would rather sleep in. Or, when I read for 20-30 minutes each night before turning on Netflix, I am always glad I did.
We are the authors of our lives and our habits. We get to decide every day what we will and will not do. Life is always ebbing and flowing, changing and growing–so why shouldn’t we? Now is the time to examine your life and see which path you are on. How are you authoring it? If you are honest with yourself, you will most likely see areas of your life ripe for improvement. And, if you do the hard (and rewarding) work of transforming your habits and life, you will probably be tempted many times along the way to take the easy path and revert back to what is familiar and comfortable. But, if my friend is right, and I believe he is, most of the time if you think about your life long-term and who you want to become, you will dream bigger and want to make the best choices–even when they are harder.
If you are struggling with addiction an Orlando licensed mental health counselor can help you. A life of freedom and meaning can be found if you will just take the first step and call. If you are in a time of transition, extreme stress or feel you are not living the most balanced, meaningful and joyful life possible, a psychotherapist can help you. She will provide support and empathy and help you identify and implement behaviors and strategies so that you can achieve your most important life goals. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.