Habits

We form new habits at will (good and bad?), but seem unable to break asunder those habits that are self-destructive or negative and get in the way of living a full life.

A lot has been written about habits. Perhaps too much.

There appear two schools of thought:

(1) to acquire new, positive habits we are told to adopt a sequencing process – step one, step two, step three… until finally the habit is so ingrained that it becomes us; or

(2) to hold our noses and go for it – the blind faith approach.

But, long term, does either approach work?

The trouble is that we have at least two distinct personalities and they are constantly at war e.g. the Go Getter and the sloth. Trying to please each person is practically impossible. Just as we think we have mastered our negative friend, something comes up – illness, depression or laziness – and, bingo, we’re back to where we started.

I think, sometimes, we would do well to acknowledge that for most people they are not going to change unless, perhaps, something outside their current experience forces it upon them. Mortality – yours or a friend – is usually a strong motivator.

However, what most people need is not inspiration but an (innate) acceptance of the possible, even in the face of adversity.

It means letting go of the past, and shining a light on becoming the most of anything. It’s only when you see or feel the possible, through your own actions and not blithely copying others, that you understand the potential that life has to offer.

Looking at my own position, I recognise that what sets me apart from some people is my belief that anything is possible. In fact, it’s a standing joke in my house how often I repeat the lines: “I could have been a [name].” 

But I’m serious

Of course, I can’t be everything (my ambition to be a professional sportsman is long behind me) but I don’t see the limitations, particularly those that circumstance might otherwise dictate.

The next time you read something on habits you would do well to ask a simple question: Do I desire change badly enough to do something markedly different for the rest of my life? If you don’t feel a hot flush of inspiration welling up inside you – “yes, yes, yes” – then chances are you are paying lip service to habit change.

I recognise this is a stark message, and might deter you from starting small and building, but, to be honest, if something is that important to you, you shouldn’t need to follow a programme, however powerful it might appear. You would just get on and do something about it.

We all know that our habits make us. But it’s critical not to allow your thinking to calcify to the point where you never step out of your comfort zone. Perhaps, once in while, even when the white heat of change is not pressing down upon you, you need to say “Yes” when you would ordinarily say “No”.

In summary, don’t become stuck. Do something different, ideally something that is tinged with excitement or fear, and if you keep doing it over and over you may just discover a new person emerges, one that even surprises you.

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