Go To It!: Changing Your Habits for the Better

Winter is not a great time to try to break a habit; the cold weather and short days make for a dreary environment that does not inspire one to change. However, winter is great for thinking about habits you want to break and becoming more mindful of why the habits were formed in the first place.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that a great deal of what we do every day is an unconscious habit, and that habits are formed on a reward basis. In essence, we begin doing something habitually because we are getting some sort of perceived reward from it. Then why would we have bad habits? Bad habits form because the perceived reward is greater to us than the negative outcome.

This week we are challenging you to become more mindful of your space and your internal action and reward process. Examine why you are enacting what are essentially destructive behaviors. We have tips inspired from Jan Chozen Bays, M.D.’s book about becoming more mindful. Once you have mastered this, and understand your habit then you will be fully prepared to break it by the Spring!

1.)    Become Mindful of Your Own Presence in the World – Choose a room in your house or even your car and try for one week to show no trace of having been in that space. This mindfulness task will quickly show you how much your presence effects the space and people around you. This might be especially good for those of you who look at your room at the end of each week and are baffled by how it got so messy.

2.)    Understand What Food Means to Your Body—For one week make a conscious decision to eat alone and not distract yourself with anything else for one meal of the day.  Really experience your food and decide if it is bringing you joy or if something else about eating—the social interaction or the alone time, the paper you are reading, the time it fills—is what is providing the joy. This is great for anyone who is trying to limit their food intake and lose weight because often times we find ourselves eating for other reasons than just being hungry.

3.)    Purge Yourself From Electronics—This might be the most difficult, but I am sure many of our readers have the common bad habit of not being able to unplug from their e-mail. Keep a tallied list of every time you check your e-mail, turn on the TV, or get on a social media site. This will consciously show you how many times a day you are plugging in and not taking any alone time to breath. You will probably begin to recognize a pattern, such as I check my e-mail when I am waiting on something because I am bored, anxious, and self-conscious. Understanding to root of the problem is the best way to fix it.

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