This may sound obvious but it is important to note, and use the insight, that habits serve us in many ways, their mechanism is “perfect” in that it produces the results that are properly practiced in (whether consciously decided or not is irrelevant) and then they operate “perfectly” in the absence of something that interrupts the habit-program.
Their “goodness” or “badness” of a habit relates more to our opinions about the results created at a particular time, than how they function, or what their specific adaption was for.
In a world where we are encouraged to think that we are thinking, when we are only confirming our preferred “take” on things, and our primary narrative creations act to create post-facto rationales to prevent change – we have our work cut out for us.
The bottom-line here is that you are always either reinforcing the system you have allowed to perpetuate to this point in your life or your are crafting the habits you have to work better, and creating and maintaining new ones that have greater utility for pursuing what you want – there is no standing still as it’s simply not how the body works and it is not how the Universe works.
Everything is changing and the process of life is inherently dynamic. The only place where a kind of fixed stability occurs is in the human mind, proactively shaping and filtering inputs in order to exclude messages that don’t fit within its pre-established preferences.
It’s why you (me, each of us) are such suckers for certain things; it’s why you (me, each of us) are so easily manipulated (yes… you – the one who thinks you are clever, sophisticated and aware – you especially); it’s why you feel helpless about certain things; and why “the fear button” is pushed so many times each day for so many different issues in the media…
Your habits both allow for a degree of ease and consistency in your affairs and also how you prevent yourself from being free to learn anything swiftly and easily, or make changes as and when you please.
Up to now, we have been concentrating in fairly 1:1 ratio between goal and habit to create the goals, but now we need to look higher and more expansively across domains.
In a study on “happy families”; it was reported that families who enjoy each others’ company, get on well, have fewer nasty scenes, etc. share a characteristic which is notably reduced or absent in more dysfunctional families and that is the happier families created more “rituals” – habituated group events which focused on enjoyable interaction, and their function as a group.
This means they build in special events and activities as a part of their day to day flow. One of simplest being eating as a family, while sharing loving and supportive conversations (parents who have their emotional needs sorted so they can concentrate on the children).
Families with more “rituals” and means of relating, means they have a stronger reservoir habits to fall back on to restore a sense of normality when life events unsettle them (deaths, disasters, problems etc.).
Our habits and rituals become the capacity or reserve of strength that we can rely on in difficult times.
For instance, what is ANY English success built on? Tea. The ritual of “a nice brew” has held more English people together through good times and bad than anything else. For many people it’s a built in self-calming and self-soothing ritual that is highly habituated. Some people know how to use the Great English tea ceremony to great effect.
The “good” rituals need care and attention as much the “bad” need weeding and adjusting.
Physical and emotional resilience (the ability to bounce back and recover following challenge), channeled through persistent forward movement, leads to success.
The truth of success for most people comes down to staying focused and staying proactive, pursuing worthwhile goals.
There will be habits you have that support you in this, and those that don’t.
I want you to reflect on your habits that enhance, and habits that inhibit, your physical and emotional resilience, your staying focused and active, in pursuit of goals.
Do this now (on paper):
- Look at how you look after yourself – health, well-being, mental sharpness and rest, and any other things that you use to support your best health and well-being. Make notes.
- Look at what restores and nurtures you. Make notes.
- Look at how you stop yourself performing at your best – at what you do specifically (e.g. not “I sabotage myself”, instead “I don’t like stepping out into the unknown. I like to know everything up front, so I distract myself when I’m uncertain”) Look at those things that you know are slowing you down or getting in your way. Make notes.
- Now think about how you want to be in 10 years time. How healthy and happy do you want to be? How energetic? Are your behaviors lined up with the desires? You are creating your future and your reserve capacities right now. Whatever you allow to persist, will carry on for better and for worse. If you are not sufficiently challenging your system it will deteriorate… and it’s about what you do today, and then tomorrow, and tomorrow. You are making decisions now (even through “choosing” to remain more robot than awake) that is making your future now…
- Take a look at your notes and make some decisions for change that will build your resilience and reserves. Plan for change right now. Put the most important changes into your planning NOW.