Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Positive Habits - Positive Steps

"Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have" - Dale Carnegie

It was not until recently that I learned just how important our habits are. I was unaware of the science behind them and how they affected out everyday lives. But after doing a lot of reading on the subject I noticed that there a plenty of ways you can adjust your habits or reprogram your brain which will infuse positive changes into your life. The best part about this is it is very simple and does not require much effort. The first step would be examining your life as it is now, and asking yourself why you engage in the bad habits that already exist in your life. You can be brutally honest with yourself because explaining this to other people is not necessary. I call this "getting to know yourself, your patterns and your ways". For example: Everyday when I come home I will clean the entire kitchen -

do the dishes from the night before, wash the counters and season the nights dinner. This is generally around 6 or 7 o clock. But come 9 or 10 o clock if there are dishes in the sink, the chances of me getting up to do them are slim to none. When asked by numerous people why this was my answer would generally be "well I hate doing dishes". Logically that makes no sense, because at 6 o clock I have no problem doing them. It wasn't until I read "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg that I was able to understand why that habit had formed in my brain. Now I am not going to get into the science of how habits form in your brain as I am not scientifically inclined and would probably confuse and bore you - however I do suggest reading this book as it is extremely interesting and easy to follow. You can get it on Amazon for cheap, even cheaper on a kindle or kobo. According to this book though this habit had formed because of the "Cue, Routine, Reward and Craving" system that is explained in a few chapters. Here is how the system worked for me:

Cue: Time 6:00 and seeing the pile of dishes in the sink
Routine: cleaning the kitchen and preparing the food
Reward: Eating!!!
Craving: As soon as I saw those dishes I began to feel hungry because I new that once the routine was complete I would be fed.

Come 9 or 10 o clock though, once I was finished eating and the cue was reset (another pile of dirty dishes) there was no reward or craving - so the habit formed that I would leave them until the next day until the whole system started over! Now that I am able to identify how the system works for me and if replace the reward with something else, the cue and the routine can stay the same and a new habit can be formed.

This however is just one small example of how habit can effect you. Positive habits can help implement great changes into your life with a small amount of effort. I have always found it very hard to stick to a healthy diet as the thought of a greasy bacon filled burger would easily derail me. I needed to find a routine that would help make this habit form in my brain. Enter Bikram Yoga. Thanks to my naturally competitive spirit The Bikram Yoga Challenge has successfully helped me change my eating habits. Since I have started the challenge I have replaced a standard burger with a lettuce burger (a burger with lettuce as the bun) and watched other people scarf down McDonald's in front of me - while sitting in the restaurant (if you knew me you would know that this is a great accomplishment as usually I order an extra large fries and will not share). By making Bikram Yoga a habit in my life, positive changes started to occur and new habits were formed without me having to think about it.

Cue: Time (I try to go to the same class everyday - once this habit is deeply ingrained I will not need to go everyday)
Routine: Yoga Class
Reward: The amazing after sweating for 90 hours (it is becoming addictive)
Craving: I have started to look forward to and even crave the intense heat in the room (aka the torture chamber), and the relaxing meditation atmosphere.

The key however is taking it one day at a time. I did not set out to become a Bikram Master - I told myself tomorrow I am going to go to Yoga and when I accomplished that I felt good! And then the next day I said to myself "Tomorrow I am going to go back to Yoga" and I did and it felt awesome. The next day I set out to improve my yoga experience - therefor adding onto the previous goal I had set for myself - so I said to myself "tomorrow I am going to go to yoga and not eat foods that will upset my stomach during class". You can see where I am going with this, I slowly built a wall, formed a habit, by laying one brick at a time. Since starting this challenge I have now made it a habit to drink 3-4 litres of water every day, attend class everyday, eat balanced non processed food diet, and relax my shoulders while sitting at my computer desk. I am only two weeks into this challenge and the above list is starting to become second nature to me.

The following except Is from a fellow blogger quoting "The Power of Habit" - The Blog is by Jason Shen

Fostering a new positive habit reaps many benefits

By developing a new positive habit, such as regular exercise, a meditation practice or making your bed in the morning, you will immediately reap the direct benefits of the new habit. On top of this you will also increase your willpower and naturally implement better behaviors across many aspects of your life, including health and social activities.
To put more crisp through the example of developing your exercise habit Charles Duhigg writes:

“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”

So in summary what you should do after carefully examining your current behaviour process - identify something you would like to accomplish. The goal itself may to be big to tackle all at once, so take one step and back think of the tiny puzzle pieces that will put together that goal. You will only frustrate yourself if you start with a goal you do not believe you can achieve. You need to believe it or it will never happen! Start with one of the puzzle pieces- put it on your dream board and from there everything will fall into place. This falls directly inline with the "Action" part of The Law of Attraction. You need to take steps towards your goals. Your dream board is the first step, now here is the second. If you want to be a Bikram master first put Bikram himself on your dream board, then start attending classes - the 'how' will sort itself out.

"Just because you can't see the end of the highway, doesn't mean you can't get to it. So start your ignition and drive" - Me

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