Word Wednesday – Habits

Habits; we all have them. Some are really good for us like brushing and flossing. Others are not so good for us like talking on the phone while driving or gulping down our food too fast. Breaking a bad habit causes discomfort, and that’s the problem. Most of us don’t like to be uncomfortable.

One bad habit I’m continually working toward breaking is the habit of having a snack when I come home; from anywhere … hungry or not! I’ve done this since after-school snacks and it doesn’t make any sense at all. They say that you need to replace a bad habit with a good one so, I’ve tried turning to a coffee break. Talk about sleepless nights! “I know,” I say, “I’ll make it ceremonial and buy different types of tea, make a lovely pot and take it to a special place by the window while I read my book.” Yeah … no.

So, what worked? I come in and get started on some busywork right away and I don’t even think about food. As I’m coming down my street I’m planning some task and so far so good. I sometimes forget and slip back into the old habit for a day, but I get right back to the busywork solution the next time.

Eating fast is another habit that is a work in progress for me. I work hard to pace myself, putting down my utensils between bites, chewing slowly and savoring the flavors. I have learned to enjoy my food more and have discovered that I need less sweet food to feel satisfied because I actually taste it. I don’t even mind that it’s not hot by the time I finish.

I’ve quit major habits like smoking, cold turkey, many years ago and I gave up dairy and wheat as well, but changing routines is tough!

Habits are really addictions to the feelings they create. Eating created a feeling of comfort at being home. Eating fast gave me the sense of getting enough. Smoking was a stress reducer and allowed me to focus. Basically, we feel good while we are actually doing the habit.

David Ngo at motivational-well-being.com recommends thinking about new habits in a positive light and rewarding yourself for the new behavior, think about the end result, get into the feeling of the end result: If you want to work out regularly, and you really get pumped up by certain music, then put that music on when you’re working out.

Some of my positive habits have come about with baby steps. I don’t tell myself I have to work out hard; I tell myself that all I have to do is walk a mile. Usually this translates to a mile or two plus some time on the elliptical. Sometimes it’s a mile. I have a stretching routine coupled with some weight work in the morning, but I don’t have to do the weight work … it’s optional. I do it almost every day.

My journaling habit started the same way: I read a motivational book for 10-15 minutes every morning then made some notes about it. Now, my morning time is at least an hour, and if I miss a morning I almost always work in some time later in the day.

So, make habits by feeling good about them. Sometimes that means taking baby steps. Sometimes it means cold turkey. Usually it involves a little discomfort. Stick with it for the rewards!

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