Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped. Charles Duhigg
How We Develop Habits (from headspace.com) – A small region of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, where most of our thoughts and planning take place, is responsible for the moment-by-moment control of habits that are switched on at any given time, according to neuroscientists at MIT. Research has found that although habits may be deeply ingrained, the brain’s planning centers can shut them off, according to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As I’ve grown into a life of consciousness, I enjoy taking responsibility for the way I live and the habits I choose. From how I speak of myself to the way and what I eat to my daily practices, I’ve evolved into someone who pays close attention to myself and how I project. Living a life that is ever-changing should be embraced not feared, it offers so many opportunities to grow into a life of mindful choices.
Technique One – Recognize a Habit. Take time on your own to take stock of whatever habits you’ve developed that are holding you back or just annoying you. Take a look at your current lifestyle and where it falters, then resolve to do something differently, what the new habits will be and what it will take for you to bring them about.
Practicing mindfulness activates the brain’s prefrontal lobe which is the place where our attention, focused concentration, awareness, observation, and consciousness are located. The function of the frontal lobe is to create a new self by breaking away from the patterns that your brain has been firing off routinely for years. The good news is when you practice mindfulness whatever you choose to change and let go of will be permanent because you’re rewiring your brain.
Technique Two – Commit to Change. Make a promise to yourself to commit to choose a good habit, envision the habit you want to take on and believe strongly enough that you can reverse anything. Procrastination is your worst enemy, keep in mind the longer you put off change, the unhealthier you or the situation will become.
Technique Three – Identify Negative Responses and Obstacles. Most of us fail to change habits or quickly fall into our unhealthy patterns because life can be overwhelming and lure us into the negative responses we are used to. This is where we apply conscious choice as a new practice because we are selecting to overcome our current harmful behaviors and whatever barriers we may face. From my experience, the benefit of mindfulness is using thoughtful choice to steer away from a habitual or ordinary life by forcing ourselves to seek alternatives. I’ve always seen change as an adventure, the benefit for long term change is we are present and with each new choice we create a new neural pathway in our brain.
Technique Four – Establish a Plan. Interestingly, when Benjamin Franklin chose to convert his vices; he watched over himself and became self aware. He chose to live 13 virtues that were important to him, then he focused on changing his negative behaviors one at a time. To help his success, he created a journal listing all of the vices and the days of the week. He would mark each one until he changed the vice into a strength. He worked on each for a week over a period of three months, once he knew he’d overcome the bad habit he moved on to the next.
Organize your habits in a way that is best suited for you, keep in mind that the elimination of one bad habit may be part of the success of omitting another. For example, overeating can be controlled by mindfully paying attention to how your stomach feels as you eat a meal, that can also help in controlling mindless snacking. Like Benjamin Franklin, try creating a list of virtues that you want to embody, then visualize the good habit you are seeking. This along with the practice of self-awareness will help you to achieve success.
Technique Five – Enlist Support. Talk to your friends and family about what you’re trying to accomplish to help them understand that when you choose to pass on doing something you no longer want to do, you’re working to steer yourself in a new direction. When they see that you’re serious about enlisting better habits, they will help guide you away from temptations and even cheer you on.
Technique Six – Reward Yourself. Because we rely on rewards for whatever we accomplish, we are more successful if we create rewards that we will benefit from:
- Go out into Nature with your Camera
- Go on a Weekend Retreat
- Get a New Book
- Get a Spa Treatment
- Go to a Movie
- Go to a Concert
- Remember how you’ll feel when you replace that bad habit
- Remind yourself how much easier you’ll breathe if your trying to quit smoking
- Think of how much more energized and active you’ll be if you’re lifestyle changes includes eating differently
- Conscious commitment is necessary in order to break away from the comfort of a routine and embrace the change you want.
I’ve made great strides in rewiring my brain to acquire better habits through mindfulness practices. I continually work at choosing new lifestyle practices that are in line with who I am now. If the new habit I’ve chosen doesn’t work, I modify it until it fits with the way I live. I always think about how much better my life will be whenever I adapt a new practice, that alone makes it easier to stop myself from falling back into old patterns.
“The old habit will still be there, but a new habit can come in and take precedence over it.” “It’s like exercising a muscle—whatever habit you exercise most gets the strongest.” Elizabeth Ucheoma-Cofield, MD
Thank you, I appreciate your taking the time to read my post.