The Gift of Habit
How a habit is created:
Have you ever considered the incredible power wired into our central nervous system that allows us to have habits? We have each been endowed with the innate gift to create habits. Our brains are wired with complex networks of neural pathways. Over time those neural connections become like well-worn paths, carrying our thoughts in familiar patterns through the regular route of thought-feeling-action. These neural pathways become faster, slicker, and more effective each time we follow them. The triggers & signals that invite our thoughts to step onto the well-worn neural path never stop. It’s a biological process we all have. Hence, the gift of habit.
Did you brush your teeth today? Did you think about which end to open on the tube of toothpaste, where to place the paste on the toothbrush, or where your mouth and teeth were? Of course not! You used your gift of habit. So many habitual thoughts & life patterns make life easier for us. Most of us eat nearly the same breakfast daily, respond with the same greeting to coworkers, and follow the same route home in the evening. (All routine habits – except for maybe where we put our keys…) Our habits allow us to build routines in our lives. Small acts, repeated over time, can make substantial life changes.
You can build small habits during the day to remind yourself to check in and listen for your quiet inner voice. You may want to set a reminder for yourself for the first month or so, either electronically, on a post-it, or within the course of your daily events. Choose a time and a place. People who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a habit are more likely to follow through—having a trigger of when and where* is infinitely helpful.
*Research shows that determining where your habit will occur significantly improves success.
When-Thens and Habit Stacks
We can often build little “habit stacks.”
A Habit Stack is a stack of thought – feeling – actions, each building on the next.
A Habit Stack allows your new habit to create an anchor for a second habit.
They are a series of When-Thens.
When I eat breakfast, then I pause for a ‘check-in moment.’ When I have that ‘check-in moment,’ then I take a deep breath, wait, and listen to my inner self. When I hear my inner self, then I express something I am grateful for. It’s a stack of little habits that add up to a lot.
Habit stacks are tremendously helpful. Use them to build both a morning and an evening routine over time. They will propel you towards your creative goals. Creating quiet and gratitude habits in our lives nourishes our inner creator. Habit stacks allow us to appreciate and learn from the small and simple things filling our lives, taking full advantage of that energizing 50good/50not so good lifestyle.
For 24 hours, notice every habit you have created.
Choose and create one habit. You may even want to use the when-then pattern to create a morning or evening routine. Caution: Choose one. You don’t want to overwhelm and short circuit your efforts. You have all the time in the world, girlfriend. Don’t miss out on the joy of the ride as you change slowly and surely.