Reflections on Habits

flowers2I spoke with a client the other day who told me that she found her life has really changed by having the habit of doing morning stretches, meditation and then taking a short walk before breakfast. She said, “If I give in to my natural stream of thoughts I’d be watching tv on the couch just to not feel pain. This new practice is different than numbing my pain”

Having some ways to fight off low energy or self-destructive habits is important. It can feel at times that it is so much easier to just go down the slide. But, when that happens, we often are angry with ourselves and regret that we not only wasted time, but didn’t cultivate a good practice. Sometimes we also break our momentum of doing regular workouts or taking a daily walk and wonder why.

A common example of this is when we skip going to the gym or yoga class to watch tv or sleep longer. There are also other examples involving human interactions that can eat at us. For instance, a 22 year old client of mine had changed his previous pattern of spending time with friends from high school who drank too much. He started to skip bars and go to Starbucks with a new co-worker who he admired for his tenacity and ability to overcome a drug history. Last week, he said he went out drinking with his high school buddies instead and then hated himself the next day.

Rob said he felt that he’d never get away from his past and would lead a life like many of his buddies who have low-paying jobs, inability to commit to relationships and just party on weekends because they refuse to “grow up”.

As we explored this more, Rob saw his own struggles between maturity and the Peter Pan myth. He knew his brother who is 31 still has a lifestyle similar to his high school friends and felt that it was the family fate. As we talked, Rob realized that he is different than his brother and that he had some new habits that pulled him out of his past cycle. It’s important for someone to realize that if they do slip, they can just start over again with the new routines they’ve cultivated. The fact that he felt so much better with his new friendship, his new mentor who is his boss and his plans to take college courses this summer, helped him to see he has traveled further than he thought.

Self-recrimination and beating oneself up, does not do any good and it’s best to just renew the resolution and start with the new habits you’ve cultivated without self-blame. And if you feel that you are just sick and tired of a routine, then of course it is never too late to make a change.

Here are some Quotes on Habits to think about:

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.
Feodor Dostoevsky

Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.
Spanish Proverb

All man’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.

Weight loss is a sum of all of your habits – not individual ones.
Helen M. Ryan

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.
William James

We speak of many things parrot-like, but never do them; speaking and not doing has become a habit with us.
Swami Vivekananda.

Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, which can be checked by new and better ones. Character is repeated habits, and repeated habits alone can reform character.
Swami Vivekananda

A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”
Desiderius Erasmus
Tiny Promo…. If you want to read more quotes on habits as well as other topics such as courage, love, motivation
and money, you can pick up my .99 book at Amazon Kindle. Each chapter has questions to ponder after each section and can be read on a PC, phone, tablet or other device. You don’t need a Kindle to read it!
Famous Quotes with Questions- Click Here

Questions to Ponder

1) Is Vivekananda right that we prefer to speak and not do? Why is walking the walk so much harder? Don’t we want to be the ideal that we speak about? Does talking about something help us or plant the seed for the future? Or does it keep us only in our concepts and postpone action?

2) Why do habits become cables after a while? Is it physical as well as psychological? Can you see in yourself when something changes from being a cobweb that you can dissolve with your hand to a strong habit?

3) Is Helen Ryan implying that it takes a lifestyle to change a habit such as overeating? Do people fail at changing a habit due to narrowing their remedy instead of taking a more holistic approach?

What habits are you trying to break or cultivate? What are the obstacles?

When you looked at the habits you’ve changed over your life, what do you think helped the most? When you slip or regress what are the temptations? It can help to try to look at the underlying feeling. For instance, instead of saying, “I was just hungry”, it can help the inquiry to think of what was going on in your life that proceeded the urge to eat. Was there an interaction with someone that created a certain reaction?

Let me know what your own experience is using the comments or write me here .

For further inspiration check out Famous Quotes with Questions to Ponder

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