“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us”
Sir Winston Churchill
New Habits can replace Old Habits
It can be so difficult to create a new habit or pattern. I know it has been a lifelong struggle for me in some areas. At the same time, some areas of my life, I have activities in which I show great deal of discipline and regularity. I am not just talking about brushing my teeth! I find it interesting how easy some habits and patterns are for me- really automatic, while that same activity would be grueling for someone else to create it as a habit. Someone can get to the gym every day without fail, while someone else cannot.
We can all be challenged in creating a new habit pattern, even something we are very attracted to trying or doing. With Take a Breath for Schools and Communities you will be discovering exciting and unique recordings in mindfulness and meditation. Recordings with many applications- to help with sleep, to help your school/job/sports performance, something to deal with an illness or injury, and more. The science behind those recordings states that repetition is key. If you integrate those recordings, and the body/mind response held within them, you can change and transform yourself. That is powerful. So how do we create that change?
Success in integrating these recordings for your personal changes is the product of small adjustments to your daily habits. Versus a one time transformation. It doesn't matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now in trying to create change. What matters is whether your new habits are putting you on the path toward success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than your current results.
Behavioral scientist Jason Hreha writes, “Habits are simply reliable solutions to recurring problems in our environment.”
If a particular action requires more physical or mental effort than you are willing to expend, then you won't do it. Your response also depends on your ability. It sounds simple, but a new habit can only occur if you are capable of doing it.
So how do I become successful at creating a new habit?
When identifying a change in your behavior you must ask yourself:
- How can I make it obvious?
- How can I make it attractive?
- How can I make it easy?
- How can I make it satisfying?
We need to determine the cues that can trigger a habit. And they come in a wide range of forms - the feel of your phone buzzing in your pocket, the smell of chocolate chip cookies, the sound of a daily train going by.
The two most common cues are; time and location. When situation X arises, I will perform response Y. Our response is regularly listening to our Take a Breath recording, the initiating situation is for you to choose.
The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence:
I will (Behavior) at (Time) in (Location)
I will listen to my Take a Breath recording, at night, after I brush my teeth, in my bed.
I will listen to my Take a Breath recording, on my lunch break after I look at my email, in my car.
You get the idea. The goal is to link your new Take a Breath experience you are wanting to repeat, repeat, repeat...to an already established behavior or event.
A great way to find a trigger for your new habit pattern is by looking at a list of your current habits or events that occur in your life. For example:
|Get out of bed|
Take a shower
Brush your teeth
Brew a cup of coffee
Get to school, Get to work
Log on your computer
Leaving work, Leaving school
Changing out of your work clothes
Putting on your walking/workout shoes
Sitting down for dinner
Turning off the lights
Going to bed
Or another list could be things that typically happen every day without fail, such as:
The sun rises, you get a text message, the song you're listening to ends, a program or newsfeed that you always watch/read is complete, the sun sets.
You are a Work in Progress
And that's it. All the current brain science would reinforce this simple habit pattern change. It will create lasting brain mapping potential for change. That said, it will be a work-in-progress and I invite you to explore some different variations and find the ones that work for you. Voltaire once wrote, “The best is the enemy of the good.”
However don't change your commitment too quickly. Find a way to stick with this new habit pattern practice for success. There is one simple rule that James Clear spoke of in his book, “ Never miss twice”. If you miss one day, try to get back into it as quickly as possible. Missing one workout happens, but I'm not going to miss two in a row. Maybe I'll eat a pizza one day, but I'll follow it up with a healthy meal. I can't be perfect, but I can avoid a second lapse. As soon as one streak ends, I'll get started on the next one.
The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It's the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. Missing once is often an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit. So watch for this, learn from it and adjust accordingly.
You can also look at the Take a Breath for Life 21-Day program. That could be a great place to support your habit pattern change by adding the accountability of another, and the power of intention.