February 17, 2016

Why a good habit can be bad for you.

Yes, there are some good habits

I don't think Nir Eyal (www.nirandfar.com) will mind if I mention that I read his blog today on one ritual that has brought him much happiness. I'm not sure if I should tell you what it is - (spoiler alert) - but it has to do with adult friendships. It's a good one! Well worth reading! And I agree with him, it's good to get into the habit of... oh no, I'll let you read it for yourself.

He's not the only one to mention how habits can be good for you. I recently had Melissa, (Sorted, by Melissa), an organization specialist, come to my house to help me declutter. She asked me, "How often do you throw stuff away from your school files/desk?" And I looked at her as if she had asked me if I still remembered calculus from university. 
"Throw stuff away regularly?" I repeated dumbly? 
"Like when you go shopping," she said, "and you clear out your fridge, and throw away the packaging from the tomatoes..."

She told me how having a good habit (of tidying up or throwing away things on a regular basis) can clear the brain for more difficult tasks it needs to do in order to get through the day. Apparently, our brains get 'decision fatigue' when we have to make decisions (LIKE I DO), about every single thing in our lives, like: Wake up now, or set the snooze? What should I wear? Eat first, or shower first? Have tea or coffee? What's for breakfast? Sweet or salty? Eggs, oatmeal or smoothy? What, no pancakes? Etc. You can see how fatigued I am by the time I get to work!

So, sometimes, habits can be extremely helpful things to have. Even for us 'questioners' who have to have a reason for everything before we decide if we want to do it. The author of 'Better than Before' Gretchen Rubin has a really fun quiz that will help you figure out why you can or can't keep up good habits.

But habits can be dangerous too!

And then again, today I was driving along, and daydreaming - as I do sometimes while driving down familiar roads - and I thought - 'Wait a minute' - I'm going to try out a new road now. I hooked a left unexpectedly (Luckily no one was behind me), and zigzagged along a new road, until  got to my destination. As I did it, I was no longer daydreaming. I was looking around, checking out the houses, looking at the trees, the bushes, the view from here, that was different from the view from there.

And I remembered how often I have told people, in my workshops, that in order to grow, we have to jump out of our comfort zones. By changing one small habit, like trying to brush your teeth with the wrong hand, you can experience that even such a mundane task can be done in a mindful - 'in the moment' kind of way.

And since we don't know how long our lives will be, but what we do know, is that we are here right now, at this moment, it might be a good thing to stop and just BE in this moment. And sometimes that can only be achieved by changing your habits!

A fine balancing act

I would say, since my life is a constant struggle between growth and comfort, that it's a good idea to set some good habits - like my attempting to write a few times a week in order to get into a regular writing habit. I actually felt myself craving doing some writing yesterday!

But it's also a wonderful idea to go crazy once in a while, and try something unexpected, go somewhere new, shake it up a bit! Last night I dreamt I was petting some tame lions. I was sure all was well, but then along came a lion who was rather unfriendly. When I realized I was in danger, I didn't run away (since, duh, lions can run much faster than I can), instead, I used my dream superpower, and took off in flight, right into the sky! (since, duh, lions can't fly, now, can they?).

Happy habit making/breaking!

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful cohesion of how having good habits bring free us up to focus on the more important decisions in our days while at the same time switching up a habit brings us more in the moment where we get out of that conversation in our head and start interacting with our world.