Developing new habits to help balanced living, can be a big challenge. The norm is that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Over the past 2 years, I have nurtured and created new habits and have been successful with maintaining them. Looking back, I can see that there were some important factors that were essential to my success.
Developing good balanced-living habits:
1. Create time – don’t wait for time, take time.
2. Make good routines – Do the new endeavour in the same way and at the same time – the same thing – at the same time – every time. It is easier to create a habit if you make it a routine, for example do the same time every time i.e., running in the morning, mediating from 7 -7:15, etc. Especially in the beginning as the habit is forming – you will be motivated by the great feeling it gives you. You feel how good it is for you and will fall into the rhythm of doing it, because you want more of that feeling.
3. Keep at it – the more that you do it , the easier it is, so do it again, and again, and again, – you are creating new little paths in the brain that eventually turn into new highways. Every time you do it, it becomes easier.
The biggest challenge though, when it comes to creating a new habit, is in the mind. The “monkey mind” I call it. The one that will tell you that you do not need to go for a run right now, it is too early, you are too tired, it is raining, it is cold, you are too busy and tomorrow will be much better. It will continue telling you that you are much better off without and it will, if you allow it, convince you that, yes indeed, mañana, will, of course, be much better.
The problem is that if we let ourselves be seduced by the “monkey mind”- days will go without running, meditating, writing that book, losing the weight, stopping smoking, dancing, taking care of ourselves – or whatever the goal is, days will pass, months will pass, years may pass, a lifetime may pass!
So how to turn off the “monkey mind” and get over the upstart to our jogging, meditating, writing? We can’t turn it off, but the less we listen to it, the less obnoxious it is .
First of all – the “monkey mind” never tells the truth, so by starting to realize that we are being fooled and conned by the a lying “monkey mind” – is the key. Starting to observe the messages and ask if this is really truth, is an important first step.
Monkey mind : This is way too early, turn off that alarm clock immediately, this has to be a joke !
You: Right it is early, but I will be grateful that I got up to run.
Monkey mind: Hey common – you can’t be serious, feel the warmth of the bed, close your sweet little eyes and dream.
You: Okay, I hear you are really tired and maybe we can nap in the afternoon.
Monkey mind: No no no – now is better, much better and apart from that it is cold and dreadful out there and by the way, you are too old to start running, you don’t need this!
You: I know what you are up to – and it sounds good, but I need my run, that is the truth, so I am off, tired, old and all.
When I wake up having planned an early morning run at 7 am – I can assure you that the “monkey mind” is there, trying every dirty trick in the box, to get me to stay in my warm bed and take another hour or two snoozing. So I am aware – and I know what is coming.
I have tried it so many times that I know that going out there running will benefit me in so many ways that I tell the “monkey mind” – “thanks for your input I’m off running anyway, buddy” – I know by now, that the run will do me so much good and I will love myself for doing it later, so I do it!
Other times I will follow a trick from Jeff Galloway the former Olympic runner, and say ‘ okay I hear you, you are so tired and all we will do this morning is, put the shoes on and run to the end of the drive”! But by the time I reach the end of the drive, I have smelled the fresh morning air, felt the air on my skin, and the sun on my face, and the “monkey mind” is forgotten and I am out there enjoying the run.
“Good habits, once established are just as hard to break as are bad habits” Robert Puller