Human beings are creatures of habit. We generally feel the most comfortable, safe, and secure when our lives are orderly and we are on a schedule. We spend millions of dollars on planners and calendars and reminder apps so we stay on track and don’t miss a beat.
Part of living a well-organized life is developing habits. We set our alarms so we wake up at the same time every day. We go through the motions of our morning routine; go to the bathroom, make coffee, check our email, Pause with Richa…almost as if we were robots in a sense. Think of what would happen if you did just one of these things out of order, say you made your coffee before you went to the bathroom, would that completely throw off your day?
Of course, not everyone functions in this manner. There are those of us who function quite well amongst chaos and madness; those among us who burst out of bed in the morning and take the day by storm…those “fly by the seat of your pants” kinds of people, the “whatever will be will be” folks. Even though they may not be as structured as others, they still are creatures of habit. Their habits just differ from those in the first example.
Habits. When I first mentioned this word, did the term “bad habits” pop into your head? It happened to me as well when I was contemplating this blog post. Why is it that we immediately assign a negative connotation to the word “habits”? Are habits a bad thing or do we just interpret them as such because, well, no one likes to be told what to do and that is kind of what a habit does? It gives you the next step, it tells you the next thing to do when you’re in a situation in life where you either don’t want to have to make a choice or you simply can’t for whatever reason…like when you first wake up in the morning. Or maybe when life deals you a tough hand you have a habit of becoming a recluse, staying at home sipping tea and journaling, avoiding phone calls, texts, and emails at all costs.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charles Duhigg thought the subject of habits was so fascinating that he wrote a book entitled “The Power of Habit”. I’ve been engrossed in reading this book and wanted to share some thoughts with you. In working through some difficult situations in my life, I have come to realize that I have formed habits that kept me running in circles. It was my safe place, I felt comfortable there but I was getting nowhere. So I took a step back and, in an effort to change my habits, chose to read Duhigg’s book.
Duhigg states that “Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” Think about that for a second. Sports legends learned the basics of their sport when they were small children by doing drills and practicing. They kept doing these things until they became second nature; they developed habits. By the time they made the big leagues the things that were once drills and practice now were automatic. The same can be said for bad habits.
Duhigg also mentions, “Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize – they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” He also suggests,”Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.”
So the habits we form essentially shape our life experiences. We can not only form habits that will help us reach our goal of living a happy, fulfilled life, but we can also change negative habits that we have formed. Habits are powerful but we are even more so. As Duhigg puts it, “If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.”
One of the most powerful habits I have formed over the years that has helped me and many of my clients has been my daily Pause. I find time every day, even if it’s just a few moments sitting in my car waiting for my girls to get out of swim practice, just to Pause and be at peace; to breathe deeply and focus my thoughts inward. I want to invite you to join me in Pausing by committing to my Free 21 Day Pause Challenge. This is a simple, quick program that I created to help each of you develop the habit of Pausing. Each day, you will receive a video message from me with new inspiration, tips, and encouragement for your daily Pause. Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so let’s spend the next 21 days creating time in our lives for the Pause. Feel free to invite friends and family to join you in the challenge as well. The more the merrier, right? So, who’s up for the Challenge? Just click the link above and follow the instructions to begin your 21 Day Pause Challenge.
Until next time, may this pause be with you!