In the final of this month’s blogs on habits, I’m thinking about habitual thinking: about how, if you always think the same, you will always get to the same place. Therefore, if you think in a new way, you will get to a different place. This different place might not be the ultimate goal, but it will be different to where you were – which can offer you perspective and can be refreshing.
Like for most things, a change is as good as a rest.
Have you ever given your mind a ‘make-over’? Many people are aware of the power of a physical make-over, be it face, hair or body, but the mind often gets overlooked – we forget to ‘make up’ our minds.
Contrary to how it sounds, this isn’t about making decisions. Instead, making up our mind can mean that we ensure that our thoughts are positive and our feelings towards others are encouraging and optimistic; we also need to be kind to ourselves. If we can do this, we are truly making up our minds – and the more we do it, the easier it gets. Like most other behaviour, it’s a habit… so new habits can be made and old habits can diminish.
One of my favourite questions to ask myself is, “Am I minding too much?” It’s basically about how we can get just a bit too bothered by very small stuff, often out of habit. Do you mind too much about small things? Once I start to think about this, I realise that there are quite a few things about which I mind a bit too much: cars blocking the Keep Clear part of a road junction near my house, and other people’s inconsiderateness in general were the main ones (I could go on). This is totally unproductive and a bit toxic: sometimes, I start to expect things to annoy me, and am almost waiting for them to happen to prove that yes, they are irritating. Definitely a case of minding too much.
At this point, I need to ask myself whether something matters all that much, in the big scheme of things; naturally, it helps to keep perspective and not get so bothered by small stuff. Of course, some things still bother me, but I try to keep it to things that really matter to me – as it’s not about losing passion and drive for things, just about not getting so worked up over things that were actually just old habits that no longer do anything useful.
“I’ve never been very good at that.”
“That’s just the way I am and there’s no changing me.”
“I always…” or “I never…”
This is what I call limiting language: pigeon-holing ourselves into small boxes that perhaps, in one sense, explain our behaviour and understanding of ourselves; yet, in another way, can be limiting and fettering. Many of the stock phrases we use to describe ourselves are just plain out-dated. They are old habits that, with constant repetition, continue to be peddled.
How about today you change your old habits and try something different? Instead of “I’ve always done that/been that way”, try instead “I’ll have a go at that and see where it takes me”. A whole new world of novel experiences and feelings await when you ask yourself if the old rules still apply. And if they don’t, where will that lead you? Somewhere exciting, I’m sure!
Happy new year to you!
Over the Christmas period, I’ve been thinking about habits and their place in life. I’ve come to the conclusion that many habits are liberating and energising, rather than fettering. This is because they save us from the difficult, draining business of making decisions and exercising self-control. For example, my morning routine of putting the kettle on, unstacking the dishwasher, eating breakfast and having a shower – every single day – means that I don’t have to think hard or be creative in the morning (handy, as my brain takes some time to warm up).
While it can feel tedious to have too many habits, a well-placed one can make life so much simpler and efficient. So, this week, I will be relishing my habits so my brain is freed up to be imaginative at the important moments.
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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