July 30, 2003.
"We first make our habits and then our habits make us."
Each and every one of us has some really good habits, some not so good habits and some truly bad habits. The key to living a life you love is to eliminate as many of the undesirable habits you have acquired over time while acquiring those habits that can positively influence your life. As Im sure youre well aware of by now, this habit forming process is not as nearly easy as it sounds.
But it isnt all that difficult either. You just need to stay focused and be committed to making these positive changes daily. You can acquire any habit you want and then keep that habit by living that habit daily. As you live the habit, the habit becomes a part of you. Fair enough, but how do you go about living a new habit?
"A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit."
You live a habit by making it an integral part of who you are and what you do. In its simplest terms, acquiring a new habit is a game of spaced repetition. It is similar to learning how to play a game such as tennis. When you first step onto the tennis court, you have no idea what you are doing. You initially have no shortage of bad habits that need correcting.
If you do not make the necessary adjustments, your game will continue to suffer and any improvement will be negligible. On the other hand, as you repeatedly practice the correct way to play over and over and over again, your game will show steady signs of improvement. This enhanced performance provides powerful, positive feedback that will motivate you to practice and play even more.
"Choose the life that is most useful, and habit will make it the most agreeable."
These same basic fundamentals apply when it comes to making lasting changes in your life. It all begins with a habit that you want to make a permanent part of your daily routine. In order to initiate lasting change, the change must be important to you and further, you must want to make the change.
In a nutshell, acquiring any good habit requires a change of PLACE, swapping out a bad habit by replacing it with the habit you seek to acquire. Instead of keeping that nasty old habit you want to eliminate, you exchange the good habit for the bad habit and begin using the good habit in its place. It is exceedingly important that you show a great deal of commitment early in the process, when the risk of relinquishing the good habit and falling back into the bad habit is at its greatest.
"Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast."
Norman Vincent Peale
Then you must continue to use the habit, use the habit, use the habit... over and over and over again. Just as is the case in the game of tennis, repetition is the key to your habit forming success.
The more you do it, the better you become at doing it. The better you get at it, the more you will want to do it again and again. Before you know it, the good habit will have grabbed you for good and will have become an integral part of your life. The habit will now have become learned and now can be lived.
The Bottom Line Grab a good habit and then watch it grab you.
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