New neural pathways are the key to permanent life changes.
I absolutely love coffee, but it was turning me into a monster, and making me feel like crap most of the time. So, I quit. I feel great, and this time, it’s for good.
I was reorganizing my office at work, and in the back of a desk drawer, I found a folded up piece of paper with eight lines of print on it. This is what it said:
It’s on my plan, I gotta do it.
Past Me said to do it, and Future Me will thank me, so let’s do it.
Once I start, I’ll be glad I did. All I have to do is take the first small step.
I don’t need to decide on this, or think about it. It’s already decided.
This is a compassionate act for myself, an act of love. Lets get to the loving.
I am doing this for others, to set an example for others, to make the world better.
Yes, “Just this once” does hurt. Let’s not fall for our old thinking traps.
It’s time, let’s get to work like a pro.
This was taken from a post on Zen Habits called What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It.”
It was from a time when I was trying to make some serious habit changes. (eating healthy, staying off of social media, getting organized, meditating, not losing my temper, among other things) and I had printed it off as a reminder to myself. If I remember correctly, this list helped me to maintain an upward trend for quite some time. It is amazing what a little bit of positive thinking can do.
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you
don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or
less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have
problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will
grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive
effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason
and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no
reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you
understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
There are a lot of things about myself that I would like to change. My eating habits, my organizational habits, my tendency to put things off, my fear of failure. I have been going about the process with the idea that I just need more self control, or I just need more grit, or a commitment, or a magic word, or a rubber band around my wrist that I can snap every time I reach for a brownie. And while these can be good things, they aren’t really working for me. In fact, they never have. Why then, would I continue to use methods that do not work? Because I believe they work. I have written them into my story.
From the moment we are born, we are writing a story, the story of our perception of reality. This story covers every aspect of our lives, and answers questions such as “Can people be trusted?” “Am I worth loving?” “What is Truth?” “What is Justice?” or “What will it take to make me happy?” Most of the important questions are answered before we even know we are asking them. Each of us has written a unique story, and none of them are perfect reflections of reality.
In the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant, each man experiences a different part of the elephant, and each man comes away with a different idea of what the elephant is, and what it’s for. Each man possesses the same amount of truth regarding the elephant, but what they have to gain from each other is perspective. So it is with our stories. None is any more or less true than the other. We do not need to seek truth from others, we have it within ourselves, but what we do need to seek is perspective. With understanding, and without judgement, there is much that we can learn from our fellow humans, about life, and about ourselves.
But other people are not the only ones who need our understanding. We need to stop judging and blaming ourselves. There is a reason for our behavior, and if our behavior needs to change, it is easier done with love and understanding than with any amount of self control.
Yesterday’s Post outlined my plan to focus on my own continued improvement. The meat of the plan had to do with changing habits, removing the bad, and adding the good. However, this is not something that I have done well with in the past. I often set out to make changes, and start strong, but soon my will power runs out, and I am left in a far worse position than where I started.
Coincidentally, a friend shared with me yesterday a website that he has created called How To Be Human, Which he described as “a self-help site that will deliver therapy-grade psychoeducation accessible to everyone.” As a good friend would, I immediately clicked on the link to check out his creation, and it absolutely blew me away.
I have been on a mission to resolve my personal struggles. To live free of anxiety, depression, self doubt, shame and regret, to connect with those I care for, to live in the present moment, to feel and enjoy it, to think clearly, to sleep easily and fitfully, to breathe, to find balance in what I eat, to be comfortable in my own skin whatever that looked like, to not fear being confused and vulnerable, to be warm and caring, to be authentic to myself and others, to find joy, meaning and harmony in how I live, to love, to be happy.
Every step of the way I wondered “what’s the link? How do all these diverse goals hang together? There has to be a simple answer.” This series is that simple answer. It is all part of being human. I have spent the last nine years learning something I didn’t ever expect I’d need to learn, how to be human.
The Series has 11 modules, the first of which is called CHANGE. The CHANGE module explains our ability to re-program our brains through learning, solution shaping, and enacting change. It also covers factors that may derail attempts to change, and those that help to facilitate change.
That just so happened to be exactly what I needed, and It has given me a little extra guidance as I begin (once again) my journey to make the most out of life on this planet.
How To Be Human is written with a very easy to read style, while still being extremely informative and educational. I can’t recommend this series highly enough, and I look forward to reading the second module MONITOR AND MOVE which is scheduled to be released on October 14th, 2014.
Thanks for reading folks.
I want to help people. I want to make a difference. My goal with this blog is to create content that encourages people, motivates them, makes them think, and reminds them of what is really important.
In my estimation, there are two main steps in writing this kind of material, and I have all but ignored the first.
Step 1: Change Your Own Life
This is not to say I haven’t been trying. Every day I strive to become a better father, a better husband, and a better person. I work on quitting bad habits, eating healthy, being happy, and staying organized. I have made vast improvements, but I am still on the first leg of my journey.
How can I be so bold as to say “This is what you must do to be happy” or “This is what you must do to have good relationships” when my own life is in shambles, and my relationships are unsteady at best? I may very well be speaking the truth, but only as a spectator. I might be giving good advice, but if I have not fully experienced the change in my own life, how can I speak it with confidence and authority?
So, going forward, I will be focused on my own continued improvement, until I reach a point when I am comfortable taking on Step Two (Using What You Have Learned To Help Others)
Plan Of Action
- Evaluate my current situation
- Find out what’s working, and what’s not
- Make a list of negative habits (over-eating sweets, losing my temper, spending too much time on social media, et cetera)
- Make a list of positive habits (Eating fruits and vegetables, meditating, exercising, and so forth)
- Choose one habit each month to work on, until I run out of habits, and thus become superhuman
- Save the world (or something)
I have found that accountability is a very strong motivator for me. So (whether you like it or not) you all are now officially a part of my accountability team. Help me stay on track, and don’t be afraid to tell me when I am going astray.
I am probably breaking blogger etiquette by doing this, but if you made it through this post, and you’re willing to help me out, go ahead and leave me a comment or a “Like,” just so I know I have your support. I promise I’ll never ask again.
Thanks for reading.