Helpful Reminders For Making New Habbits Stick

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.

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Get. Back. Up.

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“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” ~Japanese Proverb

These words are a refuge to me, and they bring great joy each time I hear them.  Trying to be healthy, trying to be a good husband and father, trying to make a difference in this world, I fall.  I have fallen many more than seven times, but there is so much comfort in knowing all I need to do is get back up, and keep going.  No need to waste time fretting, or complaining, or wishing, I just need to know that I can learn from my mistakes, and press on.

As I was pondering this phrase yesterday, I found the numbers a bit odd.  If I fall seven times, I would only have to get up seven times, not eight, right?  Well, that is assuming that I started from standing.  But if my original position was on the ground, I would have to stand up first, before I even fell once.  We don’t come walking out of our mothers womb, but we begin in a position of helplessness, and remain that way until we are strong enough to pull ourselves up, and start taking those first steps.

It is the same with any other aspect of our lives.  We do not start out as masters, we do not start out on our feet.  Once we do stand up, we do not need to worry about falling, because we can’t fall any farther than to the ground, which was where we started, and we already know how to stand up.  Fall seven times, stand up eight.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

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You are probably wondering why this post begins with an image of a dashing, ruggedly handsome man standing in the rain.  Probably something you’ve seen before.  Not really a big deal.  Well, actually, to me it is a big deal.  I hate the rain.  hate it.  I hate how its wet, and cold, and splashy.  I hate the way wet clothes stick to me.  It is uncomfortable.  I avoid it at all costs.  That is, I used to, until I learned something about discomfort.

I had been trying to practice acceptance and mindfulness in seemingly difficult and frustrating situations, so naturally the next time I was out in a storm, I gave it a shot.  When walking out into the rain, I usually think, “I hate rain, I don’t want to get wet,” This time, I told myself instead, “It is okay to get wet.  It is okay to get cold.  You will soon be dry again.”  I paid close attention to what the rain felt like, and really experienced it.  To my bewilderment, It wasn’t that bad.  It was actually quite enjoyable.

All this time spent running from the rain, and hiding under umbrellas, it wasn’t actually the rain that was making me uncomfortable.  It wasn’t the wet, and it wasn’t the cold.  The discomfort I was experiencing was caused by the ideas I had about rain.  By things that I had been told as a child, (“We can’t go outside and play now, its raining.  You don’t want to get all wet, do you?”) and by the way I had reinforced these ideas as an adult.  Now I love the rain, and while this is not a life altering change in itself, it has changed the way I look at difficult situations.

Now I am wondering, could I solve my more serious problems in the same way?  Could I simply “think away” all of my discomforts?

  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Conflict
  • Fear of Rejection
  • Procrastination
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Caffeine Addiction
  • Sugar Addiction
  • Lack of Discipline

Well, I will let you know how that works.  But in the mean time, I will be happy to have overcome this small mental hurdle.

(Thanks to my lovely wife Sarah for the photo!)

I’ve Got Problems

This morning was terrible. I woke up1 and walked2 downstairs3.  I was extremely tired, as my four kids4 are constantly interrupting my sleep5 schedule.  I went to the sink, and started washing6 all the dishes that were left from dinner7 last night. It was then that I heard8 a noise coming from the refrigerator. Click click…Click click. With a little trouble shooting, I discovered that the refrigerator was turning itself on9 and off, and was failing to keep our food10 cold/frozen.

It just so happened that about a month ago, my brother-in-law lost his house. He was moving into an apartment, and needed a place to store his refrigerator11. We offered that he could keep it in our back room12, and we would use it for a little extra cold storage. I spent the next half hour moving all of the food13 out of the broken machine, and into the one that was functioning properly.  Late for work14,15, I ran out the door, and locked it behind me.  At the same moment, I realized I left my phone16 and keys17 inside.  I managed to break in without waking everyone up, and I was on my way.  As I said, My morning was terrible, and I hope the rest of the day doesn’t turn out the same.  I have it pretty rough.

Footnotes:

  1. I am alive!  I have been given a brand new day to experience life and enjoy the best of what planet earth has to offer
  2. I have legs, and good health!  I can run, walk, dance, skip, and jump!
  3. I live in a house!  I am not out on the street, and my house even has multiple levels!
  4. I have four kids!  How amazing is that?  Four small people to watch as they grow and learn.
  5. I sleep in a bed, by the way, safe from the elements, grizzly bears, cougars, venomous snakes, and the like.
  6. I have instant access to water that I can drink and wash things with
  7. I ate dinner last night!  not everyone can say that.
  8. I have ears! and I can experience a vast array of auditory pleasures.
  9. I have electricity!
  10. I have an abundance of food!  probably enough to last my family and me a month if rationed carefully.
  11. How convenient is that?  A back-up refrigerator?
  12. Did I mention I live in a house?  It has all kinds of rooms, even a “back room”
  13. See number 10
  14. I have a job, where I get to help people, and the work is not terribly difficult.
  15. I am able to leave for work, and know that my children are in the capable hands of my lovely wife!
  16. I have a phone!  I can contact anyone easily and simply from anywhere I may be
  17. I have a vehicle!  (Well technically it is my father-in-law’s.  He is letting me borrow it since my vehicle is out of commission.)

It is amazing how easy it is to find things to complain about.  Problems.  I can’t believe that these are the kinds of things that leave me frustrated.  Most of my problems really aren’t that severe, and I have much to be thankful for.