One of the most important things I learned through my transformation, is that you need to become mindful of your routines. I was very bad at mindlessly wasting time daily, without actually noticing, or being completely aware that I was actually doing it. I would come home from school or work, warm up my unhealthy high carb and fatty dinner and sit down on the couch for 3-4 hours of mindless television watching. I had formed an unhealthy habit and didn’t even know it.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being aware of what is actually going on around you and what your mind is actually doing. Human beings are very good at falling into habitual mindless behaviours, simply because they are easy. The formation of habits can be quite good and should not require significant decision making powers. Deciding what clothes to wear each morning, or knowing how to drive your car without actually having to think about it are good habits to have as we do not need to dedicate much brain-power to these choices. The problem occurs when these habitual behaviours are toxic or unhealthy.
Mindfulness is opening your mind and realizing that your actions are taking place out of mindless habit rather than out of the utilization of actual conscious brain power.
Humans are habitual creatures
As a human myself, I am no different. Neither are any of you. We all have our habits that we know exist, we are just not conscious of them. The trick is to become conscious of the triggers that lead to our unhealthy behaviours.
Let’s take driving as an example. This morning, when you left home and drove to work (unless you are lucky and live walking distance away), you got in your car, turned on the ignition, put on your seatbelt (hopefully), put the car in drive and pushed the accelerator to drive away. You learned this behaviour when you were a teenager and have repeated these actions countless numbers of times to make it into a habit. When you first started driving, you likely hit the brake too hard, accelerated too slowly (or quickly in my case) and exaggerated turning the wheel when making a left turn. Over time, your driving became habitual and thus quite smooth and not as jerky.
Now imagine that the next time you got in your car, the accelerator was on the left side, the brake was under your right hand and you had to drive on the left side of the road, rather than the right side (I clearly live in North America). You would be entirely flustered. All of the habits that you had learned over time would not be working and you would have to actively engage your mind in order to RE-LEARN how to drive the new car. The really cool thing is that over time you would learn how to drive this new car and it would eventually become habitual as well. This is called Neuroplasticity.
We can break the old and LEARN NEW HABITS
Neuroscience research has shown that humans amongst all other living things can learn new habits. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to create new connections between different cells or places in our cerebrum to learn new habits. It is for this reason that I no longer believe people if they tell that they can’t learn anything new. It’s not that they can’t, it’s that they DON’T WANT TO.
I still have many habits that are less than ideal. In order to live the daily life that I want to live, I need to continue to become mindful of the triggers that start the bad habits, then use my Brain power to CONSCIOUSLY form newer healthier habits.
Honestly, anyone can do this. The WILL to change and grow is all you need. If you are frustrated with how things are going in your life, your health, your relationships, your business etc. look inside yourself and determine what the habitual root cause of your unhealthy habits are.
My daily food habits used to be incredibly unhealthy – I became frustrated with how things were going and decided to change. I tried many different avenues to improve my eating habits. Once I became mindful and aware of the triggers, I was able to make a conscious choice to break the old habits and form new healthy habits. I used Mindfulness Meditation and deep breathing exercises to improve my awareness of the bad habits that I had accumulated. I am not a meditation instructor, so for more information on Meditation techniques, you can Google Mindfulness Meditation or use an app such as Headspace or YouTube videos for guided meditation.
Now it’s your turn.
What is it in your life that is frustrating you? What do you want to change?
There is no better time than the present – Right now – to decide to make a change. I used to have a really bad habit of saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”. My mom always replies to me “tomorrow never comes”. I finally understand what she means.
There is no better time than right now to look inside yourself and determine the habits that are holding you back.
Decide to do it NOW! Find a way and make it happen!