When you think of a habit that people have it is usually bad. Habits such as smoking and drinking usually come to mind. But we rarely talk about good habits; and even less about how to learn from our bad habits and use it for something good. So I will do it right now.
First, I want explain how bad habits are developed. The two examples from above (smoking and drinking) usually start with someone offering you a smoke/drink. Most people try these and most likely don’t have a good experience, but eventually they try it again; then again; then again. Until it becomes a routine part of their daily life. I personally drink a cup of coffee every morning. Now, I don’t wake up and then decide to have a cup of coffee, or think about my choices and then decide on coffee; I simply wake up and go right to making coffee. It has nothing to do with desire (although caffeine is addicting) it’s because it’s become a habit; a part of my daily routine.
With these habits there is something in common. They all start off gradually, small amounts and infrequently and then they become a daily habit; and then the amounts increase. So how can we use this to learn and benefit? I will tell you.
If you want to build a positive habit such as exercise, you need to apply the same principles that build bad habits.
- Do not try to exercise a lot, or heavily in one day. This would be the equivalent of drinking a case of beer, or smoking a pack of cigarettes at a time. You would become sick. You would hate it; and you would most likely not do it again, or at least for a very long time. You need to start out light. Make the experience enjoyable and something that you want to do again.
- Develop a routine and schedule. People with bad habits usually have a routine. Most smokers I know light up a cigarette immediately after a meal without thinking about it. This most likely started as a conscious thought, the idea that a cigarette after a meal is pleasurable. Don’t wait until you feel like working out. Simply set a schedule and do it without contemplating it.
- Make it a daily habit. Although there are physical and mental reasons for addiction, I believe the fact that it’s become routine makes it difficult for most people to break. And this is what you want to develop with your Good Habit program. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day, even if you don’t feel like you’ve done anything; you are building a habit that will last. You are making a life change. 2 hours twice a week is not as good as 10 minutes every day. I don’t care if it’s exercise, meditation, writing, or playing an instrument. And a lot of experts will agree with me. In time you will not even think about it; it will become a part of your normal life, the amount of time and energy will increase and you will find you are no longer the same person.
So next time you want to get started with something good, think about how you got started with something bad. Then use it to improve your life.