Breaking The Unconscious Habit

From Leo Babauta:

Each day, we repeat movements, thought patterns, ways of interacting with others … and in this repeated practice, we are becoming (or have already become) good at these things. If you constantly check Facebook or Twitter, that is practice, and you are forming that habit, though it’s usually not with too much awareness.

When you smoke, or eat junk food, or speak rudely to others, or put yourself down internally, this is something you are practicing to be good at. You may already be good at these things.

What if, instead, we practiced consciously, deliberately, and became good at the things we really want to be good at?

You’ll often hear me say I’m bad at making good habits. While I’ve been working hard to buck this trend, it’s been my experience that bad habits tend to be exceptionally easy to form and difficult to break, while good habits are far too easy to break yet damn near impossible to form.

As I continue to struggle to develop good and break the bad, I’m certain that Leo is right and that awareness is the key. That becoming mindful of your challenges and conscious about how you plan to overcome them is the only way that those of us who persistently struggle can win. When we leave things to chance, we quickly and unconsciously get good at all those things that are bad for us. No matter how good we get, we will always have to keep one eye trained on what we are doing and another that occasionally checks in to ensure we are still moving in the right direction.

It will never be easy, it will never feel natural and it will likely never become a habit. However, if you regularly force yourself to think about where you want to excel, what you want to overcome and what is most likely to help you achieve success, there will be a far better chance that the things you practice turn out to be good for you.

For those who are unsure what you should be practicing, start small and answer a few of the excellent questions that Leo offers up in his full post.

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