There are many things that we do day to day that we don’t even think about. Flipping on the light in your room, turning the key in the ignition, breathing. All of these are things that have become automatic. No thought required.
There was a time where you couldn’t drive, and where trepidation might enter your mind as you slowly turned the key. There was a time you didn’t know how to operate a door handle, let alone turn one on your way into the house. Even when you read the words “the house”, you instinctively thought of your home and made an automatic mental association with the word house and the concept of a home.
So how does this work? Loosely put, it’s what we call a habit. Habits form by repeated behavior and this behavior is enforced by particular thoughts, feelings, drives etc.
Habits can be a wonderful thing, as illustrated above, enabling you to accomplish many parts of life and even seemingly complex tasks with ease. Conversely, habits can be so instinctive that actions previously full of meaning or at least with some kind of purpose lose their shine and our emotional connection to the process.
So how does one start to develop sustainable, meaningful and positive habits?
1. Start with what and why:
Example: “I want to be more openly grateful to those around me. Why? Because lately I feel as though I take life for granted and given the increasing turmoil in the world, every small effort to spread love counts.”
This is the fun part. Maybe it’s a simple please and thank you? Maybe it’s a gratitude list? Maybe it’s clever handwritten cards or notes? A pay it forward campaign? A smile?
It can be so many things so long as it is backed by a “what” and “why”. The point is that the habit of recognizing people and being grateful becomes a habit that then triggers the “how”.
One of the best ways to enforce a habit of commitment is to share it with someone else. They can support you by engaging in the same behaviors and also reminding you to do the same. Knowing that your commitment is public is also a great internal motivator
4. Revisit and reinvest:
It is critical that for the positive continuity of any behavior that you revisit the “what” and “why” often, and get innovative with the “how” such that you continue to give meaning to the process and the actions. This can be done alone, with a friend, a diary, and group, a mentor, therapist, etc.
Fill your life with positive habits such that there is no room for the negative ones and you will be living a life of purpose and meaning.
For more information on supportive Recovery services as well as events and education on addiction contact The Detox Center of Los Angeles; 888-767- 5692