OK, so I finally wrote my part 2. A continuation from an article I wrote earlier; Live Don’t Just Exist Part 1 about the importance of living with intention, choosing each moment and taking action. It took me a while to put this second piece together mainly because I wanted to think through the actual process and not just put together a story. so here it is…..
We all develop daily habits for everything we do; how we think, how we eat; how we sleep etc. And for me, I was never really aware of all of my habits; the good, the bad or the ugly. Mainly because I wasn’t really paying attention to them. Whenever I thought about habits I’d think about the obvious ones like a bad habit of overspending, drinking, or eating junk food. Or the good habits like eating well and exercising daily. But what I started paying attention to recently are my subtle habits, the ones that are so engrained in the fabric of my mind they have become who I am. I realized that even my thoughts are habits, and all my habits have been shaped by me.
Live Less Out of Habit
“Consciously create habits because habits unconsciously dictate your life” ~ unknown
How did I start identifying my habits?
So, when a strong emotion presents itself, maybe I’m frustrated from a long day, I’m angry because someone cut me off on the i95, or I’m pissed because someone rubbed me the wrong way. The emotion triggered is my first indication of a possible habit and the way I react is my habit.
For example, every time I hit the road and I think someone’s driving sucks, I allow anger to consume me, it takes over my entire body, I shake, I feel my head heat up, I clutch the steering wheel harder and my body tenses up – yes I have taken the time to observe the reaction of all my cells. It’s draining, but that reaction is merely a bad habit I have allowed to persist.
I’m finally realizing this is completely unnecessary. I mean, sure someone may cut me off and force me to slam on my brakes, but 99.9% of the time that person did not wake up that morning and decide that at 5:55 pm, I will cut Alice off and force her to slam on her brakes, then proceed to point and laugh and drive slow in front of her. So why keep getting all worked up over it?
Live More Out of Intent
So How do I reverse my bad habits?
So what I started doing is applying yoga, yes yoga. If you read my article on How Yoga Changed My Life, you’ll totally get what I mean.
Once this emotion swells up, that’s my indication to choose a different outcome. And I have a couple choices to make. I can continue to allow rage to take full control over me, or I can start to train my brain to relax. Everyone relaxes differently but for me, I focus on each part of me, little by little. I ease up on the steering wheel a bit, drop my shoulders, start thinking about things that make me smile or laugh. And just this effort alone takes my mind off of what angered me in the first place because I’m bringing awareness to the moment and slowly developing a new habit of reversing this bad habit of getting so angry.
“All habits form slowly and gradually and before you know it you have the habit, the habit has you” ~ unknown
This self-reflection has allowed me to take the opportunity to be more mindful and live more intentionally because I’m choosing my attitude rather than allowing the moment to do it for me subconsciously. And each time similar events occur I am learning to approach them in a more positive manner. Meaning, the minute I feel the rage or any emotion rising in my chest, to me, it is only an indication to redirect that energy or just let it go.
Old Habits Die Hard
I won’t change my rage tomorrow, and maybe not even next week. But I’m well aware of it, which is the first step. And by not accepting it for what it is, I’m actively taking steps to redirect it, which is the next step.
I have been trying to exercise this practice whenever I feel similar tensions arise. Whether or not they are this intense. Why? Because it makes me feel better, so why not? It’s less stressful and more productive. It doesn’t mean I’m accepting a situation; it doesn’t mean I’m allowing it to “fly”, which is what I was in the habit of thinking. It means the opposite; it means I’m taking control and I’m choosing my reaction and outcome. Becoming more aware of my thoughts and actions has allowed me to live a more intentional life and forces me to take responsibility for my actions and my state of mind.
I’m no longer OK with my excuses of “well that’s just how I am” or “I have always had road rage”. Because what that really means is “I don’t care enough to change” and “road rage has complete control over me and I’m ok with that”.
Now of course, with anything, there is work involved. As I said, road rage is my biggest obstacle and I’m still not in full control there, but I know I will be. Learning to take control of my emotion where it is most challenging for me to do so, will allow me to easily take control of my emotions in other aspects of my life. But trust me, if this shit was easy there would be peace on earth, I wouldn’t be writing this and stress just wouldn’t exist. So simply put “to change your life, change your habits”.
And why bother to take the time to do this? Why focus so much on my daily habits and not just brush them off?
Well, I think about it like this: Imagine if you could choose all your thoughts at every single moment. Then imagine if you choose only happy and positive ones all the time. Then imagine your thoughts create your reality (which I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer of). Now think about how many of your thoughts you have control over on a daily basis? Right now, probably not as many as we think because we don’t often overlook the subconscious ones; the most difficult to address and most critical ones to change.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~Carl Jung
Fun fact: The word “habit” appears 26 times in this article lol