A common issues plagues most of us, certainly me. Creating new habits, especially the good ones is tough. Many of us tend to write resolutions on 1st January and statistics show that >80% forget within the first 2 weeks of January. The funny part is that most wait for the next January for new resolutions rather than re-write or vow them the next morning. Creating new & good habits may not be that easy.
Let us explore the habit of meditation or even mindfulness. It is a habit like dieting or exercising and probably harder to inculcate & sustain since there are no immediate tangible results. If I followed a diet routine, I may but a weighing scale as we all like to stay motivated with tangible progress. Meditation is about changes in the subtler things, like improved decision making, improved emotional well-being among other things but these are harder to notice & measure. We also need implicit or explicit ratification from others. So if a friend of mine says ‘hey you seem to have lost weight’, it motivates me to try harder at the gym. It may not be that obvious to my friend on the positive effects of my meditative habits. So the question I ask “is that the reason why very few of us practice & sustain meditation or mindfulness? It is not like people need to be educated on its positive effects & yet we don’t get to it consistently.
As I ponder, I realise that answers maybe in the work that author James Clear suggested in his famous book — The Atomic Habits. I have picked 2 tips for this blog among many and I suggest you read the book.
1. Small changes in context always leads to large changes in behaviour over time. Every habit is initiated to the brain by a cue. We are more likely to notice cues if they stand out.
2. Make the cues of good habits obvious in your environment.
Let us see what he means by these 2 points.
New habit creation works best when the cue is highly specific and immediately actionable. I have made the mistake of selecting vague cues. For example, I wanted to start meditating and I told myself ‘Meditate when I have a lunch break’. Sounds reasonable for an amateur eye but James Clear argues that this is exactly where it fails. Do I meditate when I break, after I eat or any time during the break? You get the drift. Now I have cued that the minute I close my laptop for lunch, I will meditate for 5minutes which makes it specific and actionable.
The 2nd aspect on cues is that habit creation is best done by creating an environment — for example have you noticed people whisper in a church, or careful in a dark street? Did someone teach them to be so or did we picked it through the environment? In the same way, can there be a place dedicated for meditation? Can it have the perfect lights or aroma? That environment then becomes a cue and becomes obvious.
Those are 2 small tips to create new habits of any kind. While meditation maybe tough to measure or get external validation, when you do the process right, you will realise the difference. Try it.
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