- self growth
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Prov. 22:6.
In my previous post, I quoted Confucius saying that the nature of men is always the same. It is their habits that separate them. This had me thinking that habits must be very powerful if they can separate our nature.
Good habits are not acquired simply by making good resolves, though the thought must precede the action. We develop good habits in the workshop of our daily lives. Great moments of test and trial do not build character, they simply display it. It is the often uneventful, commonplace routine of daily life that fashion the habits that direct our lives and form our character. Our habits are acquired by practice.Good habits are not acquired simply by making good resolves, though the thought must precede the action. Click To Tweet
King Solomon taught, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We may not always know what lies ahead, but we find strength and safety in good conduct. We need to organize our lives according to good principles and chart the right course as we journey in life.
Through life, we learn that good character-building habits mean everything. It is by such behaviour that we harness the real substance and value of life. The way we live outweigh any words we may profess to follow. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Man’s destined purpose is to conquer all habits, to overcome the evil in him and to restore good to its rightful place.” This echoes the importance or power of our habits.
Bad habits are a reflection of our thoughts and personalities, our behaviour and conduct. They are degrading to the choice qualities which are our God-given endowments of faith, honesty, integrity, and uprightness. This is where good habits begin. Someone has observed, “When a man boasts of his bad habits, you may rest assured they are the best he has.”
Habits are subject to change and improvement. Our environment and circumstances help in this process which means it is important to be in the right place. Our great challenge is to learn how to control ourselves. We must learn for ourselves and act for ourselves, being careful not to follow those doing wrong. Some may ask who sets the bar? When you engage in a bad habit, you know your habit is bad. You are just not willing to agree because you do not want to change it.
An ancient proverb states that good habits result from resisting temptation. Such resistance often takes the form of a persevering struggle. When bad habits become a part of our lives we need more than a desire to overcome them, we must ACT.
We should become so involved in acquiring good quality traits and participating in character-building activities that there is no time to engage in anything worthless or harmful. Our habits should be those that make us susceptible to growth and development.
The strengths that enable us to set aside the urge to do wrong are self-mastery, self-control, and self-discipline. It is a wonderful feeling to conquer wrong practices and to be free and unencumbered from their detrimental effects. When we have conquered our bad habits and replaced them with good ones, living as we should, then we are on our way to a fulfilled life.Self-mastery, self-control, and self-discipline are required strengths that enable us to set aside the urge to do wrong. Click To Tweet
Ernest L. Wilkinson, speaking to the students of Brigham Young University, said: “Character … is not something to be obtained by ease and indolence or being socially agreeable. It cannot be acquired by absorption or by proxy or on the auction block. It is a reward derived from honest toil in overcoming difficulties. We grow by mastering tasks which others consider impossible.”
The right behaviour implies a strict adherence to moral principles and honesty of purpose. We need to ask ourselves, “Are my usual thoughts and present actions worthy of a good life? Am I setting my sights on positive goals and working to obtain them?” Anything short of our best isn’t good enough.
“All people are the same; only their habits differ.” – Confucius
A lot of elements of our characters are often expressed unconsciously by our nature and habit. Our character is constituted with thirty per cent nature by birth and seventy per cent habit formed by daily life. Our character is expressed in many characteristics. These characteristics are built up with thirty per cent of our nature and seventy per cent of our habit.Real world habits often exhibit additional features suggesting they are insensitive to current goals and intentions. Click To Tweet
See you may have been born a slow person. If you were under strict parents and teachers who would not allow you to be slow but compelled you to be quick, it would change, to some extent, the slowness you received by birth. On the other hand, if you are born slow and lived with parents who are also slow, then a habit of being slow would have be built up within you. The slowness you receive by birth would be joined to a habit of slowness to form a character with this terrible characteristic.
However, habits are usually formed from narrowly defined context-response mappings. These mappings are implemented in a manner that is not dependent on a goal or intention.
Real world habits often exhibit additional features suggesting they are insensitive to current goals and intentions.
The reasons I say this are:
- People rarely change habitual behaviours for alternative behaviours that meet the same goal. For example switching from a daily jogging habit to cycling.
- Habit performance often persists even when the value or relevance of the goal has changed or been achieved. You find yourself still running even after you have lost the 10kg that inspired the daily run.
This happens because our conscious mind hands down tasks to the subconscious mind. Here patterns of behaviour get ingrained and are triggered automatically. That’s the reason we feel habits are automatic and that we have little or no control over them.
When we learn to do a task it gets stored in our subconscious memory database. This is so that we don’t have to learn it all over again every time we need to do it. This is the very mechanics of habits. First, you learn to do something. When you repeat the activity enough number of times, your conscious mind decides to not bother about the task anymore. It is handed over to your subconscious mind so that it becomes an automatic behavioural response. I call this muscle memory.
You will see this to be true in snipers, sports players, artists, music players. You probably see it in any discipline of life, to be honest.
The key to note here is that habits always start consciously. If a pattern of behaviour can be learned consciously, it can be unlearned consciously too.
Any pattern of behaviour strengthens if we repeat it and weakens if we don’t repeat it. Repetition is food for habits.
When you repeat a habit, you are convincing your subconscious mind that the habit is a beneficial behavioural response. This means it should be triggered as automatically as possible. However, when you cease to repeat behaviour, your mind comes to think that it is no longer needed. It’s worthwhile to mention that research has confirmed the fact that when our habits change, our neural networks also change.
The point I’m trying to make is that habits are not rigid behavioural patterns that you can’t change. Though habits have a sticky nature, we are not stuck with our habits. They can be changed but first, you need to convince your mind that they are not needed. Habits always serve a need even if the need was not so apparent.
There are ways to change your habits. In this blog, I will do my part in helping you to become a better person through better habits. Stay tuned!
“Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.” – Socrates
Ever paused to actually reflect on what you have been through in life and how it has shaped you into the person you are today? That is what I want to talk about today, how things will go wrong and how you move past that and continue your journey to mastery.
But before we get into that, tell me, how do you handle a situation where you have been working so hard on your marriage and one day you walk into your bedroom and your wife says she wants a divorce cause she doesn’t love you anymore?
How do you lead a multi-million dollar or fortune 500 company yet you can’t control your teenage son and their rebellion? How do you bounce back from surviving a near-fatal accident only to be diagnosed with cancer a few months later?
How do you transition from running what you thought was a successful enterprise to going back on the job market and living on minimum wage? How do you fall in love again after every man you have been with keeps taking a piece of you away when they leave you?
How does a healthy, happy and young couple fail to conceive a child? How does someone fail to stick to a single goal that will change their life for just 30 days?
My answer to all these scenarios is simple. Life happens, and we have to suck it up and deal with it.
A bit harsh you may say but consider this idea: a bird in flight. The bird lives totally in the moment, completely focused on its flight, perhaps using its sharp eyes to search for food. Just one thing to focus on, flying.
It doesn’t start thinking, “Why does it have to be so cold here? What do the other birds think of me? What am I going to do when I meet up with the other birds later? Will I be successful at nest building? Why are my feathers like this? Why can’t I have bigger breasts? Why can’t I wake up earlier like the other birds?” Of course, as humans, we have bigger brains than the bird, and we can solve problems and create poetry and build skyscrapers. Yet these big brains cause the problems with overthinking things, feeling anxiety and frustration and depression and anger over the things that happen to us and might happen to us and have already happened to us but that we can’t stop thinking about.
Letting go is the key that unlocks your freedom from life happening around you, understanding your worth and knowing that everything is not going to be smooth sailing is a game changer.
Below are 7 major things I want you to let go as we move into the new month, and hopefully move you closer to finding and fulfilling your purpose.
Our stress comes from wanting things to be a certain way, and then we get stressed when things inevitably don’t go that way. But if we could let go of how we wanted it to be and accepted and appreciated reality as it is, we would let go of the stress.
We procrastinate because of a fear of failure, hard tasks, confusion, discomfort. But if we could let go of wanting things to be easy, successful, comfortable … and just accept that there is a wide range of experiences, we could just do the task.
• Habits & distractions:
By the way, most people have a hard time changing habits for this same reason — we procrastinate on the habit just like we procrastinate on work tasks. We also go to distractions all day long for the same reasons.
• Irritation/frustration with people:
We get irritated with people because they don’t behave the way we’d like. And this damages our relationships with them because we’re angry at them. It makes us less happy. Instead, we could let go of wanting them to be a certain way, accept them as they are, and either just be with them or leave them. It makes the relationship much better.
• Loss & death:
When a loved one dies, or we lose a job, or we get a major illness, this is a loss that causes grieving and suffering. And while that’s unavoidable (and we should accept our grieving), being able to let go helps us to deal with this loss.
• Being present: Many of us would like to be more present in life so that we don’t miss it as it happens. So that we can enjoy it fully. Imagine having a delicious dish in front of you, and you eat it but are thinking about work while you chew … you’d be missing out on the flavours of the dish. But if you could give it your full attention, you’d fully appreciate the dish. Life is exactly like this … we are so obsessed with thinking about other things, that we can’t be present in the moment. We can learn to let go of this future- or past-oriented thinking, and be more present.
The root of our problems is fear — from procrastination to not starting a business to being overweight — and the root of fear is holding onto how we want things to be and not anticipating that life will happen. It’s enough to note that if we can let go of or loosen up on how we really want things to be, we can loosen up the fear as well.Letting go is the key that unlocks your freedom from life happening around you, understanding your worth and knowing that everything is not going to be smooth sailing is a game changer. Click To Tweet
This famous quote by Reinhold Niebuhr rings true:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Let this be your mantra in this coming month.
“You can’t solve a problem if you tackle it at the same level that it is. You need to migrate to a higher thinking.” – Mansfield Mukuchamano
Most people struggle to reach their goals because they don’t assess their surroundings and because they don’t ask, “Are my surroundings helping me to stay on the path that leads to my goal?” If it is not, then something needs to be done about it. The constant influence of our surroundings shapes our minds and, hence, our behavioural patterns. For example, if we surround ourselves with angry and stressed people all day, it is harder to be calm and peaceful. The people around us can uplift us or bring us down, and so can the environment or things around us. A messy and cluttered house is not uplifting. It congests energy and makes it hard to think, to be creative and uplifted.
Your goal defines the path and the path defines the environment. Let me elaborate on this, the first step is to figure out the goal, then comes outlining a clear systematic path that leads to that goal. Once this is done, you need to establish your surroundings. Our surroundings are the people, things and the environment we surround ourselves with, and these people and things play a huge role in shaping who we are. Establishing the right surroundings is crucial in helping us stay on the path that leads us to our goal. Everything begins in the mental sphere first before it manifests in the physical sphere. You think to yourself “I would like to have a pizza” first then you get up and go and get yourself some pizza. But it began in your mind with a thought. Each thought has a picture, sound and colour associated with it.
A prolonged concentration on a thought eventually brings it into manifestation on the physical sphere. The longer you think about wanting pizza the stronger the thought form becomes. As the thought form becomes stronger you start to speak it out loud. You may express this intention to yourself or someone by saying “I feel like having pizza”. As you think more about this and hence put more energy into the thought form you will start to manifest it in the physical sphere. Now at some point, you will stand up and say “I’m going to go and get myself some pizza”.
At this stage, you have sent a signal into the atmosphere that your desire or your goal is to eat pizza so the environment begins to manifest your path to that goal. Now watch this, if you are in a remote village where you can’t dial a delivery from Dominos then this means that you need to SHIFT to a place where this is possible otherwise you are not going to realise your goal. You may have been stuck in an environment that you are not growing in or being fruitful, the only way is OUT.
You have to make a conscious decision to take your goal on a path that will see it fulfilled. It may come down to changing friends, changing neighbourhoods, changing jobs or your profession but whatever it comes down to the decision you have to make is to change your environment. This needs to be a very intentional decision because it means breaking out of familiar territory into spaces you are not familiar with. This might be very uncomfortable for a lot of people but as cliche, as this may sound your goals are on the other side of your comfort zone.
Let us know in the comments section how you positively changed your environment and how that is going for you. We would love to hear about your new exciting journey.