Although I have been blessed in that I’ve never had to deal with addiction to alcohol or drugs, I have endeavored to change or correct many bad habits over the years. From little things like making the bed every day to bigger things like developing a regular exercise routine and taking the right actions instead of procrastinating. I’ve had more success with the first two than the last one, although I am making progress on my lifelong procrastination habit.
My friend Blaine Oelkers has a simple trick for starting good habits, which is what he calls habit linking. The idea is to link the new behavior you are trying to create to something you already do on a regular basis. This helped me a great deal with making the bed every day, because I linked making the bed to brushing my teeth in the morning, one of the very first things I do after waking up. I won’t claim 100 percent victory – but I make the bed now at least six out of seven days a week, which is a lot more often than almost never. I like it, too, because that small act gives the whole bedroom a tidier and more welcoming feel than coming into the room to see the sheets and blankets scrambled on the bed.
Exercise outside of regular meetings with my trainer took a bit more effort. At first it was torture. I didn’t like to do it, so I dragged my feet, came up with really important things I had to do instead, got headaches, and found other reasons not to exercise. Once I decided it was important – and I was important enough to make it a priority – I started looking for ways to make it enjoyable. Instead of crocheting while watching TV, I got on the treadmill or the exercise bike. Then I remembered we have a beautiful walking path mere steps outside our back door and started doing the 2.5 mile round trip circuit a few times a week. I can’t speak to anyone else, but for me, it just takes a couple weeks to get into the swing again. Exercise no longer feels like punishment, and I look forward to it. Positivity comes into the picture when I meet resistance and, even though I know I’ll be glad I did it later, I don’t want to do it right now. (Remember the idea of “get to” instead of “have to” from Benefit #14?)
As far as ending my lifelong habit of procrastination, that’s more of a mindset thing that requires active attention and present-moment awareness. The biggest motivator for me is remembering that I am worthy of doing things on time instead of delaying, rushing, missing deadlines, having to make excuses, and/or feeling bad about it later. I find it necessary to try to find the delicate balance between making sure what needs to get done gets done and not beating myself up when it doesn’t. As I said, I’m still working on this one, but vastly improved since I really began paying attention to it a few years ago.
Though addictions were never my issue, they are my husband’s. He’s been sober for 18 months after a long addiction to alcohol, and it took a pretty serious episode to jar him into making the decision to quit drinking. One of the things that has helped him – and me – tremendously is our daily meditation practice. We start every day by taking turns stating our affirmations and gratitudes, followed by 15 minutes of silent meditation. The changes didn’t happen overnight, but day by day we became accustomed to a new way of being together, and now we look forward to this special time we share every day. My husband needed to actively seek positivity in order to start feeling worthy of having a life he enjoys without substances. Last week, he averaged 12,000 steps a day – having shifted his focus to feeling good through movement instead of beer.
I’m not suggesting that breaking bad habits or forming good new ones is easy – or that it’s simple to beat a lifelong addiction. Neither is any of this post meant as medical advice. If you need to seek help from a health professional or counselor, please be sure to do that. I do know from first-hand experience, however, that the likelihood of you achieving your goal of changing your habits will be much greater with a positive outlook than a negative one – even neutral is better than negative.
If you want to employ more positivity in your life so you can start making changes for the better, sign up today for the 30-Day Positivity Challenge. This complimentary 30-day series of exercises gives participants a variety of assignments conducive to feeling better, overall. According to inspirational speaker Abraham Hicks, “Few realize that they can control the way they feel and positively affect the things that come into their life experience by deliberately directing their thoughts.” Abraham Hicks says we accomplish this by simply “reach[ing] for a better feeling thought.”
The decision is yours: Create new habits and give yourself a new outlook – or keep on doing what you’ve always done. Of course, that means you’ll keep on getting the results you’ve always gotten.
JOIN THE 30-DAY POSITIVITY CHALLENGE TODAY!
Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.