Search on google today, what is a habit?
“a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up”
Hard to build and even harder to break, would you agree?
Habits and behaviour are something I’ve reallly focussed a lot of time reading, listening and practicing the last 18 months.
If you’re a reader/listener like me, here are my favourite 3 books and subject matter experts you may say.
James Clear- Atomic habits
Charles Duhigg- The power of habit
BJ Fogg- Tiny habits
If you don’t have the time, as always I find one of my roles as a coach is to research and practice the new knowledge first on me.
From there I sometimes practice on friends and family and then finally clients.
I believe more in learning by doing than just learning for the sake of learning.
We must use it or lose it as the old saying goes.
I always like to think about the brain as a hard drive on you’re computer (HARD DRIVE) where semi permanent storage (memories/skills/habits) happens.
Then there’s RAM (random access memory)
RAM is used at will when starting new tasks on the computer, it is used to start new programs (habits), learn and tag/identify new information (data) and store it away for easy use.
The more programs (thoughts/tasks) we take on, the thinner our bandwidth( thought capacity/motivation) is.
We live in the age of high speed broadband and 4G, 5G even being faster than some dial up connections.
But regardless of how fast it is, there more people that use it, it slows it down, I mean we are all sharing it right?
Same with our thoughts, habits, tasks, schedule, work, play, gym, kids, friends, parents and partner.
If we share our bandwidth, which we do! We slow down.
When we slow down, we get overwhelmed and frustrated, then 2 minutes later our hands are in the cookie jar ( Insert you’re weakness)
That’s our stress response kicking of a deep sub routine/program – this is how I deal with stress ( insert you’re response) , cream/beer/chocolate, cakes anyone?
We overpromise our bandwidth for others, for tasks, work commitments and no wonder we have no drive at the end of the day to drag our butts to the gym!
This is the blessing and curse of being human/Sapiens, the human animal.
If we understand what sets of a certain pattern of thinking, mood, reaction to an external and uncrontrarollable event, couldn’t we do something about it?
This is known as a prompt (BJ Fogg) or trigger (James Clear)and starts the automated response.
Going back to our RAM, we can over overwrite it, we can change the code!
My first rule is, shit happens, external events make up the majority of our life, I’d hesitate to guess 99.99999999%
Things happen to us and not because of us.
So as the stoic maxims (virtues) roughly fall into these categories and help us understand that external events are out of our control.
- Wisdom – foreseeing what has to be done.
- Justice – dispensing what has to be given.
- Courage – curbing fears.
- Temperance – checking desires.
When stuff happens to us, daily, hundreds if not thousands of times a day, how do we control it?
First we must accept it, someone just cut you up at a junction, roundabout or on the motorway?
A- Get angry
B- You think to yourself, I have no idea what’s going on the head of that person, maybe his wife just left him. Maybe she just lost her job, mother got sick and is rushing there to help or the thousands of other shit that happens to us.
When stuff happens, we can get feel the anger, but it’s wholly our decision on what to do next.
We can’t control the trigger, but we can feel our emotion and control our response.
We get to choose.
It first starts with awareness.
Feel the emotion, and decide once you are aware what comes next.
That’s where breaking the cycle comes in.
The military train there soldiers in fitness and mindset and acclimatisation for conflict, I mean conflict is bound to happen right?
Do you want the expect soldiers to panic and do something stupid?
No, not because they are robots and don’t feel emotions, they are aware of the trigger, feel the emotion, but are conditioned and know what to do next.
They don’t react.
Like the now famous brand- Keep Calm and….
The next time today when something happens to you, sit back, feel that emotion, don’t react and think, what’s next.
Normally reach for the cookie jar? Walk round the garden and come back.
Normally reach for the beers, do 5 Pushups and have a brew instead.
Reaching for the cream cakes, grab a protein bar instead.
We live in a constant of trigger-habit-reward
We mostly can’t change the trigger, the habit can be overwritten and the reward can can changed.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about changing the triggers by choice to start new habits!
I look to bring awareness to these blogs, points and themes, not answers.
Just more questions, just more self awareness
But when it all goes wrong and we do react badly, end up in a mood, stressed and eating and drinking crap, and it will!
Simply see it for what it is, experience, and that’s the only way learn is by doing!