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Habits – A Curse or a Blessing

MP900438523Habits can keep us mired in a rut or they can take us to lofty heights of achievement.

Habits are great because we don’t have to think about what we are doing. It is like being on auto pilot.

We are creatures of habit.  Some habits keep us from using our time efficiently.  Others are time wasters.

Habits and behaviors are continued because we get a payoff or reward of some kind that motivates us.

We watch TV or play video games as a reward for working hard all day.  We may stop and have a drink with buddies.  But along with a reward, there is also a cost.

We do things in the moment because they are gratifying; but they may have negative long term consequences.

When we regulate our behaviors, we are able to harness our energy more productively, in a way we plan and choose.

Behaviors made through careful thought allows you to be in the driver’s seat.  With thoughtful predetermined goals and plans, you profit through achievement.  You will feel excited and jubilant when you use your talents and abilities to accomplish goals. The short term cost of not following instant gratification or indulgence will result in the long term benefit of satisfaction and gratification.

Self Regulation

CB063487Self-regulation requires self-discipline.  The word discipline often triggers a negative response based on our childhood interpretation of discipline.

Instead, see it as a positive reward for your actions. Then you will be able to put in place habits and behaviors that benefit you in the long term, not just the short term.

Self regulation doesn’t mean we lead a regimented life with no pleasure or down times.

In fact, when you regulate your time based on time management you will find you have more time than you did before.  You are able to schedule in fun and pleasant times as well as the accomplishment of tasks and chores.

Giving into that momentary pleasure can quickly put in place an addictive habit you may not want.  If you respond to the whims of the moment, you will eventually feel less and less in control of your lives. Depression is often a result of a downward spiral of such habits.


Taking Charge

To replace a habit, you must first be aware of what you are currently doing, why you are doing it, and why you want to change it.  What are the costs and benefits?


To Replace a Habit

First – Why do I have this habit?

Second – What is the short term benefit?

Third – What is the long term cost?

Research on how our brain works has given us new insights into why we do the things we do and continue to do them even when they are not beneficial.  To change a downward spiral of impairing habits and routines requires first recognition and then making a conscious decision along with action.  When you do both, recognize and make a conscious decision and then add a step in that new direction, you are changing the dynamics of the neurons and neurotransmitters in your brain.

According to Dr.Alex Korb, author of “The Upward Spiral – Using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time,” it takes both decision and action to change a downward spiral to an upward one.  That tiny step in a new direction is enough to begin the upward process versus downward.

Next week we’ll go through a time logging process to discover your wants and needs.

Marlene Anderson

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