We all have things we want to change about ourselves. And usually we call these things “bad habits”. We make ourselves wrong for doing them. I am no exception.
I’ve decided to try a new approach to changing my “bad” habits. It goes something like this:
What if these “bad habits” were simply “habits”? Neither bad nor good – “just” habits. Maybe there would no longer be such an emotional charge around them. Maybe we could simply observe them and decide whether or not they serve us or not. And then, having observed a behavior, and decided it does not serve us, we could simply decide to change it into one that DOES serve us.
Sounds easy, right? And the good news is, it is possible. But it takes commitment. How much commitment? Well, according to studies, it takes 66 days to change a habit (I know, I know – they USED to say it only takes 21 days!) Oh well – I think I can do 2 months.
So, here is MY commitment to myself and to anyone reading this:
For the next 2 months, whenever my partner does something that annoys me (we have been together for 30 years, so there are just a few things that annoy me - haha!), instead of focusing on what annoys me, I will focus on a trait in her that I adore. Because I know I love her and if that annoying little thing she does weren’t in my life, that would mean that SHE wouldn’t be in my life! And it is not lost on me here, that I am not asking HER to change HER annoying habit. I can’t change her. I can only change MYSELF.
So, for the next 60 days, instead of changing a “bad” habit, I will be cultivating a new habit of focusing on what I love about my partner.
That sounds a LOT more pleasant than making myself wrong for being annoyed with my partner!
My challenge to YOU is, what new habit are YOU going to cultivate?
I have done a lot of waitressing in my life. And the amazing thing is, I woke up this morning, having had a classic “waitressing nightmare” which I haven’t had for years! I am sure you can relate this to whatever your job is. I am talking about those nightmares where nothing goes right. In my case, the kitchen was about ¼ mile away. I couldn’t get there. Everybody needed something. I was running. I was frantic. I was NOT centered and I woke up thinking, “I cannot deal with this stress !”
Then on my walk today, I remembered one of the best bosses I ever had, who gave me a great piece of advice. He said, “Whenever you are walking through the dining room, be sure to look around and make eye contact with everyone as you go by. You might save yourself a few trips that way.”
I remember it really stopped me in my tracks. I thought, “I am so fixated on getting to the kitchen, to pick up whatever it is that I ordered, that I pay absolutely no attention to what’s around me.” And so often, when I came back with my order, so many people needed something and I indeed would have saved myself another trip or two.
It occurs to me now that this is an analogy to our lives. It’s great to have goals, follow our dreams, our values and our purpose.
But I think sometimes we get too rigid. We get so fixated on the end result, that we forget to look around us, as we’re on our journey towards that goal. And in doing so, I think we may miss many opportunities.
There might be people trying to get our attention, saying “Hey! Hey! I don’t need anything but I think I have something YOU might need.” But we are so fixated on that goal that we either brush them off – “No, I’m OK. I’ve got it handled.” – or we don’t see them at all! I think the latter is probably most often the case.
So I leave you with this thought: As you make your way to the kitchen, stop and look around, and make eye contact with everyone around you.
And see – what miracles – happen.
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