The Power of Habit

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 “Everyone goes through periods when we know we need to change.  Studies, however, tell us that simply knowing often isn’t enough.  Sometimes it takes something else — exposure to the right idea, hearing stories that resonate in our own lives, a certain kind of encouragement — that makes the first step within reach.”
~From The Power of Habit
by Charles Duhigg

 

 

 

 

 

This book was a fabulous insight into what it takes to change our habits.  I realized as I read that this is what I have helped people do for the past 11 years, whether it has been in the yoga room, on the weight room floor, shaking it up in Zumba, or in a one-on-one phone call or Skype session.

 

Duhigg says that exercise is keystone habit, meaning that it is one of those habits that if you can change it, other habits more easily change.

 

When your body chemistry supports your innate desire to feel good, to enjoy life and live it to its fullest, other habits change more easily.  I agree with the author, that it takes a certain exposure to catalyze this kind of change.  Something sparks or inspires us, or there is an emotional hit, like having a life changing event that motivates the change, or a grave realization of what will happen if you don’t.  Often it is a sinking feeling of being sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

 

Take a look around and notice what you want to leave behind with the season that is passing? 

What do you want to breakthrough into new growth?  

What are the signs, the signals, the stories that you are picking up?  

Where might there be encouragement? 

 

Duhigg also suggests, and I agree, that once you notice a habit that undermines your health and happiness it is your responsibility to change it. The good news is that this is possible.

 

Dissect that habit. Discover what drives it.

What is the life cue that triggers it?

What is the reward you seek by carrying it out.

 

Duhigg says that there are 3 parts to a habit:

1) The Life Cue – this is the thing that triggers the habit, the thing that sets you into the behavior, say you have a stressful day at work and come home disappointed that there are dishes in the sink {stress} This makes you want to feel less stressed {The Result}.

2) The Behavior – Eating Ice Cream {or whatever!} This gives you that temporary high, that “I deserve this” feeling – or whatever the false satiation is

3) The Outcome – This is the “result”, the thing you are seeking, so in this case “Less Stressed” By eating the ice cream, you have temporarily given yourself that feeling, it was cold and sweet, and you feel like you’ve done something ‘nice’ for yourself. You’ve attained {The Result – Less Stressed}
The theory is:

*You WILL have the Life Cues – i.e. you WILL get stressed (or whatever)

*You WILL want The Result – obviously 😉

**YOU CAN’T CHANGE THOSE**
SO YOU MUST CHANGE STEP #2 The Behavior

This DOES take some willpower, effort, or in yoga language “Tapas” – heat or friction. However this CAN be resourced, while it IS a challenging process, it doesn’t have to be a self-punishing process. While it may be difficult, even painful, it CAN be the kind that helps you GROW, EMPOWERING and FULFILLING.

 

Work to replace the “bad” habit with a good one that responds to the same life cue and gives you the same *feeling* behind the reward.

 

It’s all about the feelings, the habit is replaceable.  If you can get really honest about your feelings, you can discover what would truly satisfy them, and use that to replace the habit you want to release (like sitting on the couch when your body needs health nourishing movement!)

 

Can you use exercise as an experiment to see what else in your life can improve if you focus specifically on that?

Share your experience with changing a habit, and using movement to support your strength to stick to it in the comments!

 

 

 

Craving a community where movement is medicine,

where body practices are nourishment, not punishment?

Join the discussion in my private Facebook Group e-motion HERE!

 

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