Oct 252018

Most people don’t appreciate that we code our own brain’s “operating system” by choice. A more common way to articulate this is that we are a product of our habits, and most of us find that habits are difficult to change.

But they are well worth considering, designing, and changing. Aristotle observed quite accurately that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

I have found a trick that really works to build new (good) habits. If you associate a trigger with doing a new habit, the next time you encounter the trigger, you will be reminded of the habit. For example, lets say that you decide to complete a thorough stretch routine every morning when getting up. Associate brushing your teeth with the stretching that you hope to make a new good habit. Given that you are (hopefully) already in the habit of brushing your teeth first thing in the morning, you will quickly and more easily adopt the stretching, because brushing will connect the dots for you.  Put a note on your Sonicare if necessary.

There a plenty of triggers available in your life already. Chaining one thing to another makes building new habits much easier.

In the bigger picture, we become a product of our own habits (good or bad), and our habits become our own chosen operating system. Let’s say that you struggle with stress and the road rage of traffic. Why not proactively “code” a productive, positive habit with getting stuck in unexpected traffic jams instead of beating your hands on the steering wheel?  Why not have your favorite play list queued up for the next inevitable traffic jam, or perhaps an audio book, or even decide to pray if you are religiously inclined. Traffic jams will continue to happen, but you can use the negative inevitable trigger to react positively, training your OS to deflect the stress instead of blowing a gasket.

Habits are incredibly powerful. Build new ones while getting rid of bad ones and you will be on the road to excellence.

I.M. OptimismMan

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