With New Years Resolutions in place they do no good unless we figure out how to take action on them, integrate them into your daily life, and make them a habit. One of my favorite quotes from the great yoga guru Paramhansa Yogananda is “Your trials may be great, but the greatest enemy of yourself is yourself!” In order for us to create a new habit that feels recharging, we have to figure out how to get ourselves out of the way.
We commonly talk about developing a buddy system where someone, a class, or a group program holds you accountable. Or we use our will power for a small amount of time when beginning new activities which will automatically develop a habit longer term. Below are five creative tips which we do not commonly think about on how to develop a recharging habit.
1. Conquer unwillingness: Do it when you least feel like it. Paramhansa Yogananda explains this in a really good way: “Unwillingness is an energy; willingness is a friend at times when it’s particularly hard; when you’re tired, busy, sad, or defeated. At such times, think of yourself as a good, noble warrior who has been driven into a corner by contemptible opponents. Don’t let unwillingness take your loyalty to do good from you; do [it] with zeal, and unwillingness will flee the battlefield.” I like to make it into a game to find the times when I am least willing. I get excited to push myself right at that moment to conquer unwillingness.
2. Impulse control: It does not necessarily work to tell yourself to just stop a bad habit. If we are doing that to fulfill a need, it helps to think of a healthier alternative to replace that habit. Even better—get to the root of what that need is and resolve that on the level it actually exists whether it is an emotional issue, non-supportive mental thoughts, or lifestyle choices that can change. Sometimes it helps to get outside support to figure out and resolve the underlying issue.
3. Establish a routine: The consistency of doing the same thing at the same time of day creates a psychological expectancy in the body and mind gearing one up for their new habit. Even if you are not planning to perform this habit every day, if you spend at least one minute a day on the habit at the same time each day that will make it easier to maintain the habit on all days.
4. Do what you can do: When we look at the physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, making a change at any one of those layers will automatically shift the others. After changing my diet for a couple of weeks, I remember sitting in my Acupuncturist/MD’s office and talking about how I was responding to life differently. Depending on the type of emotion that changed for the better, he would declare that must mean my liver, or kidneys, or another organ was functioning better. With those emotional shifts, it is easier to pick up other great new habits too. Whereas a person who deals with their emotional issues will have less harmful food cravings. Or a person who starts an exercise routine, as research shows, will naturally crave a healthier diet.
Thus, if it is too hard to change one habit, but you can easily change another, focus on what you will be successful at and that will naturally shift your other habits. It also builds success magnetism, which makes it easier to approach the harder changes.
5. "A _[blank]____ meditation is better than none at all." That was what one of my first meditation instructors wrote on the board. On the days when we feel tired or unwilling, we run more of a risk of losing our new habit by skipping it, than by not doing it as well or as long. It is better to do something, even if not at your fullest potential, to keep the routine flowing.
There are often times when we try to incorporate new habits because the rule books say so. If the process of developing the new habit and the habit itself, does not feel inspiring, it can do more harm than good. Get creative and have fun!