Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Habits


“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.”

Jim Ryun

“The hard must become habit.  The habit must become easy.  The easy must become beautiful.”

Doug Henning


“Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”

Confucius




I am trying to create new habits.  It’s that simple.  That’s why I’m up at 5:00 and writing by 5:30.  I’m trying a new time management system, based on Michael Masterson’s work in The Pledge.  I’ve only been doing this for three days and I’ve already struggled and been inconsistent, but I’m still trying.  I feel that same sense of determination I have felt when writing my blogs.  I don’t feel like doing this, but when that feeling arises, I just keep working.
I’ve said before that determination is the emotionless emotion.  At this moment as I’m writing, I don’t feel joy or anger.  I don’t feel happy or sad.  I’ve just made the decision to write.  I will admit to a small sense of satisfaction.  I guess I’m also feeling
·      Powerful
·      Happy
·      In control of my life
·      Excited
·      Optimistic

These feelings came though after I started writing, not before.  I’m increasingly aware that I have the ability to control my thoughts and therefore my actions.  I’m also increasingly aware of how often, how incredibly and insanely often, I have not controlled my thoughts.  As a result I have spent far too much of my thought life focused on the following:
·      Complaints
·      Troubles that haven’t happened (or never happened)
·      Grudges
·      Discomfort
·      Fear
·      Anger

I have, at every moment, every single moment, the sacred ability to choose my thought life.  I don’t necessarily need to be constantly giddy with excitement, but neither am I required to use my thoughts or my spoken words in a negative fashion.  I don’t have to burden others or myself with unnecessary pain.
I use the word “unnecessary” because like Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now, the vast majority of our pain is unnecessary.  Life will bring enough pain without me adding to it.  When I say that life will bring pain, I am not being cynical or pessimistic, I am simply stating a fact.  Life is difficult at times.  But as M. Scott Peck says in The Road Less Traveled, when I know it is difficult, it is suddenly not as difficult.
I think difficulties can be classified in three ways:
First, there are the difficulties that come because of my own attitudes and thoughts, such as the list mentioned above.  We have a choice here.  I’m not saying that it’s always easy.  If I am in the throes of depression or fear, I may need to fight hard to get out.  I may need to call a friend and talk.  While it does not always seem like it, it is ultimately our choice.  Even if it is physiological, we have the choice to get help.
Then there are spiritual difficulties.  My experience has shown me consistently and constantly that there is a spiritual world.  It is often more powerful than the physical world.  I have been oppressed by spiritual elements and I have been rescued just as many times, if not more.  I want to be careful here to say that not every problem or unhappy thought is a spiritual attack, but all my problems can be addressed with prayer, faith and gratitude.  Ultimately, the source of the problem is not as crucial as my response to the problem.  I will say that prayer and asking for prayer has lifted me from deep depression and fears many, many times and this has always been a gateway to joy.
There are those difficulties that come when something completely unexpected occurs.  The difficulty is compounded because I wasn’t prepared for it.  Still, I should remind myself that something unpleasant was likely to occur and then I can realign my thinking or ask for help, or both.
Here’s what it ultimately comes down to:  I can choose how I want to think. 
The other day I was playing outside with my daughters.  It was hot and as I was complaining as I tend to do when I am uncomfortable.  “Whining” would be a better word.  Then I realized as another wave of heat hit me, “I feel this heat, but I also feel a slight breeze afterwards.”  So I made the decision that each time I felt the heat, in each second, in each moment I would make the choice to whine or not whine.  We kept playing. 
In each second and in each moment, I can make the choice to create new habits of positive thought and actions.  When a negative thought comes, I can treat it like a wave of heat and make a choice.    I am used to my old habits, but I can create new ones.  Because these habits are more positive in nature, they will take more self-discipline and focus than negative habits. 
Negative habits are acquired far more easily and quickly because they are often choices made by lack of presence.  But I can discipline myself to think differently and to therefore live differently from the way I used to think and live and differently from the way so many others think and live, which is really a form of slavery.  But each of us has our own key to freedom.
We can choose freedom immediately, in each second and in each moment.  We can create new habits.  We can Get Started and Keep Going…and we can do it now.