Motivation Is Out, Mindfulness Is In

June 8, 2013

Get off autopilot if you want a chance at change. So much of what you do all day is habit – and much of it you don’t even realize you’re doing. I wrote yesterday about not being able to fix it if you don’t know it’s broken.  For so many of your habits, this is why you struggle to change them: you don’t know why you do it, you don’t know what’s wrong. You don’t realize that you always brush your teeth with your right hand. You don’t realize that it’s leaving your office that triggers the desire for booze. You don’t realize that it’s that one coworker that makes you want sugary treats. You don’t realize you ate the rest of the French fries off your kid’s plate until they’re gone. You’re on cruise control, with your unconscious mind at the wheel. You’ve all heard the stat: the unconscious mind processes 4 billion bits of info per second, while your conscious awareness takes in only 2000 bits per second. How can you compete with that?? Start with getting mindful. With so much of your day being rote routines and unconscious, don’t-even-think-about-it habits, you gotta learn to pay attention! Being mindful doesn’t mean you have to meditate or get your zen on up top a mountain, you can do it anywhere, any time. To be more mindful simply pick a time of day, such as putting on your make up in the morning or sitting down to lunch that cues you to pay attention. Or you can set an alarm on your phone to go off on the hour to remind you to practice mindfulness. All mindfulness is is becoming aware of this moment right now. To do so simply pay attention to one thing: the feeling of your ring on your finger or your feet in your shoes. Pick something and practice with it. Just be aware, that’s it. You don’t have to do anything with the moment, just notice it. Mindfulness sounds “nice”, but not something you really have time for, right? Well like I say, motivation is out and mindfulness is in. If you want to have better success with your body change or weight loss goals you’ve gotta get mindful. Mindful trumps motivation when it comes to making changes. Motivation lasts a few days or weeks and then pitters out, yet we rely on this over and over again to get to our goals. Instead, take up some strategies that help you really change and aren’t reliant upon how you’re feeling in the moment but rather bring you right into the moment – however good or bad it may be. Mindfulness does just that, gets you present to the here and now. It’s in the each moment that you can observe the little decisions you make that get you into trouble – aka your habits. The first step in changing a habit is observing the habit and looking for the reminder – the thought, feeling or activity that happens just before you take the action (do the habit). The reminder is the first part of the habit loop (more on the habit loop this week, sit tight). It’s this loop that you have to unravel to change your habits, so start from the top: the reminder. To get to the reminder, get mindful. Slow down and watch yourself.  Pick one habit, like drinking wine or not being able to pass up the bread basket at a restaurant, and see if you can figure out your reminder.  What is the feeling or time of day or type of situation that triggers you wanting to engage in that habit? For just today, get mindful. See all the little habits you have by just by watching them. Get a notebook and take a few notes. Up next, why on earth you’d do some of the stuff you do when you know it doesn’t serve you. We all do this, it’s human, but it seriously gets in your way.  See you again later this week for more on crackin’ your habits and finally being able to change.  Stay tuned 🙂

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