We humans are creatures of habit. There are things that we do the same way each and every time we do them because we like the familiar. We find comfort in these small things. It’s what our body knows and where our minds first go. They can be healthy and lift our spirits, improve our lives and longevity. Or they can be unhealthy and hold us back from the people we are meant to be and create stress and anxiety.
Following habits can bring peace and happiness, but it can also deter growth and progress. Life is ongoing and ever-changing. Sometimes our habits can prevent us from changing as life means for us to change.
Think of life as a river, constantly running in one direction, weaving around rocks and other obstacles that are in its path. The flow of the water is peaceful and unchanging. There is a sense of purpose; the river knows where its going and won’t let anything stand in its path (we are excluding man-made dams from this analogy). It’s going where it was meant to go. It is easy to see the power in this river.
Now let’s apply the analogy of the river to life. We are constantly traveling along the path of life, moving not necessarily to a particular destination, but closer to where we are meant to be. Do you go with the flow or do you fight the river? Do your habits help you move in the right direction or are there some that may be keeping you stuck in one of those obstacles along the river? Or even take you against the current?
It’s easy to get caught up in our every day lives and not even think about our habits and how they may be impacting our path. Often we don’t even think about them until something comes up that brings them to the forefront (stress, sickness, a fight with a loved one, marriage troubles, problems at work, etc.). Until we ram into one of those obstacles in the river of our lives. When this happens we either make a shift, change a habit and move forward, or we stubbornly stay put and have trouble moving on.
But do we need to wait until we hit an obstacle to reflect on our habits and how they are impacting our lives? Definitely not. If anything, it is healthy to reflect on our habits regularly and ask if they are helping us to become the people we are meant to be. Of course it isn’t easy and takes a little effort, but are the good things in life easy? Not most of the time.
I admit that I struggle with evaluating my habits as well. I get caught up in the every day details of life and lose the big picture. Though I don’t like to admit it, this happens for me a lot and when it happens, the result is stress. I get so stressed out with everything that I need to do to get to a certain place or achieve a certain goal that I exhaust myself, wonder where all my time went, and lose the love I had for my goal or even the journey in general.
One such source of stress these days for me is my To-Do list. Each week I have a certain things I have always done (vacuum, bills, write a blog post, wash the dog, cook food for my week). My To-Do list is a habit I have formed over years of being a single gal who lives alone. It is so habitual now that if I don’t get all of these things done in a weekend I am not happy. I feel unproductive, like I didn’t accomplish anything. Note to self, when my To-Do list influences my feelings of happiness or unhappiness, it is time to take a look and evaluate what’s going on…
The river of my life has definitely gone through some changes over the past year or so since starting this blog. Beautiful, wonderful changes. I am no longer a single gal who can spend an entire weekend on personal projects from my To-Do list (I know those weekends sound really exciting…). I now have a business of my own that has certain demands on my time as well. Old habits don’t fit into this new model of my life and the stress that has resulted from trying to fit the old habits into the new has been akin to trying to force two puzzle pieces together that clearly don’t match.
So time to make new habits. Evaluate that To-Do list and be realistic about what I can actually get done in the time that I have. I can feel my body trying to fight this change and thoughts bubble up in my brain that try to keep me on this habitual path (you will have a dirty apartment if you don’t vacuum, you have to write a blog post weekly or else your business won’t grow and be successful, you have to pay your bills every week, etc.). These are fears our minds concoct to resist change. They aren’t real. The world will not end if I don’t share my musings with you all every week.
Change leads to growth and is necessary to keep us flowing on the river that is our life. So how about we embrace the change, make new habits and go with the flow instead of exhausting ourselves trying to fight the inevitable? Life may be just a bit more fun. Shouldn’t we enjoy the ride anyway? We only get one of them.
Peace, love and healthy habits,