First, breathe. I’m not a Zen Master. I practice a kind of secular Buddhism in my personal life, but unless I find a specific Buddhist theme in what I’m covering, I’m not going to get preachy.
The Peace track is, quite simply, how we can identify and implement habits in our lives that removes the little stressors that can occupy, or derail our days, weeks…even months and years.
Any choice worth making comes with the responsibility that we follow through on that choice. You must do the work. Want to run a 5k? You can’t just sit on the couch and binge watch Breaking Bad, you have to get up off your ass and walk, then run. To do otherwise is crazy, and in some cases, utterly devastating.
Implementing daily habits to make your life easier means you have to be mindful. For example, let’s say you leave your bedroom a mess, and you say to yourself, “I need to make the habit of not leaving my bedroom a mess every day.” Then you set a reminder somewhere where you will SEE IT, reminding you to make your bed every morning before you leave it. You are mindful of your choice, you take a moment every day to follow through on that choice, and the longer you are successful at following through on that goal you set for yourself, the closer you are to making it a habit.
Habits are funny things, and sometimes they take longer to incorporate in to your daily routine. On average, it takes between 60 and 90 days for a new goal (we will call them skills), to become habits. The reason for this is because in that time it moves from one part of your brain—the prefrontal cortex, where most planning and focus occurs— to the brainstem and the basal ganglia where habits reside.
The trick is in the mindfulness. In mindfulness, and the transition of good skills to habits, is where we will find peace.
First, though, we must identify our bad habits. Those we should replace with new skills. Each person is different in those habits we need to break. Like leaving a messy desk to smoking a pack or more a day, they can vary widely.
Over the next week or so, identify those habits in your life that can be replaced with new skills. Write them down. If you like, you can leave them in the comments, and we can start working on all of our habits together going forward.
Next time, we’ll start with a simple skill everyone can incorporate every day to start nibbling away at the wall of habit we need to knock down: Email.