THE HABIT: Week-1 (Gratitude)

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” Kristin Armstrong

THE HABIT focuses on how you start each day – your morning routine; because it’s so important. How you begin each day determines how you live each day. Each day is your life in miniature. As you take control of your mornings, you’ll start to take control of your life. You’ll become proactive instead of reactive. No longer will you be swept up in the whirlwind of daily commitments. It’s easy to forget what’s important when you don’t take a little time each morning to reflect. It’s easy to be busy. It’s a challenge to be productive.

With 2017 drawing to an end, it is a time of reflection and New Year’s Resolutions. Many of them focused on losing weight.  Unfortunately, the success rate for New Year’s Resolutions is an abysmal 8%, with 80% of people quitting by February.

The people that succeed have two things in common. First, they make a strong commitment to achieving their goal. Second, they start small. There is a lot of power in the accumulation of small, consistent efforts.

Habits and daily rituals create orderly lives. We are all creatures of habit. Even our pets have daily rituals and patterns of behavior. We form habits and routines because they feel good. They eliminate the need to constantly make deliberate decisions. When we perform habits, the actions are automated,  conserving our cognitive energy.

“Habit is something you can do without thinking, which is why most of us have so many of them.” Frank A. Clark

We aren’t just creatures of habit. We are the product of our habits. We are what we do, not what we know or what we aspire to be. The scariest thing about habits is that we don’t give them much thought once we form them, and when we try to break them, it can seem impossible. It’s as if our body has become the mind, taking us down the same familiar path.

“All of our life is but a mass of small habits – practical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual – that bear us irresistibly toward our destiny.” William James

I suggest that this year, instead of waiting for January 1st to arrive, you begin adopting a few small habits so that when the ball drops, you’ll already have built some momentum. I will present a series of small habits you can adopt each week to change your life. I will begin with the smallest daily rituals and slowly build up to routines that will require a little more effort.

We will start small, but before long, you will begin noticing drastic improvements in your life. Within a week, you’ll see an improvement in your mood. In a month, you’ll start noticing improvements in your energy and focus. After three months, you’ll begin to notice improvements in your appearance and self-confidence, and by the end of the year, you’ll have become a person that can achieve whatever it is you set your mind to do. I know this seems like a tall order, but if you understand the compounding effect of daily rituals, you’d realize what I am promising is entirely realistic. A single droplet will do nothing to a stone, but as Ovid observed, “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”

The problem with most people is that they try something for a little while, then give up when they don’t see immediate results or lose motivation – which is normal. Repetition doesn’t build motivation, it dilutes it. Persistence is the key. Our results come from our repeated efforts.

It’s like the flywheel effect Jim Collins describes in his book, Good to Great. Their transformation was the product of the accumulation of small incremental improvements. It was evolutionary, not revolutionary. The process was so gradual that no one inside the companies was aware it was taking place.

“Good to great comes about by a cumulative process—step by step, action by action, decision by decision, turn by turn of the flywheel—that adds up to sustained and spectacular results.” Jim Collins

The Week-1 challenge is to write down 15 things you are grateful for in your life and then read it each morning; bonus points if you re-read it before going to bed each night. If you are like me, the first time I was asked to do this I thought that I would have a hard time writing down 15 items, but when I began to think about everything in my life like my spouse, my children, my friends, our pets, our home, our car, my health, my job, the education I received, and all the opportunities available to me, I quickly wrote 20 things.

It is easy to focus on problems and forget everything good in our life. I suggest you find or purchase a notepad and a pen to record these items. Layout the pad and pen the night before, and write down everything you can think of, at least 15-items, the following day. That’s it.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

After you create your list, it will only take you a couple of minutes each morning to re-read your list. This one small habit can drastically improve your mood. When you begin each day with a spirit of gratitude, it will influence the rest of your day.

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe

Anger, frustration, and resentment are not compatible with gratitude. Those emotions cannot exist when you are grateful. When you begin to feel these negative emotions, remind yourself of what you are thankful for. After doing this for a week, you’ll start to see an improvement in your mood. It is so easy to do, but what is easy to do, is also easy not to do.

Make the small commitment to do this every day. Not Monday through Friday, not every once in a while. Every day, so it will become automatic.

Till next week, good luck!

Change your habits, change your life!

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