Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Sharon Lipinski, author of the new 365 Ways to Live Generously.
You don’t need to think about taking care of your physical health. You don’t need to think about having a mindfulness practice and nurturing your spirituality. You don’t need to think about spending quality time with your loved ones.
You may need to think about HOW to do those things, but you don’t actually need to think about whether or not you should do them.
The problem with having to think about doing them is that it requires that you make a decision, and making a decision requires you to call on your willpower. Willpower is a valuable but scarce resource that isn’t always there for you when you need it. Willpower is a form of mental energy and you use it to control thoughts, emotions, impulses, and performance. You’re using it constantly all day long for every little decision, every time you restrain a biting comment, or force yourself to answer that difficult email. You get one tank of willpower for everything, and if the tank is empty due to overuse, physical stress, or emotional stress, then it can’t help you do the right thing.
But you don’t forget to brush your teeth, and you don’t talk yourself out of your morning cup of coffee. Those things happen automatically because they’re habits. A habit is a routine of behavior that occurs regularly and tends to occur unconsciously. Habits bypass your willpower tank because they don’t require you to make a decision. Instead, neural wiring inside your brain is triggered that causes you to automatically launch into specific behaviors at specific times in specific places. It’s habit that causes you to reach for a light switch when you walk into a bathroom, order the same drink from the same coffee shop, and have the same old fight with your significant other.
By all means, be mindful about how you take care of your health, spirituality, and relationships. By all means, be mindful while engaging in these behaviors. But be mindless when it comes to doing them. There is no decision to be made here. Taking care of your health, your spirituality, and your relationships are fundamental to your well-being, and when these are habits, you can be happier, healthier, and more productive without thinking about it.
The reality of your daily life is the result of the habitual actions you take and decisions you make every day. Intentionally make a habit of the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that will serve your greatest good and help you live your best life
Our thanks to Sharon for her guest post! For more from Sharon Lipinski, read her article, “The 7 Habits You Must Adopt in 2017.”