Forming New Good Habits -by Fiona Robyn at All About Magazines

Forming New Good Habits

by on 20/02/12 at 6:00 am

Forming New Good Habits

By Fiona Robyn from Malvern

The traditional moment for making New Year???s Resolutions has come and gone. Did you make any? Did you keep them? Have you been meaning to change your diet, or develop a daily yoga practice, or learn Japanese?

The spiritual teacher Georges Gurdjieff said that ???Every grown-up man consists wholly of habits, although he is often unaware of it and even denies having any habits at all???. Our every-day habits, from brushing our teeth to the way we deal with our anger, can determine our health, our wealth and our happiness.

Unfortunately, most of us find it extremely difficult to change these ingrained patterns of behaviour. We begin with the best of intentions, and slip rapidly back into the familiarity of what we know.

It might be difficult, but it is possible to change. If you???d like to replace some of your bad habits with more virtuous ones, then here are my tips to give you a better chance of success.

1. Choose your new habit carefully. Why do you want to make a change? What is motivating you? Write these reasons down so you can refer to them if you???re tempted to give up.

2. Be realistic. Start small. It???s better to meditate for five minutes a day than for half an hour once a week. You can always increase your commitment when your new habit is established.

3. Make a plan. Decide exactly what you???re going to do differently. Keep it simple. Decide how long you???ll try out this new habit for and identify the ???danger areas???, when you might fall off the wagon.

4. Make a commitment. Once you???re happy with your plan, decide to make a formal commitment to it. Write it down and put it up on the fridge. Tell your friends and family.

5. Seek support. Let your friends and family know what you???re doing. Ask an encouraging friend if you can arrange a ???check in??? every week or month when you can discuss your progress.

6. Deal with set-backs. Before you even start, expect to have bad days when you don???t manage to carry out your new habit. When this happens, try to let it go as soon as you can.

7. Experiment. You need to find something that works well for you rather than doing it the way other people think you should. This might mean changing your original plan.

8. Reward yourself for your successes. Plan to give yourself a reward (a meal out or a sum of money) if you make it to thirty days. Try to be patient with yourself when things go wrong.

We can see developing new good habits as improving the soil in our garden. Sometimes it takes many years of hard work (digging, adding compost) before we really start reaping the rewards. It might seem like nothing ever blooms, but then one year your roses look more beautiful than they???ve ever looked before, and you get a bumper crop of juicy strawberries.

I hope you can appreciate the journey towards your new habits. If we???re in the right frame of mind, even the hard physical labour of digging the garden can be satisfying. Try to find new good habits that you can learn to enjoy. As Doug Henning says, ???The hard must become habit. The habit must become easy. The easy must become beautiful.???

Fiona Robyn is a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in North Malvern: She runs ???Listening to the Other??? courses based on Buddhist psychology with her husband Kaspa, and mindful writing courses online ??? see for more information.

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