Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Habits: Breaking VS. Making

Shining the sink is the FlyLady habit of the month for January.  I've attempted to make this little FlyHabit infiltrate my daily routine before but it didn't take.  I've decided this is the perfect opportunity to try again.  Why?  Because, let's face it, this habit makes sense!  One thing I've learned that helps ward off depression is dragging your sorry ass out of bed to stare a shining sink in the face.  You know what it means??  There are NO fucking dishes to do right off the bat. A sink full of dirty dishes never helps you want to 'come to' in the morning or afternoon or evening, especially when depressed.  Why not look out for your tired, cranky, low mood morning self by setting her up for a better outlook? An ounce of prevention, they say. What it is supposed to symbolize in a FlyLady sense is your self love.  A big smiling face of an EMPTY sink.  That's like a made bed in the morning, it's the start of a not so terrible day.  It's a great symbol of the power of habits. Surely, if that sink could greet me every morning, empty and shining, it would help me accomplish more in a day and ward off the blues?  Surely?!?!  Surely.  If I could ONLY make it a habit, but habits can be almost as hard to make as they are to break.  Habits, good or bad, are also those things that will make you or break you.

It is said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. There isn't much validity to this statement; while true for some, it takes everyone's neural pathways a different length of time to form or forget or whatever they do. Also, longstanding habits have carved out deeper pathways than new developing ones. The data can't prove it really takes 21 days, but if you can maintain something that long it's probably safe to say you're on your way to success.

The things that we do repeatedly without effort in our routine are the things that will make us a success or a failure. Brushing your teeth, showering, taking care of yourself, these are all good habits. NOT doing those things is a bad habit, either way, they effect your quality of life. If I am chronically dehydrated because every day I am falling incredibly short of my intake needs plus drinking mostly coffee on top of that just to keep up the illusion that I have enough energy to complete my daily duties, then I am continually failing in other areas in my life and this is most definitely affecting my overall strength, stamina, and determination...crippling any REAL chances of success. A dehydrated brain can work at a rate comparable to one that has lost an entire night of sleep. One daily habit could be a big snowball in the avalanche of factors that cause us to continually fall short. It's incredible how everything effects everything else in some way. Can't think right; can't get right!

Habits are hard to break, no matter what they are. Your brain builds neural pathways when you pick up a habit and the longer you've had it or been indulging in the behavior, the stronger that pathway is. Maybe it's more like a highway. How do you shut down a highway with that much traffic on it? What happens to those vehicles using the highway once you shut it down? It's just closed, but that concrete road is still there. It's still a perfectly good road....and those vehicles are going to try like hell to get back on that highway, because it gets them where they want to go. You need to keep the road closed long enough that the vehicles turn around or get lost!! Odds are that roadway in your brain will always be there, which is why people can stop smoking for years and then be undone by sending one car down that nicotine highway. BAM! Open for traffic!

It's perhaps a little easier to start construction on a new highway, but still is quite the daunting task. I've been consumed with habits. I've been perpetually obsessed with perfecting my daily routine, because therein lays your success or failure. But I guess if succeeding was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's hard for all of us.

I need to shine the sink, so that it can be a daily reminder of my determination and love for myself. I need to make it a habit. I need to make drinking adequate water a habit, so that it comes naturally, because that is the first step in giving my body the sustenance and love that it desperately needs.

What good habits do you have? What are your bad ones?

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