Habits


“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us”

In the past men lived for the pursuit of religious perfection were what some .  In one sense they worked harder and with more commitment than men in today’s world.  However they had it easier because they had a goal given to them by their mentors and society with fewer distractions on their path.  The first step for self-development is identifying the Why, your purpose.  The next, the How. Developing quality habits play a significant role in getting you to what you want in your life..

Habits are the little things we do unconsciously everyday that are so ingrained in our minds that it takes virtually no effort to perform them. “Each day our brain has on average 90,000 thoughts in which 95%  are the exact ones that you had the day before.” (R. Sharma)  It is estimated that out of every 11,000 signals we receive from our senses, our brain only consciously processes 40 of them!  This means that out of all the sense that our brains receive to make decisions and to take action- we really do not have that a conscious say in it.  What we do is repeat little habits day in and day out.

What is the Significance of This?

1) You may look at these statistics and say ‘Wow, we do not have much control over our decisions. I might as well not even try changing thousands of thoughts that I have everyday and just let things be’

2) You may see it as an opportunity ‘Wow, since so many thoughts and actions everyday are unconscious- what would happen if I took time everyday to change my habits and my thoughts to better align with the person and life I envision myself having?’

At Mantra we want you to choose the ladder, and here’s why

Willpower 

Willpower is a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it, if you exercise your ability to take action, it grows. Athletics have extraordinary willpower, that is why they can work out for hours a day and still be lively, unlike a person who sits on the couch and a walk to the bathroom causes their breathing to increase.

 “Self-control is self-mastery. It is kingship over all life. At the center of your being sits yourself. Your seat ought to be a throne. If you are not in control, if there are any forces in your nature that are unruly, that do not acknowledge your sway, you are not the king you should be. Part of your kingdom is in insurrection. The strength of your life is divided. The strong man is he whose whole being is subject to him.” -James Russell Miller, The Beauty of Self-Control, 1911

Willpower is the ability to overcome laziness and procrastination. It is the ability to control or reject unnecessary or harmful impulses. It is the ability to arrive at a decision and follow it with perseverance until its successful accomplishment. It is the inner power that overcomes the desire to indulge in unnecessary and useless habits, and the inner strength that overcomes inner emotional and mental resistance for taking action.

 There is a misconception in the public regarding this inner strength. It is erroneously thought to be something strenuous and difficult, that one has to exert and tense the body and mind when expressing it because everyone thinks it is put all your effort in at one time, opposed to slowly taking chunks out of the bigger piece. This is one of the reasons why people avoid using it, though they are conscious of its benefits. They acknowledge the fact that the employment of will power in their life and affairs will greatly help them, but that they need to strengthen it (Take Action), yet they do nothing about it and keeping pondering action.

 Willpower is used by successful individuals to take action in their lives.  They most successful individuals utilize habits to progress towards their goal. They get in the habit of reading a newspaper or taking 25 free throws ever night before bed. This habits although may take 15 minutes get them closer to their goal and use less will power than someone who spends 1 day a week reading 400 pages or spends one day a week shooting 250 free throws. The people that take small actionable steps everyday last longer than those who drain themselves in one last second cram session.


What will be engrained in your head? What will you be thinking tomorrow, next week, next year?

Charles Duhigg, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, has written a great book entitled, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” Duhigg has read hundreds of scientific papers and interviewed many of the scientists who wrote them, and relays interesting findings on habit formation and change from the fields of social psychology, clinical psychology and neuroscience.  He highlights that tasks that seem impossibly complex at first, like learning how to play the guitar, or speaking a foreign language-  these tasks seem complicated at first, but soon become second nature after we perform them many times over.

The Habit Loop

A habit loop is a three step process in which there is first an environmental cue, that automatically leads to a behavioral routine (the habit)- then after results in a reward, or positive feeling resulting in performing the habit.  The reward is the ‘reason’ for performing the habit in the first place.  Its that simple.  A trigger, an action, and a reward.

Using the Habit Loop

“Little progress each and everyday is better than a large quantity of progress that fails.”

We control our habits by changing specific ones, one at a time.  If you try and change several at one time or making such a drastic change in a habit (Meditating for 30 minutes a day instead of starting at 5 minutes a day), you will fail because you drain your willpower and give up due to the large change. We take you Step by step into developing quality habits.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

If a person does the same process “for 21 days straight, in the same way” then that process will become a habit at the end of 21 days.

We will be using Charles Duhigg’s habit loop chart (PIC)for identifying, changing and creating habits for 21 days.  We will identify the trigger, the routine and the reward that you are desiring as a result of the bad habit.  Once you have identified these steps then we are ready to change your habit.

The point of a habit is that it doesn’t require thought. Variety may be the spice of life, but it doesn’t create habits. Make sure your habit is as consistent as possible and is repeated every day for 21 days. This will ensure a new habit is drilled in, instead of multiple habits loosely conditioned.

“Great men are those who see that thoughts rule the world”; Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tips for the Process

Find Your Meaning

At Mantra the core of what we do comes from your willpower.  While trying to develop good habits with lasting change, you need to ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’ Why is the importance to me?”

While changing my own habits, I asked myself what is the point of meditating?  Sitting in my room thinking about nothing seems so petty and insignificant.  I could be doing other things such as working out, reading or enjoying my life.  What must be done, is to look in the long term.  Meditation is the development and eventual control of your emotions, I have been known to have irrational emotions that cause fights, and I needed to control this so I could have a better life.  I am doing this to take control over my emotions- find why you are making these small changes in your life and you will have an easier time committing to your strategy.

When a change is made, it is natural to feel uncomfortable.  When your everyday pattern of thought and behavior is thrown off by waking up earlier, going for a walk or taking time to read the sensations of ‘pain and pleasure’ will begin.  You will hurt, because change is hard, yet you will feel pleasure because you are bettering yourself.  You must focus on the long term and remember that in 21 days “this uncomfortable pattern of pain and pleasure will end” and what will replace it will be a habit that will impact your life for the better.  It will give you more energy, more productivity and will become a part of you.

The Importance of Routine

We have learned that the less you have to think about doing something, the more likely you’ll actually do it. That’s the power of habits and routines.  In order to make your habits really stick, developing routines will help you cement them in your day by creating structure.  When trying to change my habit of sporadic working out, I had to build working out in my daily routine.  Each morning, instead of working out one morning, taking a day off, then doing what I felt like, I came up with a structured plan in the morning.  Wake up, drink a coffee-small breakfast, and head straight to the gym.  Every single morning until it became a habit. You can also start out small.

“Imagine a string with a series of beads on it. The beads represent your goals, relationships, and priorities. Tip the string to the left, to the right, and the beads easily slide off and onto the floor. But tie a knot on each end of the string, and the beads stay put. Those knots are your morning and evening routines. They keep the priorities of your life from falling apart and thus help you progress and become a better man.  Create routines to cement your habits, your priorities and your life into your day.

Imagine driving a sports car, in a month long race.  Is the winner the one who pushed it to the limit?  Is the winner the one who doesn’t look at a map, plan his route, and execute accordingly?  A routine will help put the long term goals in our life into perspective.  It will help fuel you up in the morning, drive fast in the afternoon, and then cool down in the evening.  Let routine be the vehicle that guides you through life and moves you forward.

How to Develop a Routine

Take a look at your life, and write down what the things are that you want to achieve.  What is your job like?  Do you work 9-5?  Do you run a business? Do you work remotely?

What are the important things in the day that you must get done?  Do you workout?  Write in a journal?  Have a list of emails to reply to?  Do you want any of these things?

Make your routine specific and clear.  Start with the exact time that you will get up, followed by what you will do after, brushing your teeth. (create actionable unthinkable list).  You cannot say things like ‘I will get up around 8’, you need to be detailed with your plans. Don’t make a drastic change. If you wake up at 8 am and you want to start getting up at 5am. Don’t start getting up at 5am the next day, get up at 7:30 for a week then 7 the next, etc.

What are some good Routines

As you read the biographies of famous men, take note of their morning and evening routines, and if you like something they did, incorporate their behaviors into your own routines. Teddy Roosevelt read a book every morning. One place you can find the routines of some famous men–particularly famous artists and writers–is the blog.  Who are some of your idols?  What do they do in the morning/evening?

At Mantra we will be focusing hard on making your habits stick, forever.  If habits are unconscious and pain free, then once you have developed the habit of waking up early, the habit of reading for 30 minutes a day, the habit of working on your passion for a hour everyday, it is hard to comprehend how much your life will be positively affected.  Lets decide who we want to be today and let Mantra make it happen.

“Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”

Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

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