Whether we like it or not, this time of year cues our minds to reflect and think about habits we want to change. If you’re reading this blog, odds are one of those habits are bringing mindfulness into your life more and allowing this to be the year where it sticks. Or maybe you’re also looking to change other habits that run alongside your values like being more self-compassion, living alongside your values, playing more or creating more mastery in life. All of these are basic elements that help uncover happiness.
Whatever the habit is that you want to make, here are a few practical tips to help make your changes stick.
- Know the practice – If you’re trying to integrate the ability to become more present in your daily life, choose what you want to practice. You may want to integrate more formal practice that would come in the form of a sitting meditation or mindful yoga. Or maybe you want to integrate more informal moments of just being present to whatever you are doing. Or maybe both. Or perhaps it’s exercise, better sleep, or being a more present friend. Having an awareness of what you want to do is the first step.
- Set up reminders – As much as we’d like to think, “I got it all up here, I can remember,” it’s important to understand that your brain works off cues. The way our environments are set up cue our brain to make certain decisions. There’s no fault in setting our environments up to support us in making the changes we want to make. For example, Mindfully Me, is an app that apparently will remind you to have more mindful moments. The Basics in Mindfulness Meditation 28 Day Program sends you an email daily for 28 days that cues you to integrate particular practices to make mindfulness stick. There are many other programs that do this for exercise, sleep and even to keep you on whatever task you like. Or go old school and just put up sticky notes in your area or as an optimal cue, get a real person to do the practice alongside to motivate one another.
- Support network – Many of us have the rule in our heads that “I can do it on my own.” The fact is, you are more likely to actually integrate a new practice if you have others alongside you who are trying to do the same thing. Finding a group of people in your area or on the web that you can connect with is very important to sustaining this practice. You can connect through the challenges, learn from others, and feel part of a community. The community also serves as reminder that this is important in your life. Check out Meetup.com to find a local group who is doing exactly what you’re interested in. If there isn’t a local community, an online group is a good runner up.
Try these three things out with whatever you are trying to change. Really build them into your routine and have compassion for yourself as making changes is often a difficult challenge that is entirely attainable.
If you do stray practice “forgive and invite,” forgive yourself for the time gone by, learn from your obstacles and invite yourself in that present moment to begin again.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.