When I enter the ten-foot-long hallway to my office, I practice walking slowly and feeling my feet on the floor. I’m practicing a “Tiny Habit” to be more mindful instead of rushing around. It’s a tiny habit because it takes a few seconds not even a minute. (See tinyhabits.com/) As I first start creating this habit, I’m not practicing walking slowly everywhere, only this one place (at least to start).
I keep forgetting then remembering. Sometimes I remember after the first few steps or the last few steps, and sometimes I forget the whole distance. When I do remember to walk slowly all the way to the end of the hall, if I did even one intentional step, I cheer “WOOHOO!” and pump my arms up in the air while smiling. Surprisingly, when I celebrate even one slow intentional step and not just go through the motions, I feel happy and proud, rewarded for my tiny effort. Sometimes the joy lasts for several minutes. (The joyful mood comes from the “happy hormones” that are stimulated when we have a goal and achieve it or have positive thoughts.)
It probably sounds silly to cheer myself for walking slowly or doing anything simple like this but, amazingly, it works. If you want to make a change, it’s important to celebrate the small steps. Don’t forget to really celebrate every time you take a step in the right direction!
Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t do it perfectly! Kindness and compassionate directed to yourself are so important. When you are mean to yourself, you go into defensive or protection mode (just like when someone else is mean to you). Protection mode means there is no opportunity to really bring curiosity to what you did and to understand how you can do better.
Praise what you want and acknowledge progress no matter how small. Even when our “Inner Judge” seems to motivate us, we are acting in , not love. Not a great way to live. P.S. This also applies to the people in our lives. Attacking them means they will not be less likely to do what you want, just like how we react to self-judgment.
What you practice grows stronger! Practice what you want more of.
Dr. Joe Dispenza, in the book “You are the Placebo,” says that when you bring an intention (a commitment to a vision of a new future) and heightened emotions (the full positive experience of a new way of being) to this moment, then you trigger new brain chemicals which build new connections in your brain. And the more you mentally rehearse the intention and celebrate with strong emotions when the intention is being fulfilled, the more connections you build in your brain. This is how you rewire your brain for what you want. Instead of your old ways of thinking, feeling, speaking and acting, these new neural connections in your brain are creating new automatic ways of thinking, feeling, speaking and acting. What this means is if I want to walk slowly with more intention and awareness, then when I do it, celebrate! And if I forget, be kind to myself and even celebrate for having the self-awareness.
Okay, now it’s your turn….
Really, don’t just read this and not do it, or just skip reading this. Take 3 minutes and answer these 2 questions.
- What are you unintentionally practicing now that doesn’t serve you? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Playing games on your phone or scrolling through Facebook videos instead of working or being with people
- Trying to do things perfect, maybe even sacrificing sleep
- Judging yourself and others
- Worrying about the same things over and over.
- What could you practice instead of what you are doing that would serve you?
- Be on your phone? Put your phone down when you are with someone and focus on them.
- Trying to do things perfect – Do a good enough draft to get ideas. And don’t stay up too late. We think better with sleep!
- Judging – Be kind to yourself.
- Worrying – Listen to music you love and sing out loud or dance to it. It’s hard to worry when listening to music you love.
If you make any shifts in your thinking, feeling and acting – even tiny ones – be sure to CELEBRATE! When you are kind to yourself and acknowledge the effort, you will slowly but surely make changes in your thinking, feeling and acting!