It’s time to talk a bit about the science behind habit creation.
A deeper understanding of how habits work will help as you continue to develop habits throughout your life.
Charles Duhigg wrote a brilliant book compiling his research on the subject called The Power Of Habit.
He clarifies and greatly simplifies the understanding of how habits work, as well as the easiest way to change them.
Here’s a visual of the three components he asserts are present with ALL habits:
Every habit — whether it’s a belief, a thought you think, or a physical routine — contains these 3 elements: Cue, routine, and reward.
Whenever you think a habitual thought, it’s because something has given you a cue or a ‘signal’ to think that type of thought.
Then you think the thought, that is the routine, and then you get some type of personal reward or perceived benefit out of it.
For example, imagine you stub your toe on a chair when you walk past your table one morning in your rush to grab your shoes quickly and not be late for an appointment…
…And perhaps you automatically think, “Ow! This is going to be a bad day, I can already tell!”
Then you slide on your shoes, grab your keys, and rush out the door, slamming it behind you…
…brooding about what excuse you can come up with for being late while underneath that brooding, likely without your awareness, you’re saying to yourself…
“Why am I so clumsy when I’m rushed? I hate being late, why can’t my kids just get ready when I tell them to? It’s so irritating!”
What was the routine in this scenario?
You immediately declared the day as ‘bad’ which triggered a cascade of other negative self-defeating thoughts.
Routines are easy to see if you look. Just quickly scan through the previous few day’s memories for any behavior you tend to repeat frequently — those are your routines.
So what was the cue in the scenario?
You stubbed your toe?
Or maybe it was the way your children didn’t behave as you would like?
And what was the reward in this scenario?
That one can be tricky to pinpoint.
In this case, the reward seems to be some satisfactory emotion you get out of slamming the door, and fuming and venting to yourself.
Perhaps expressing your anger or frustration is a way to ‘get even’ with your family for ‘making your life so hard.’
Interestingly, negative thoughts can be their own reward!
Every thought we think, negative or positive, invites other similar thoughts.
So any negative thought we entertain immediately starts inviting over all its relatives and soon we’re host of a full-fledged internal pity party with barely a moment’s notice!
This pity party is the perfect venue for consoling ourselves as a poor victim of life.
Being consoled as a victim is highly gratifying to that ego part of us that doesn’t want to accept responsibility for our life.
Hosting our own pity party is a very common reward with negative thinking
It may be strange to think of that as a reward, but…
…We get some kind of reward out of everything we do or think habitually…otherwise we wouldn’t do it!
And that is a brief overview of how all habits work.
I share that so you can start to pay attention to the cues, routines, and rewards we are purposely establishing together right now.
Every day we have set up a cue, or reminder: Alarms on the phone, getting out of bed, brushing teeth, or heading to lunch or dinner, etc.
That cue triggers our routine: At least three different times we visualize and feel ourselves living our affirmations.
And our reward? In this case there are multiple:
1 – We feel better!
2 – We feel happier because we are thinking about what we want.
3 – We feel a sense of accomplishment because we know we are doing something that is greatly benefiting us.
The more rewards to a routine the merrier!
When you experience multiple positive rewards from a routine, it is a lot more likely to be a routine that you will stick with.
So make sure you are experiencing the reward right in the moment.
Don’t just repeat the affirmation with the plan and hope of getting the reward of an amazing, fulfilled life, off in some future non-existent day once you have repeated that positive thing enough times.
Habits don’t become sticky habits with contrived futuristic rewards.
Habits have immediate rewards. So make sure that each time you visualize your affirmations you are experiencing the reward…so the habit sticks.
Make that your goal! Sit with it and visualize your 3 to 5 affirmations until you literally start feeling good while you think about them.
If you struggle to feel good when visualizing your affirmations one day, don’t worry. Maybe your mind is too preoccupied or worried about something.
That should be a cue to you for a different habit you can create: Stop and write honestly whatever is on your mind.
That’s what I do habitually whenever I can’t seem to feel good by simply re-directing my thoughts.
But I digress…we will get more into the habit of writing in the training system for the pillar of ‘Create’.
For now, I’ll leave you today with the rest of my personal affirmations to consider…
The ‘Core Beliefs’ Group:
1 – Whatever I can conceive and believe, I can achieve.
2 – Everything is conspiring for my benefit.
3 – All things work together for good to them that love God.
4 – There is no bad day.
The ’12 Pillars of a Truly Amazing Life’ Group:
1 – I Believe this is a Truly Amazing Life.
2 – I Celebrate Life, play daily, and bring others joy.
3 – I Enjoy every moment.
4 – I Smile because it feels good.
5 – I Think faithfully.
6 – I Create art in all I do.
7 – I Succeed every moment of the day.
8 – I Remember who I am.
9 – I Empower other people.
10 – I Give myself away freely.
11 – I Grow every day.
12 – I Love unconditionally.
Make today amazing!