Yesterday I went for my run in the late morning after getting everyone off to school. It was really hot and sticky out – by 9am around here at this time of year it’s just how it goes. I am really looking forward to the cooler temps rolling in; I think that will completely change how I feel about having to go later than sunrise. My miles yesterday were all to be easy effort – so I decided to listen to a podcast which usually keeps me pretty mellow. I found one interviewing James Clear, the author of the book Atomic Habits that I mentioned yesterday. The podcast was called “Ten Perfect Happier” with Dan Harris – I later learned that he wrote a book by the same name about his meditation practice and how it has helped him cope with anxiety and addictions and other aspects of his mental health. I enjoyed listening to this conversation about how to cultivate better habits (and eliminate bad ones!) in lasting ways in our lives. Ultimately to work towards being the best version of ourselves, improving who we are and our quality of life. The concept of each one of our actions being like a tiny vote we are casting for ourselves really resonated with me. It’s the idea that little things matter, that they are almost ALL that matter – we don’t necessarily feel the changes overnight but if we keep going, keep choosing well for ourselves, keep picking ourselves up when we falter, we will transform and we will get somewhere better. Not entirely unlike training for a marathon, right?
I have been thinking about the cultivation of habits a lot lately. There are some I have in my life that I really love, that feel like ME, and that I know I’ve worked hard to do regularly and make a part of who I am and how I DO life – running is one of them, my Pilates practice (which I do for a min of 5 minutes a day and I know helps me even when it’s only 5 minutes), drinking water … but there are areas that I feel I want to work to incorporate more good habits into my life (such as reducing social media consumption, putting my phone AWAY at night, and just being more mindful/intentional with that, reading more books, making time to create (draw, needlepoint), writing, and getting two strength workouts in each week).
Mr. Clear said to start by aiming for 2 MINUTES of doing something you want to make into a habit. It sounds so TEENY and pointless but he swears it makes a difference. He said you have to ESTABLISH a practice before you can work on IMPROVING at it. That makes sense to me. So it’s like rather than trying to eat the whole elephant you just take little bites. Rather than saying you’re going to run a marathon, you run just one more mile. And the next thing you know, all those daily tiny steps you’ve been taking have made you a marathoner. It’s who you are.
Habits are all about consistency, or they wouldn’t be habits at all – they would just be something you do every now and then. So start small. I do believe in that. It’s so much less overwhelming when you think about it that way, too. Here’s to a new day, and to doing the little things that make us feel better, be better.