MINDFULNESS - THE NEW "GATEWAY" HABIT

A few days ago, I was driving home from leading a half-day, "Maximizing Performance" workshop in NYC. As I replayed the session in my head, I kept coming back to the concept of mindfulness.

This past year, I did a lot of reading on topics including self-efficacy, resilience, mindset, decision making, managing stress, and self-regulation. When I reflect on the research, it is clear to me that any changes we try to make towards self-improvement, require awareness.

The only way I know to increase awareness is through mindfulness.

GATEWAY DRUGS TO GATEWAY HABITS

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Which got me thinking about pot. (No, I’ve never smoked it.)

BUT - a couple of years ago I was speaking to my daughter about “weed,” as my kids like to call it. At the time (she was 13) she said, “Mom, I would never smoke weed because it’s a gateway drug.”

I’ve decided I’m not going to ask her about it again….ever.

Anyhow, I think mindfulness is a “gateway" habit. If pot opens the door to other drugs, mindfulness opens the door to creating good habits and breaking bad ones.

CREATING AND BREAKING HABITS

I am certain you have experienced the challenge of trying to break a bad habit or create a new one. It's hard!  This is partly due to your busy, hectic life.

Many things seem to happen without conscious thought or deliberation. Maybe you forget to go to the gym, unintentionally eat the whole sleeve of girl scout cookies, or go to sleep later than you intended.

Creating new habits or breaking bad ones requires constant awareness and attention.

My experience is what I agree to attend to. 

- William James, The Principles of Psychology.

MINDFULNESS

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If you start by creating a mindfulness practice, you increase your ability to focus and pay attention. This will make it easier to create and break other habits.

BOTTOM LINE

Creating good habits and breaking bad ones is challenging.  It requires both awareness and attention. Starting with a mindfulness practice creates a gateway that makes it easier to build other good habits and break bad ones.

Want to know more? Check out this guest post by Michael John Domingo or my post on employee mindfulness. And, here is my Quora post on some ways to help you focus and build a mindfulness practice.

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