New Year’s resolutions are notorious for not being carried by. They generally last just a few weeks, a month at most. But it’s not the only time we make promises to correct bad habits is it? The Billy Field typical song in the early 1980’s summarised this sentiment so well, “Can’t help myself, bad habits…”
The following riddle was given to me some five years ago; see if you can work it out.
Guess who/what I am:
I am your continued companion,
I have the brain of a human, and the accuracyn of a machine,
Half your job you might in addition give to me… you only need to teach me and after only a few lessons I’ll do it for you automatically!
You can use me for your success, or you can use me for your ruin.
A warning however; you need to be FIRM with me; if you’re not, I have the strength to destroy you.
Who/what am I?
This riddle proved predictive in my life. On my way to an Australian airport I had a ride in a taxi cab I’ll never forget. The driver had taken me for a ride earlier and now had picked me up again for the final leg of the day. He was nice enough, but you know, he’s a driver and I was tired so I didn’t care much for his banter.
But he persisted, and this somehow intrigued me, particularly after he’d parroted the riddle the third time, commanding my attention, luring my curiosity. I listened again, and by virtue of this, the driver was already more intense in his rendition of it. I made a few fumbled attempts to guess it, unsuccessfully. As we arrived at the airport, he revealed the answer to the riddle: habits. The “who/what am I?” is habits. Read the riddle again if you like.
Exactly one week later my world fell apart. And it all fell apart to a large degree because of my habits, my bad habits. In retrospect the warnings were there, but we rarely notice the warnings do we? ‘If only I had done something about these problems earlier’ I mused and agonised. Too late, my time was up. Keeping in mind we’re defined by our habits, what are you heading towards? You do reap what you sow in this life-it happens that reliability that it is foolish to live any other way.
This might be your opportunity to notice the warning. What habit has the possible to destroy you, whether it be a relationship like a marriage, your health because you smoke or drink too much; is it your temper-are you too easily angered? What about the person with heart problems or high blood pressure and continues to eat poorly or not exercise? It doesn’t take a scientist to work out the end will not be pretty. It will more than likely be a tragic and painful end.
Sow curses and bad things (on yourself or others) and you will reap cursing; nothing of real worth will come. however if you sow ‘good’ you will get it.
The solution is using the strength of the mind to break bad habits. Did you know that by good habits you can break bad habits? The mind has the ability to be ‘re-programmed’ by new myelination. This is a course of action where the neural pathways (brain wiring) are transformed and supercharged and go from being a ‘dirt tracks’ to a ‘super highways’-this method your brain uses these new and enhanced pathways in preference to the old ones and they are much quicker too-this is how habitual behaviour is produced. This is what happens when we learn new things, and persist with them long enough for good habits to form. New and powerful pathways are produced. To change a habit, you just need to stick at it long enough and a new pathway will be produced and there you go; new habit. It’s not that hard in theory.
This is why it is so important to not just give something up, but we must replace that bad habit with an equally powerful positive habit. We then create the new myelination in opposition to the old one.
for example, giving up smoking. Make a resolution to replace that habit with some others, like having gum to chew on as a reward-using delayed gratification it works well. Save it up, look forward to it. Get out and walk in the fresh air and surprise at the world we live in. Make the new habits highly personable to you. Cherish them. Think positively.
One thing for sure with habits and changing them; we need to be vigilant and must not relent, because if you give the old habit one tenth of a chance and it will come back and grab you and plague you worse than before as you realise it wouldn’t have been as bad to continue your resolve as it is now that you’ve given in. Stick at it. It is always worth the upfront pain. You can do it, and you will, one day at a time.
© Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved Worldwide.