How to change a habit
If you were a driver, then you would
relate easily to this regular occurrence that all drivers have come to
experience at some point in time. Many times I have noticed to my amazement
that whenever I am on the phone (hands-free, of course), while driving a
frequented route, I end up reaching my destination without even realizing it.
All I remember is that I got on the phone and now I am parked at the
destination. It’s miraculous how your brain takes complete control of where you
are going without any conscious effort from your side, provided it’s a
frequented or regular route. I want you to re-read the last part of the
sentence ‘provided it’s a frequented or regular route’. You know why this
happens? If you can truly understand the ‘why’, you will end up having the
answer to most of life’s mysteries.
The reason why it happens is because your mind follows instructions, without any conscious effort, that have been repeated over and over to it. This phenomenon can be summed up in one word – Habit. It’s the power of a habit that is at work here.
Now see what happens when a new path has to be taken. The other day when I was driving back home from work, I wanted to drop by at Burger King to pick up some grub. I consciously thought about it before I started the car. I had to take a different route than my regular route if I had to get to Burger King. As I was underway, I received a phone call. I got busy on the phone and by the time I finished with the call, I had already parked my car. As I was getting out I exclaimed, “Oh, Shoot!” Why? Because I was parked in front of my house! I had totally forgotten about the Burger King while driving, and my mind took me back on the regular road.
Now what happened here? I stopped thinking about Burger King the moment I got on the phone. And because of that, my mind got reset to the previously set pattern of thinking and got me home instead. The lesson to be learnt here is that you should always make a conscious effort to keep the thought of the new destination in mind UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR DESTINATION. So how does one do it?
Imagine if I had written on an A4 sheet of paper ‘Burger King’ and placed it on the dashboard where I could see it. You think I would remember to stop by. In probability, “Yes!” So, if you want to arrive at a different destination than your habitual one, you need to take effort to remind yourself of the new destination again and again, till you reach it. There is no two ways about it.
So is there a life lesson in this? Yes, and it’s huge! Say for example, you are a very timid person by nature, and you want to become bold. First, you have to understand and realize that you are a timid person because it has become a habit to you. So your mind naturally will go in that direction. In order for your mind to take a different destination i.e. being bold, you need to re‘mind’ yourself to be bold every time and keep on at it, till you become bold. And to do that, write the words ‘Day by Day in every way I am getting bolder and bolder’ and stick it up in front of your bed where you can see it CLEARLY, before you go to sleep and right after you wake up. And before you realize it, you will keep getting bolder and bolder. Keep the sheet up there till ‘being bold’ has become a habit, and you are sure that you are a new person.
Likewise, you can apply this technique to anything and everything. If you don’t believe what I am saying, try it for a week and see if there is any difference in your behavior. But apply it for the good of mankind, and not otherwise.