Crossing My Way to Good habits

copyright Mia Laing 'The Reader'
Oil on canvas - 2013
Reading, I love it. Fact, fiction, biographies, crime, historical, light and breezy or heavy old classics, Self Help...and plenty of it! On my bedside table I currently have an art book, a crime novel for book club, a family saga set in Italy, two book's on mindfulness, a book on personality types and a book finished and ready to fling in the bookcase...all about habits. Reading is as much a part of my day as eating and sleeping and has been a habit since childhood. I don't have to think about reading, I just do it, day in and day out, consistently and effortlessly. The last hour of my day is spent in the world of words on paper (yep, I'm still a paper book girl!) and it helps me to switch off before sleep. My Apple Mac dictionary defines HABIT as: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up: • informal an addictive practice • Psychology an automatic reaction to a specific situation. I am fascinated by the Psychology of Habit - what makes us form habits, both good and bad; how to form good habits and get rid of bad ones. Wouldn't it be brilliant to get rid of all those bad habits? I have plenty of habits that have gotta go...Hmmm...P.L.E.N.T.Y. I read a ripper of a blog post about Procrastination and habits the other day. - who writes about habits, health and work. The exact post was: Go and have a read! I just cannot explain it as succinctly as James can.... In a rambling nutshell though - Consistency is the key to good habit formation. Take art, photography or writing for example, it doesn't matter if you are motivated to paint, take photos or write; it doesn't matter if you are getting good results out of your craft... it just matters that you are doing it daily. That you are consistently unlocking the studio, picking up your camera or putting bum to chair at computer DAY AFTER DAY. Motivated or not, you have just got to do it. James Clear explains it with a Jerry Seinfeld story...I wont repeat it here...go read it, but basically, you take a big calendar, a whole year to a page one, and you get a big red marker pen and for each day that you do your task, whether it be exercise, art, writing...whatever you have chosen to do better in, you put a big, red X over that day. After a few days, you will have a chain and then all you need to do is to keep that chain going. It works, believe me! I haven't even got a calendar yet, but just setting my mind to making a chain and not breaking it has helped me to get back to some regular exercise after a very lazy school holiday break and to start daily journal writing... again. These two tasks are simple enough to achieve. I'm not setting a goal of running a half marathon by December or writing a first draft of the next Harry Potter novel, I'm just choosing to do some form of exercise for half an hour daily, whether it be walking the dog, going to the gym, swimming, or walking to the shops instead of driving and writing, however many lines, paragraphs or pages I feel like writing....daily, so I don't break the chain. These tasks are simple and sustainable. They are also meaningful to me...exercise, particularly walking, helps me keep mentally and physically active and healthy, and writing helps to clarify and unmuddle my thoughts, feelings and experiences. By not breaking the chain with my daily exercise, I will keep fit and get fitter, calm my mind and de-stress. By not breaking the chain with my writing, I will (hopefully!) write better and faster, have more ideas and give you guys something to read each week! I proved this concept with my 365 photo a day project last year. By consistently taking a photo and uploading it to Facebook and my adoring fans handful of paid family and friends, my understanding and ability with photography increased faster and far greater than I would ever believed! Doing my 365 project was just an online way of keeping a diary and making that big, red X chain. You can use this concept in any thing that has meaning to you. Be dedicated to small, manageable tasks that will make a difference. If you miss a day...just start over again and try to go longer in-between missed X's next time. Set a schedule and routine if possible, reward your self with that big red X and soon you will find you have formed a good habit that is both addictive and automatic just as the dictionary tells us! Happy Crossing! Mia x
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