Earlier this year a client sent me a commentary from a reverend at Seminary of the Southwest, reflecting on Advent as a process of making room. The reverend likens it to hiring an organizer, which initially seems like a really great idea. But then the organizer wants us to start selling, donating or throwing away stuff – uh oh. It’s hard and we drag our feet, holding on to too much stuff. But we want the end result of living with peace and less stress.
Consider the parallel to healthy habits. We decide to eat better, exercise and get proper rest and can imagine the outcome but then we have to give up certain things like mindless eating while watching TV, nighttime electronics and pressing the snooze button. Again, uh oh.
What’s interesting is that the things we need to give up to get what we want are not doing us any real good. Why is it so hard to let go? Often because our habits run so deep, they’re so automatic, that it takes more effort than we’re used to expending in order to change them. And, they provide instant gratification (even if fleeting).
I’ve found habit inquiry to be helpful with my clients. We identify the cues and rewards for their current behaviors so they can start replacing old patterns with new habits.
And it’s an ongoing process. To live clutter-free we need to maintain what we’ve created, so it’s necessary to be discerning about what we allow into our space. Similarly, we must keep alert to the many things that will draw us off our healthy habits, especially in the beginning before the habits really takes hold. And know that all of those things that want to be “let in” to your life look like good things, so weigh the new “good” against your current “great.” Is it worth it?
And that’s really the question to continually ask: Is it worth it? Will I happily live with the consequences of my decision? How does this decision, this habit, affect the long-term, not just this immediate moment?
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