I was talking with a couple of my girlfriends about the habits that they set with their kids. Those healthy habits that all of us want to practice but can’t quite get them to stick.
It got me thinking how habits are formed and how you can change an unwanted one.
My kids are getting to an age where I want to impart all the ‘good’ stuff in life and create habits that will be as firm as learning how to walk and talk.
Being mindful as a parent has a lot to do with selflessness. It doesn’t always come easy for me. It doesn’t really come natural for any one. It’s one of those things you have to want to work on. Being mindful takes time and energy and sometimes I feel all I am doing is giving of myself.
I’ve found it actually makes me happier on the inside when I practice being mindful of people and that sense of giving out of myself changes and actually in turn blesses me.
I want to create a habit in our family, getting together with no distractions once a day and simply talking about our day, taking the time to listen and being mindful of each others stories, doing a small devotion together and taking time to input into each others lives.
So back to how habits are formed; The first time you think or do something, a neural pathway is created in your brain. Then as you think or do that particular thing again and again, the neural pathway becomes stronger.
I am a visual learner, so picture when you walk across a stretch of grass. You leave light footprints, the grass starts to flatten. If you continue to walk across the grass in the same place, gradually a path forms. In time it can become a very well worn path.
With our brains, as you think certain thoughts or begin to do something over and over again it becomes easier and easier for you to continue to think or do them. When a strong emotion is present with the thoughts/action, the neural pathway is ‘worn in’ deeper, it becomes stronger and faster.
I am thinking the easiest way to change an unwanted habit is to start practicing the new habit you prefer.
Easier said than done but I’m going to give it a red hot go, as my friend Brooke would say! Be mindful of your friends. I encourage you to ask them what habits they want to form in their lives and be accountable to each other.
So what’s it going to be for you?