Thanksgiving is a Great Time to Start!
It can be hard to feel gratitude in trying times. It is also hard to meditate, to do our yoga practice, to eat right, to remember to take our vitamins, to be motivated to show up and be our best. And yet these are the times we need these practices the most.
Why is it so hard? Because we have not firmly developed the habit of doing these things. Habits are formed from practicing the same thing day in and day out. Research on habits shows it takes no less than 6 weeks sometimes up to a year to change our neurological wiring. Think back to when you were young. What were the habits that you were forming? Some that your parents wanted you to have – like brushing your teeth or doing your homework. The others that you were interested in like learning to drive a car. You wanted more driving time because somehow you realized the more you practiced, the better you would become at this skill. It is that way with thoughts, beliefs, and emotions too!
Emotions and Thoughts Can Become Habitual Too!
Without realizing it, we develop many habits of thinking and feeling early on – some are helpful and some, over time, are not so helpful. Here are a few of the habits you might have developed when you were younger that made you feel better: speaking to a friend or family member, praying, exercising, listening to music, or reading. These practices might have made you feel good and be happier. So, you practiced them every day.
It is the subconscious habits we develop as protection for ourselves that may end up hurting us in the long run. And we all do it. At first, these often unconscious habits may have felt like they were working in your life, but somehow over time, they stopped serving you, and then you started to believe something was terribly wrong with you.
Are You Aware of Your Habitual Thoughts and Beliefs?
Here are just a few of these habitual thoughts and beliefs that become so ingrained that they create an incessant chatter in your nervous system depleting your reserves to deal with the stress we are facing outside of ourselves.
- All or nothing thinking
- Over exaggerating
- Judging others who are different as bad
- Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs)
- Belittling ourselves
- Numbing our feelings with addictive behaviors that could include drugs and/or alcohol, shopping or food
- Spiritual bypassing (if I am spiritual then I won’t have bad things or somehow I am better than others)
In the aftermath of the pandemic, we are still feeling the trauma of the 20 plus months of the stresses on our nervous system. With very little of the outer world to distract us, it put our own habitual ways of dealing with our life on trial. We came face-to-face with “binge-watching our thoughts” in addition to Netflix, as the author and spiritual leader Michael Beckwith puts it.
Daily Practices That Can Become Your New “Feel-Good” Habits
Instead of starting our day with the habit of being exposed to “mental debris, such as the news or our incessant to-do list”, we can create some new habits.
You can then do a short walk to have exposure to daylight. You can daily ask yourself the following question, according to author Beckwith. “What is the best thing that can happen to me today?” Beckwith says when you ask your heart, soul, God, the Universe, this question you are creating the habit that may start as hope, lead to faith and then become a conviction that the Universe is a friendly place and you are here for a reason.
As you go on with your day, you may need to add a few more habits of breathing into your heart to continually listen to the whisperings of intuition and knowing. Taking those minutes throughout the day will firmly establish this habit. In the beginning, it will feel like work, but over time, it will become second nature. At the end of the day before going to bed, there is one more practice that can become a healing habit and that is the practice of gratitude. There are so many simple ways of doing this.
You can do a Joy Journal, you can write 3-10 things that you are grateful for, you can offer them up as a prayer of thanks before bed, or even share them with a partner. Will you join me in developing this practice during Thanksgiving 2021? By next year at this time, it will be second nature.
With Gratitude, Andrea