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I have written many times about the necessity of forming positive productive habits. Habits, after all, are mind patterns which allow us to operate on more than one mental level at a time. Without habits, we would find it very hard to do something as simple as walk and chew gum at the same time. Not all habits are productive, however, and nonproductive habits are difficult to eliminate. If we are to be successful, we must be open to change. Author James Baldwin said this about change: “Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.”
There are four primary ways to eliminate or change a habit without going into shock. All of them require a conscious commitment to change. I will use cigarette smoking as an example of a habit we would like to change. By the way, two-thirds of smokers interviewed in one survey said they would quit if they could do it without withdrawal symptoms. Although I’m using smoking, the same principles can be used to change most habits.
1. Eliminate your access to anything that facilitates the habit. Don’t carry cigarettes with you. Let everyone around you know you have quit smoking and that they are not doing you a favor by letting you “borrow” a cigarette. If you cannot quit cold turkey, put the cigarettes in an inconvenient location—for example, the top shelf of a cupboard that requires a stool in order to get one.
2. Look for a pleasurable replacement. Substitute something else for the cigarette. For example, take ten deep breathes, and try to think of a pleasurable experience every time you have the urge for a cigarette. In the beginning, depending on how strong your urge, you may have a tendency to hyperventilate, but at least you will have a smile on your face.
3. Alter your patterns. By definition, a habit is something we do without conscious thought. Therefore, in order to change the habit, we must transform it from an unconscious to a conscious action. Most smokers keep their cigarettes in a favorite spot—a place they can reach without even thinking. By constantly changing the location where the cigarettes are kept, the habit pattern can be broken and it will require at least some level of conscious thought to find one and light it up.
4. Convert the craving by transmuting it. Change the habit into something beneficial. In mythology, transmutation was the alchemist’s goal. He wanted to change base metal into silver or gold. We can do this with smoking by using the negative nicotine cravings as a trigger to cause us to use the energy to do a few simple isometric exercises which will result in positive health benefits.
Over the next week, look at the things you do as habits. Now determine how many of those habits are making your life easier or better and how many are causing you pain. Only a fool would continue the latter and you are no fool.
We all have habits we would like to change. Smoking may not be your nemesis or the habit you wish to break, but these general principles will apply to any change you wish to make. Look at each of the four principles carefully and apply them creatively to your habit situation.
Bill Hodges Hosts “Spotlight on Tampa Bay
Bill Hodges also hosts an interview-format television program, “Spotlight On Tampa Bay.” It airs Mondays at 8 p.m., Bright House cable channel 950 and Verizon cable channel 30. His guest for November 24 and December 8 will be Florida State House Representative Rep. Rich Glorioso from District 62. He is a Republican member of the legislature and will share with us his perceptions of what Florida and the nation will be facing in this time of leadership change and financial tumult. This program will be repeated on November 26 and December 10 (Wednesdays), at 7:30 p.m. on channel 949.
Appearing on Monday, December 1 and 15, is Florida House Senate District 18 Senator Arthenia Joyner. Senator Joyner, a Democrat, will give us her views on how the state will change as the result of the election. The program will be repeated on December 3 and 17 (Wednesdays), at 7:30 p.m. on channel 949.
Bright House subscribers who cannot get the higher channels can get—at no installation fee and a monthly $1 fee—a box to allow access to the upper level government and educational channels. Call Bright House for rental details. If you are unhappy about paying extra to see your government in action, complain to your state representatives and the Hillsborough BOCC which have either caused this situation or been complicit in allowing it to continue.
Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and
syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars
International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.
Web site: http://www.BillHodges.com
Copyright 2008 Hodges Seminars International
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News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.
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