Intentional Habits

Whether we think about it or not, we all have good and bad habits we run our lives by. A habit is an action or decision that we have integrated into our lives as a practice. What makes a habit good or bad really depends on the kind of outcome we are expecting (or neglecting) to see. To use a biological term, a habit creates ‘receptors’ to allow us to tune into certain aspects of life.

Inputs leading to outputs; Outputs leading to inputs. Sometimes this is physical. When you smoke cigarettes, for example, the brain develops additional nicotine receptors to deal with the larger doses of nicotine rushing in, opening you up to becoming addicted to it and wanting more. Putting aside the health concerns for smoking, I consider it a harmful habit because it takes the steering wheel out of our hands and eventually controls us, versus us controlling it.

A habit’s ‘receptors’ can also be philosophical and squishy. What does being optimistic instead of pessimistic do to (and for) us? It’s difficult to say with certainty. On the surface, pessimism, negativity, and worry doesn’t really do much to our lives. Or does it? When we have to make small decisions, we negate their potential with doubt and dismiss their validity, we think something like ‘this will never work’ or ‘this is a terrible idea’. When big decisions or possible problems crop up, we worry them to death, and if our fears never come true, we don’t notice because we are on to the next big thing to worry about. What does a habit of negativity do to our careers, our friendships, and community? I’m not sure. Does optimism create for us a better headspace and open us up to more opportunities that we wouldn’t have if we were pessimistic? In my personal experience, I’d say 100% yes. But again, this is all fuzzy logic.

Regardless, these are good things to consider.

How are all of your habits — good, bad and ugly — affecting your life? Which habits are enabling your dreams and which ones are making you sink?

Where things get really tricky is knowing that our habits don’t live in isolation. Each habit we have connects and stacks upon one another. Benefits of one habit might outweigh or cancel out the negative effects of another. An obvious example: You could exercise like a champion every day, but if you are pounding cookies, ice cream and whatever pastries you can get your hands on, the potential gain you would get from exercise is canceled out by your sweet tooth. And if all our habits are mingling and dancing the night away, how do we know which habits are good for us and which are bad?

This question requires so series thought and intentional alone time. It’s difficult to run towards your dreams in life with your hands and feet tied behind you. By finding which habits are holding us back and replacing them with better ones, we can finally start creating momentum in our lives.

Here are some questions to get ya think’n:

  • What habits do I know I have?
  • Which habits do I think are helpful and beneficial to me? Why are they beneficial?
  • Which steps (daily or consistent habits) are getting me towards accomplishing my goals? And why?
  • Are there any unhelpful or bad habits that I’m doing?
  • What habits do I have that I know I should stop doing?
  • What are the benefits and downsides for each of my habits?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #682

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