Thought Exercises for Changing Habits
Here are three thought exercises that I personally use when stuck in a rut or puzzling over a problem that seems impossible.
When some idea or trend doesn't make sense, yet remains pervasive, pause and think. To paraphrase an idea from Adam Robinson: when the mechanisms of the world seem to defy logic, there is something powerful at play that is being missed. It's not the world that is wrong, but rather one's model of the world. Ask "What am I not considering that might explain this trend? Is there a possibility that I cannot see which would answer the question?"
When you notice yourself saying that you 'always do' or 'always have been' something, pause and think. Every person tells and retells themselves stories about who, how and what they are. It's how the brain works and why we remember certain things better than others. We define and reinforce our reality by the stories we tell ourselves about family, career, love, happiness, and success. Unfortunately, the same mechanism allows people to believe things about themselves and the nature of reality that no longer serve the circumstances. Ask "Is it possible that being/acting a different way will be more beneficial? Do things need to be a certain way just because that is what has happened in the past?"
When one choice leads to something familiar and another to something new, pause and think. Some situations require a predictable result, such as baking angel food cake. Others benefit from a more free form approach, like creating art. While a certain amount of predictability is nice, the kinds of results that bring personal growth require decisions with uncertain outcomes. One can never know how an important life decision will turn out, and a willingness to embrace the unknown over the familiar is essential. Ask "Does the familiar choice lead to the outcome I want? Might the uncertain path lead to a more fulfilling life?"
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