By: Robert Gerzon
How are you doing with your New Year's resolutions?
Inspired by the sight of a new calendar, we vow to do better during the coming year. We resolve to break a bad habit (to stop overeating, to stop going to bed so late) or to build a good habit (to be a better listener, to exercise more). All too often we find that the force and momentum of our old habits soon overcome our best intentions.
We hope to replace our bad habits with good ones, or at least better ones. But what about habit itself? The dictionary defines habit as "an unconscious pattern of behavior." Habits are personal software programs that allow us to live most of our life on auto-pilot. These software programs were written many years ago and often were installed by other people (known as parents). It makes sense that our software might require an upgrade for us to function at our best.
But here's a deeper reason to look at our habits. Buddha, Jesus and many other spiritual teachers taught that we need to wake up from an unconscious, habit-driven way of living to become fully-conscious free human beings. Jesus advised against "pouring new wine into old wineskins." In other words, don't process new life experiences with outdated thought patterns. When people asked Buddha if he was divine, he said simply, "I am one who has awakened."
Years ago I decided to only have one New Year's resolution each year (the most challenging and rewarding one I could imagine): to live each day consciously and creatively. I found that focusing on living each moment with awareness has allowed me to respond to life more authentically and more successfully.
How does it work? Instead of focusing on individual habits I focus on staying conscious throughout the day. Instead of dieting, I eat with awareness. Instead of an ambitious new exercise regimen or early-to-bed resolutions, I listen to my body's needs and respond to them. Instead of trying to "be more considerate," I aim to be more conscious in all my relationships.
So this year, why not break the ultimate habit -- the habit of living from habit. Although good habits are better than bad ones and being completely free of habits isn't a realistic goal, we can all experience more freedom and renewed excitement about our lives if we free ourselves from the dictatorship of our habits.
The key to living consciously instead of sleep-walking through life is to pay attention to what you are saying to yourself at each moment: your "Inner Talk." Examining your Inner Talk gives you access to the software that's been running your life. You can decide what to keep and what to change. The good news is you are not a prisoner of your past conditioning. You can choose new Inner Talk based on your true values and your life purpose.
If conscious and creative living is your ultimate goal, why not use daily life as practice? Approaching each moment as fresh and new will keep your mind sharper, your body healthier and your heart happier. When new Inner Talk flows through the neurons and synapses of your brain old habit patterns dissolve automatically. Each day is more exciting and filled with new potential when you approach it with "beginner's mind."
Best wishes for a conscious and creative New Year!
About the Author: Robert Gerzon is a holistic psychotherapist, life coach and author of "Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety." Please visit http://www.gerzon.com for more information and inspiring personal growth articles.
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