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Habits

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Unlike what many think, meditation is not meant only for the spiritual people.

Instant connectivity to anyone around the world, and the ability to bring any information you want on your screens just by typing a few words onto your devices have reduced the size of our world.

But what has it done to our inner connectivity?

Are we really in sync with our inner self or just distracted every few seconds?

For most of the people, any time they take a break from an activity, their hands automatically reach for the phone. And it shows distraction to the core.

Do you want to live a more fulfilling life?

Meditation could be the key to it.

I am all for habits that can positively enhance your life and help achieve the success you deserve. And I have found that meditation is one such habit that can change your life in a dramatic way.

Let me explain what meditation is and how to start a meditation habit that can help to change your life.

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What is meditation?

Meditation is a science. It is training your mind to be still, to be conscious of the present moment and focusing inwardly by warding away the incessant mental chatter.

Even though you are awake and fully aware of your surroundings, you choose to focus inward. You do not allow your mind to let anything else disturb your focus.

Wonderful, isn’t it?

Who wouldn’t want to escape the stress of daily life and experience calm?

Mastering your mind is essential to achieve success and meditation is a tool that will help.

This ancient method developed centuries ago in India, helps us to gain control of the mind and produce a sense of well-being.

Want to know how to start meditation habit? Learn the benefits of meditation and how to practice meditation.

The benefits of meditation and how it can change your life

Ian Gowler, in his book, 48 Creative Meditations, talk about the effects of meditation as:

Meditation is a key to positive thinking. The more often and the more deeply you enter into the simple silence of profound meditation, the more you return to your natural state of balance. The more balanced you are, the more it seems you connect with your own inner wisdom and all it has to offer. This is another reason to recommend you maintain a regular practice of meditation.

There are different types of meditation. Meditation is nothing but observing your thoughts passively. You can focus on any outside object or simply observe your thoughts.

You observe your thoughts and feelings coming and go, detached from them. When you make it a daily practice, you can gradually see changes in your life as well.

You don’t react to situations as you used to. When something or someone angers you, you tend to observe your thoughts calmly.

It raises awareness of how you are feeling in a moment and stay detached from any negative feeling. But unlike common perception, meditation doesn’t make you feelingless, it simply makes you more in control of your emotions.

Often when we react in the heat of the moment, we tend to say things that we don’t mean to. And the worst thing is, we can’t take them back once they are out in the air.

Imagine how good you will feel if you can remain calm in most negative situations. Mediation gives exactly that.

Researchers have proved that meditation changes the response of amygdala (a part of the brain highly involved with different emotional responses). It has been proved before that the response of amygdala to emotional stimuli is lower when a person is in a mindful meditative state.

But this study took it further and has proved that amygdala response to emotional stimuli is lower even when a person is in a non-meditative state.

In short, meditation affects the way our brain processes emotions even when we are not meditating. It has a long-term effect on our emotional responses. It also increases immunity and slows ageing. These are enough reasons to start meditation today.

But I can hear you.

Are you saying that you don’t have enough time to meditate? Or maybe don’t know how to make it a habit.

Let me help you.

How to start a meditation habit from scratch?

If you are a person who has never meditated in life, you can start easily like this.

All you need is two things: a quiet place and 2-3 minutes. You can try this even while you are reading this, now!

Though there are different types of meditation, I am talking about mindfulness meditation here. This is what I practice and my favorite. And it is an easy one to begin with.

Are you ready?

Choose a posture you are comfortable with. You can either sit on a chair or on a cushion on the floor with folded legs. Different kinds of meditation cushions are available in the market today. But if you are a beginner I suggest sitting on a chair. You can even lie down on your back, but only if you’re sure you won’t sleep.

This infographic below will help in getting your posture right.

Want to know how to start meditation habit? Learn the benefits of meditation and how to practice meditation.
Source: mindful.org

Now, pull out your phone or any timer and set a timer for 2 minutes.

Start focusing on your breath. Take note of each inhale and exhale. Notice how you take breaths. When your mind wanders, gently bring back your attention to breathing. No judgement here or frustration for lack of focus.

Try to stay present with your breathing, not forcefully but gently.

When you catch yourself thinking something else, acknowledge it, but don’t judge. This teaches you to observe your thoughts even when you are not meditating and helps you see things from different perspectives. And it also helps you attain that calm before reacting aggressively to different situations.

Our goal here is to be aware of whatever thought that comes to mind, not removing them.

How to make meditation a habit?

Choose a time when you can practice daily. And set a reminder to do it daily. Start with 2-3 minutes. Be consistent with the practice and slowly increase the time duration.

Choosing a small time duration will help you in establishing the habit. And also, in the beginning, you might not be able to focus for 10 minutes or more.

It is better if you choose a particular time every day and stick with it. It will help you remember the new habit.

When you are trying to form a new habit, there is a possibility of forgetting to do it. Especially if there is no cue associated with it to remind you.

I do my meditation practice right after journaling at night. So writing in my journal is my cue here.

I have been journaling for almost a year now. So it is an established habit. Thus I remember my meditation habit too. You too could associate it with some established habits like

  • Right after brushing teeth in the morning
  • Right before going to bed
  • When you reach home from work
  • Before meal

Related:

You can also keep visual reminders by writing on post-it notes and sticking on your fridge or mirror; the places you are likely to pass by daily.

There you are, you have enough information to start a meditation routine.

What are the challenges you face while meditating? Or even when trying to establish any habit? Let me know about it in the comments below.


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Want to know how to start a meditation habit? Learn the benefits of meditation and how to practice meditation.

 

 

Do you know one of the reasons for procrastination is fear? Here are some tips on how to stop procrastinating when you have fear.

Can you think of a valuable asset you have with you right now?

No matter where you come from, everyone is given this asset.

It’s nothing else, but time.

But, think about how we take care of it.

Are you living in a way, where each day of your life is as productive as possible?

No, I’m not suggesting you live like a robot and live only from a list. But as humans, to be successful in life, you need to plan your days and have an ongoing system to get things done.

But we tend to procrastinate on some important tasks no matter how hard we try. The reason may be deep without us realizing it. 

Laziness isn’t the only reason we procrastinate. It could be the underlying fear of failure.

Related: 8 smart tips to overcome laziness and skyrocket your productivity

Read on to find out how to beat your fear to overcome procrastination.

**This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate link. It helps me run this website and create useful content for you. Thank you for supporting my blog :-)**

Why fear makes you procrastinate? 

Fear of failure haunts you when you have one or more of the following fears.

We fear failure when we doubt our abilities. Self-doubt and lack of self-confidence lead to inaction. Even when we think it’s something we should do, we are unable to take action. We procrastinate.

As a result, many people go to their graves with their dreams buried in them.

Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul.

-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

 How to overcome fear from killing your potential?

Take a sheet of paper and write down the most important task or goal that you tend to procrastinate. And come up with 5-10 reasons why you think you can’t do it (these are your fears).

Now for each reason, think about what can be done to solve each one. Here you get an idea on what’s causing you to procrastinate and you are identifying the solution to each problem.

You can brainstorm more and get more ideas on how you can solve each one. Google is your friend here. You can find tons of articles on solving literally whatever problem you have.

It might be learning new things about your subject, acquiring new skills, or having to figure out about setting aside more time for it.

Writing by hand is important as it gives you more clarity to your thoughts.

Here is a list of some of the fears you might be having.

1. Fear of losing time and effort if you fail

Everyone can have this fear when starting anything new.

What if all my effort goes under the drain? I would lose all the time, money and effort   I spent on it. I could spend it on something else which seems safe.

Such thoughts cause you to procrastinate and paralyze you from taking action. But how do you know what will work for you? Unless you don’t try something, you never know.

It can work or not. If it works, hurray!

But if it doesn’t, I would say it’s still better than not trying and wondering “what would happen if I had tried”. If you fail, you now know what works for you and what doesn’t. You might learn something in the process that you can use in the future.

Napoleon Hill, in his bestselling book, Think and Grow Rich, says

how to overcome procrastination-Napoleon Hill quote

If you don’t try new things, you never grow. Think about being in the same place exactly a year from now.

You don’t want that, do you?

Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba failed many times before becoming a billionaire. He is a master of perseverance. You can be too.

2. Fear of being ridiculed

You are afraid you will make fun of yourself and you worry about what others will think. Especially if you fail, you think you won’t be able to face others.

 Truth be told, nobody gives a damn about what you do in life. Except for a handful of people. And they will always count on you no matter what happens.

Leave the rest of the people whom you worry about. Everyone is worried about their own lives and what they should do. Even our loved ones think mostly about themselves in a day.

Don’t you think it’s true?

What do you think about most in a day?

We are worried about our work, family or health. And we worry about how we come across to other people. Even if people say something about you it is their opinion, it need not be the truth.

No matter whatever you do in life there will always be people who don’t think highly of it. Everyone may not like you or your work. And you know what?

It’s okay.

They don’t need to love what you do and you don’t need everyone’s acceptance to succeed in life.

I used to worry about what people think of me all the time. The biggest breakthrough came to me when I  learned that they don’t think about me all the time. What a relief!

So forget about people. Be your own boss.

3. Fear of not being good enough/smart enough

Self-doubt can be crippling.

It prevents you from taking action, even when your heart screams you want it.

First of all, know that you are not alone in this. Everyone feels they are not good enough/smart enough at one point or the other, especially when starting something new.

Solution:

1. Acknowledge it

Let that thought come and go. Acknowledge that you have it.

The key is in not letting it overpower you. Remember everyone has it and it needn’t be the truth.

2. Analyze the thought

Think about why you have it.

It may be because you are looking at people who have had massive success in their field and comparing yourself with them.

But it is absurd.

Because you are not seeing how they reached there. They started like you, at the lowest rung of the ladder.

Everyone has to start somewhere. You polish your skills and acquire more knowledge as you go. You can never start being an expert.

3. Come up with ideas on how to solve it

Look up to your leaders with a curious mind. Learn how they made it to the top. Find out how you can do the same. At the same time don’t be intimidated by their success.

It’s when you think about only the end result, you get the fear.

Here is a task for you.

Break down your goal into simple steps.

For example, if you want to become a singer, instead of doubting your ability, think about what you can do now to pursue this goal.

As the first step,  you can join a music school and start learning and practicing.

You can surely do that.

But if you look at Beyoncé or Lady Gaga you will feel overwhelmed by thinking you can’t be them. Remember, they started like you.

Related: 3 mistakes to avoid if you want to achieve your goals

4. Fear of not having enough skills

Make a list of all the skills you need in your desired field. Read books or blogs on how to improve those skills.

In this age of instant connectivity, it should never be a problem. You have numerous courses available on any skill you want to achieve. Sign up for a course online or offline.

Build the required skills gradually, one by one. Human beings are made in such a way that we can master almost any skill with the right training and positive attitude.

Conclusion

Conquering your fears one by one is essential to stop procrastinating. Hope this article has helped to understand your fears and inspire you to take action.

What is it that you struggle with and makes you procrastinate? Please comment below.

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Do you know one of the reasons for procrastination is fear? Here are some tips on how to stop procrastinating when you have fear.

 

You have this idea and fire in your belly.how to get motivated when starting new habits

You are sure you are going to do it and get all the necessary items.

The first week goes well, the second week is okay even though sometimes you doubt if it’s gonna work.

Suddenly you don’t seem to have the interest you started with. You are guilty of spending money on all those stuff.

Even though you occasionally do it, you tend to lose motivation and have lost interest.

It lies there in your to-do list or I-will-start-again-someday list.

Why does this happen?

We all want to be successful, stay fit, and have healthy habits.

But even if we take an initiative and start working on it, we sometimes lose interest. We don’t have the fire we started with.

But when you look at other people doing it consistently, you don’t think they go through this.

Let me tell you the truth.

Everyone has those days when they just don’t feel like doing it, even the most successful people.

Here, I am going to help you to take action even when you are unmotivated.

Ready to start?

How to keep yourself motivated?

Staying motivated often doesn’t need to be a power of our mind.

It’s not.

The reason you are not feeling motivated might be because you don’t have a pre-planned routine. To have a productive day and get your work done, you should have some routines or cues that trigger the desired habit.

Identify what area in your life is you are struggling to have motivation in.

It might be starting a new fitness habit, a reading habit, practicing your sports/cooking skills, or anything under the sun you wanna achieve.

Even the most committed person can face this trouble from time to time. It’s human.

But one thing differentiates them from the rest of the people.

It is, they have learned how to deal with it and stick with their routine.

The problem you face is, you know what you should be doing. But you find it difficult to execute.

Difficult. Exactly. The solution I suggest is making it simple.

You see, it’s easier to start a habit than sticking to it.

Sticking to it needs your putting effort into it.

Staying disciplined.

I am gonna tell you exactly how to do it.

Do you want to start better habits, but struggle to be consistent and be motivated? What you need is not motivation, but this.

How to stick to your habits after starting them?

First of all, you should have the immense desire to improve yourself. 

I know it’s a no-brainer.

Whatever your goal is, if you really don’t want it and you are doing it just because someone else is doing it and really successful in it, the chances are you won’t be much motivated to stick with it.

You should fall in love with the idea of doing it.

But you might say you are not in love with the idea of working out. But you love that super fit healthy body, right?

You might sometimes feel lazy to practice your skills, even if it’s something you are passionate about. But you want to be the best in your field, right?

I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”- Muhammed Ali.

Always keep the end result in your mind.

Visualize yourself having succeeded. It helps to get motivated.”

Associate cues to your desired routine.

Derek Doepker, in his book, The Healthy Habit Revolution suggests having cues to remind you of your new habit.

For example, if you want to practice your writing skills put your pen and book somewhere it’s easy to see daily (cue). It will remind you to perform the habit.

If you want to start working out, put your running shoes near your bed before sleeping. Or, put your workout clothes where you can see in the morning as soon as you wake up (existing habit).

The key is associating cues to your existing habits.

Once you have the cues placed, start small.

In the beginning, your focus is on establishing the routine and not about getting much value.

To create a workout habit, commit to doing 5 minutes of workout a day. Or just do a warm up.

You can’t really find excuses to not do 5 minutes of an exercise a day. You can do it even while watching TV.

But you might ask who is going to benefit from a 5-minute exercise. Our aim is not to benefit from it in the beginning but form a new habit.

These are called micro-habits or mini habits.

A mini habit is the tiniest version of your big habits.

That is, take a big habit, make it incredibly small so that you can’t say no to doing it.

For example, if you want to start a reading habit, commit to reading a paragraph a day.

Or if you want to clean the clutter in your room, commit to putting away one or two things in its place daily. Who knows, you might get in a cleaning frenzy and the whole room is shiny and bright as new.

Even if you don’t do that, don’t worry, our goal is to build a habit of cleaning the room daily.

According to research conducted by Phillippa Lally and her colleagues, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, when you do it consecutively. It was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009.

But don’t worry if you miss a day or two. It can stress you out and you might think you are a failure and not try again. What you must do is get back on track as soon as possible.

Because I know when you wanna do something consecutively for two months, life can interfere and you simply might not be able to do it.

This is where practicing mini habits can help you.

It’s easy to do and doesn’t take much time. But you have the sense of accomplishment that you did it.

Most of the time you would be doing it more than the intended time because you have created momentum by starting it.

And motivation follows momentum.

If you are like me, and if it’s something you really have been nurturing in your mind, you don’t wanna stop soon.

Creating a routine is more important in the beginning. Once it’s a habit, you won’t feel the need to get motivated daily.

Habits are automatic behaviors that you do on a consistent basis, once the cue/trigger goes off.

I mean you don’t need motivation to brush your teeth right?

(Or do you? I hope not!)

That’s the power of habit.

Read: How to start an exercise habit and stick with it

Takeaway

When struggling with motivation, remember mini habits. I bet you can’t say no to it.

More articles on habits:

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Do you want to start better habits, but struggle to be consistent and be motivated? What you need is not motivation, but this. #habits

I love this quote by Octavia E. Butler.

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

It shows what role habits play in our life. There are days on which we don’t feel like taking action. But if we are successful in forming healthy habits, they can keep us going, even when we are unmotivated.

Think about it. We are creatures of habits. What do we do as soon as we get up?

Many people now reach for their phone. Or we would be going to the bathroom.

How does that instinct come to us?

Because our brain recognizes it as something we do every time a cue/trigger happens.

Knowing how habits are formed is important to form new habits and change old ones.

**This post contains affiliate links. I  may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate link. It helps me run this website and create useful content for you. Thank you for supporting my blog :-)**

how are habits formed in the brain

What are habits?

Habits are automatic behaviors that have been wired into our brains through repetition and as days pass, we do it less consciously.

Neuroscientists have found that there is a part of our brain called basal ganglia which is crucial for habit forming. Once a neural pathway for a habit is established in our brain, it never goes away. This is good for us since the thinking part of the brain can concentrate on other important activities.

But the downside is that our brain doesn’t recognize good habits from bad.

How are habits formed?

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains about the cycle that happens when we actually perform a habit.

  • Cue

Cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.

  • Routine

It is what you do once you get the cue. It can be physical or mental or emotional.

  • Reward

Reward helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

For example, take the habit of checking smartphones.

You are working, in your office or kitchen. Or you are talking to someone. Your phone buzzes (cue). You reach for your phone automatically even though you know it’s a junk mail or yet another useless forward message (routine). You read it (reward). You get rewarded by the momentary distraction (craving).

How many times has that happened to you?

If your brain likes the reward, it will crave for it again when the cue appears again.

Take the case of craving for junk food.

You are driving on a highway and you are hungry. You see a McDonald’s (cue). You pull off your car and orders a burger. You eat it (routine). You get rewarded. You ate a burger even though you knew there are healthier options available in other places.

Our cravings initiate habit loop.

 Our brain remembers the outcome of each habit. It remembers the feedback. If it is positive, it acts automatically when the cue comes again. Thus, the loop is formed and the neural pathway for the habit gets wired into our brain.

In the above case, you have eaten a McDonald’s burger before and you know the taste. Your brain remembers it and craves for it again when the cue comes again.

Cues can be anything; it can be visual (when we see something), people (when we’re with certain people we get the urge to do certain things like smoking or drinking), our thoughts etc.

The good news is that you can change any habit if you identify what you crave for. Ultimately, both good and bad habits are formed based on rewards. Once you experience the reward of doing something, you crave for it again next time the cue appears before you.

For example, once you get the adrenaline rush after a good workout session, you want to experience it again. Once you experience how coffee stimulates you, you want it more. (Warning: Too much caffeine is bad for you).

If you scrutinize your bad habits also, you can understand there is some reward you crave for.

Understanding the habit loop and replacing the routine with something better of your choice, which gives the same reward, is the key to changing habits.

More articles on habits:

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To make or break habits, you have to know how habits are formed in the brain (habit loop explained). #habits