Self help that make sense, part 1: obsessed with habits
I have long been fascinated by self help books and articles, looking for ideas that anyone can implement. These ideas from blogger Tynan, author of the book Superhuman by Habit, are are so simple they are they profound. I want to share how some of them apply to relationships.
Your life gets screwed up worse by bad habits than having bad things happen to you.
A single piece of cake won’t make you fat. Habitual overeating will. One drink doesn’t create an alcoholic, a lifetime of drinking does. A single missed payment doesn’t ruin someone’s credit but a lifetime of not paying bills will, just like a lifetime of regular saving actually works. Fighting the same fight over and over with your partner absolutely doesn’t work. Same for blaming others for your problems or trying to get them to change, things many of my clients struggle with when they first come in.
You are what you do.
Not what you aspire to. You actually change your identity when you develop good habits.
If you want to run a marathon, you do it by getting out there and running, not talking about it or buying gear. If you want to run, run. That’s how you become a runner. If you want to write, write. Not once, but daily. Till it becomes a habit, till it’s just what you do. It’s that simple.
A few good habits put your decision-making process on autopilot.
When you have good habits, things go well for you more often, and you know what to do, from experience. When you develop good work habits, your career becomes rewarding. When you develop good relationship habits, you no longer waste time having the same fight over and over. Good habits are easier to maintain as time passes: as you succeed, you have more energy to keep doing what works.
Life is easier when you take responsibility
When you make the effort to do the right thing, you become free from wasting time focusing on others, wanting them to do what you want them to, trying to get them to change. When you do you, things go right more of the time. There are no guarantees you will always get what you want, but when you focus on what you can do, not what others aren’t doing for you, your path becomes clear.
Don’t avoid effort
If you are learning something and it’s hard, go towards it. Your effort will be rewarded as you learn master this and future challenges. You spend as much energy avoiding a task (which only makes you feel bad) as mastering it (which makes you feel great). The person who is afraid of water wastes a lifetime avoiding the water. The person who breaks it down and learns to swim gains more than the ability to swim, they gain the ability to learn.
Reward the effort, not the outcome
Outcomes are not in your direct conrol, but your process is. When you have a process that works for you, it is always available. When school children are rewarded for grades, they don’t how to learn to think, or study. So, focus on process and learn to solve problems. When you develop a good process, you don’t need an elaborate reward because having the process is it’s own reward. I’ve worked with couples who stubbornly swore they would only change once their partner did: only get married if the other person promised to have a child with them, stop fighting, make more money, you name it. For hose who get paralyzed looking for a guaranteed outcome they can’t get, the real loss comes from refusing to work on themselves.
Start now, and just keep going.
A huge predictor of success is how soon people start a project after deciding on it. Those who start soon after deciding to do something do better at it than those who put it off. I’ve seen people complain that things only go well…by chance, when conditions are right, etc. Conditions are rarely right enough. I’ve seen people walk away from any number of workable relationships in search for the perfect partner, and I’ve seen arranged marriages work brilliantly.
Learn from your mistakes.
Mistakes feel bad, especially when there are consequences. Still, those who choose learn from failed relationships more often than not go on to build healthy ones. So, if you fail, do not stop! Failure is an opportunity to learn. Those who stumble learning a new skill often get better at it than those who get it right the first time, because they train themselves to make needed adjustments. Learning from your mistakes will take you from pass/fail to a world of options.
Don’t give up
If you give up, your brain will figure out you don’t have go do tough things. So, figure out what your error was and how to correct it. When you get clear how well you are doing and how to do better, you build a self sustaining process that keeps working and can be applied to all challenges: “ a universal framework for training yourself”. Ok, now, get going.