Habits are a sort of web of energy that create what we know to be normal. Andy Gilmore’s art is to me a perfect representation of habit at its best- repeating patterns that create something harmonious and beautiful.
Not all habits have the kind of beauty, though.
Recently I started looking at the energetic idea of a “habit field”. Its the energy patterns that some people claim they can see surrouding people, the “normal” haze that constructs their behavior sort of surrounding people in their electrical aura. I notice that when the habit is gone, I don’t “feel it” around me any more.
Now… I know that’s a big leap of faith to believe that 1. you have an aura and 2. that people can see it! However, if you can dig into the metaphor of a habit-field of energy around you, even if you don’t believe it is tangible or can be seen by a clairvoyant, you may understand why you keep doing things that you don’t want to do, over and over again.
We all do it. We all have habits that we’d like to break.
Science tends to look at the brain as the key to understanding habits and breaking the bad ones. The most compelling science looks at behavior rather than presuming that all brains work in exactly the same way.
Today, some simple and cool science breaks down why you may be having a hard time kicking certain habits… and there are a few really great ideas to help you start new habits that stick!
It seems that there is a great divide: conscious behavior and unconscious behavior.
If we could be 100% conscious all the time, we’d have no habits. Imagine having to think of every action you took while doing simple things like driving a car or chewing a mouthful of food. We do it habitually. It would be quite a task if we needed to give all of our focus to these things, and if you’ve ever been very sick or injured or disabled, you know what kind of focus it takes to do simple things we take for granted as unconscious habits. Its monumental to see what we can train ourselves to do without even thinking about it at all.
To break a habit means becoming conscious where its all been automatic. This alone is a big way to make a dent in your habits, by simply being aware of them in real time.
Awareness is awesome. It doesn’t mean you’ve made a change, though!
In a very user-friendly presentation in Science Daily, Wendy Wood explains recent reserach findings on changing habits. This is really fun stuff, especially since we all can actually do what she suggests quite easily:
” According to Wood, there are three main principles to consider when effectively changing habitual behavior. First, you must derail existing habits and create a window of opportunity to act on new intentions. Someone who moves to a new city or changes jobs has the perfect scenario to disrupt old cues and create new habits. When the cues for existing habits are removed, it’s easier to form a new behavior. If you can’t alter your entire environment by switching cities– make small changes. For instance, if weight-loss or healthy eating is your goal, try moving unhealthy foods to a top shelf out of reach, or to the back of the freezer instead of in front.
The second principle is remembering that repetition is key. Studies have shown it can take anywhere from 15 days to 254 days to truly form a new habit. “There’s no easy formula for how long it takes,” Wood says. Lastly, there must be stable context cues available in order to trigger a new pattern. “It’s easier to maintain the behavior if it’s repeated in a specific context,” Wood emphasizes. Flossing after you brush your teeth allows the act of brushing to be the cue to remember to floss. Reversing the two behaviors is not as successful at creating a new flossing habit. Having an initial cue is a crucial component.”
So, if you are ready to wake up to a new way to live… shake up your patterns, keep repeating the new things you want to have as a part of your life and bring cues into your environment to constantly remind you of the change.
This just happens to be feng shui in my way. And I’m psyched that science agrees that it works!
I’m always looking for new ways to enter the habit field and create space for new and awesome. Have you tried to change a habit recently? How did it go? How did you do it? Please let me know. This is a big conversation to get started! xoxo Dana
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