Rules for Establishing A New Health Habit:
- One see that the skill of stopping a habit is in itself a skill worth learning
- Two see the parallel between the words compulsion, mindless, and habit
- Three the skill of learning a Health Habit requires the sub skills of adopting, deleting, and modifying behaviors
- Four to see that the map is not the territory and that implies it’s easy to talk about change but it is a difficult path at times
- Five weigh the options for yourself
- Six don’t cut corners instead build the perseverance and the skill to rise to the challenge
I want to start this article in a direction that will at first seem off-base, but stay with me and you will be happy you did.
I want to first compare a compulsive behavior with a habit because I see them as one in the same depending on the perspective. A compulsion is a repetitive and ritualized behavior. It’s when a person exercises a pattern of behavior automatically. Can you imagine an automatic behavior you have in your life? An easy automatic behavior to recognize would be the path you take getting to and from work. Most people take the same route to and from work or maybe you apply some slight variation. You won’t deviate too far from the route because the drive would start to become ineffective and add unnecessary stress.
The conclusion I’m attempting to draw is that the word compulsion has a negative charge to it. Now, let’s look at another word. In the same vein of context, I’d like to explore driving to and from work. If you are like most people than you have had the experience of driving to and from work mindlessly. The word is mindless and in this example, mindless implies that you don’t have to think about how you were going to drive to and from work. A counter example would be if your normal route to and from work was disrupted by traffic. The disruption to your normal route would make you very mindful of time and your driving strategy as opposed to mindless, easy, and requiring little investment from you mentally.
The parallel I am attempting to draw is that a repetitive behavior can start to become so mindless and easy. There’s another word I’m going to introduce now and the word is Habit. People often use the word “habit” in reference to establishing some new “Health Habit“. A habit just implies that you will get used to something. The habit of brushing your teeth eventually became a mindless activity you do at a ritualized time in your day. Can you see some similarities between the words compulsion, mindless, and habit?
The words compulsion, mindless, and habit in the big picture are all just words to describe learning. You learn how to brush her teeth for example. You learn how to drive back and forth to work. Perhaps, you learn to check your phone because you are anticipating a message from someone important. By now you are probably asking yourself this question, “Dominic, what does learning have to do with exercise and nutrition?” My answer, “Everything“.
Let’s say for example you are trying to establish a new Health Habit for movement or nutrition. I’m going to choose nutrition as the subject of choice. So, let’s say you are trying to establish a new habit for eating. Essentially, you are trying to add a new compulsion to your life. For example, if you are trying to stop eating chips and you are trying to start eating vegetables, then you are trying to add two new compulsions. In this example, you’re trying to add the compulsion of “stopping” yourself from eating one thing. To compulsively stop, or to use different words, to repetitively stop, or to broaden the horizon and use a different set of words again, you are attempting to “interrupt the mindless pattern” that would be an example of eating chips.
Let me zoom out for a second to put all the parts of this article into a functional order. To stop a behavior implies that you must learn to stop the behavior. To stop a specific behavior you must become mindful of when you were actually engaging in the behavior. So, to see yourself stopping the behavior you must become mindful of the behavior you want to stop. People often tell me, “I don’t know what happens. I walked into the kitchen and go to have one chip and before I knew it I ate the whole bag”. This is an example of this person’s history of mindlessly and compulsively and habitually eating without being mindful of their body.
In this example, if the person wants to really change their body then they must learn how to “stop” eating certain foods. The process of “stopping” is in itself and habit. Here’s the point I’m attempting to make now. I see so many people who frustrate themselves because they don’t take a big picture perspective on the changes they are trying to make in life. And, if I could tell everyone one thing about adopting, changing, and modifying behaviors in reference to health, exercise, and nutrition then I would say this, “Mindset Determines The Outcome”. How you frame your challenges and the process you used to achieve your goals should be aligned. You can see the process of learning a new Health Habit as a healthy challenge or a death sentence it’s all up to you.
This might be a hard pill to swallow. The rules for successfully adopting, deleting, and modifying Health Habits and behaviors are simple. But, the map is not the territory. Weigh the options for yourself. Ask yourself this question, “Do I want to grow old and not have the skills to care for my body?” Don’t cut corners when it comes to your health because people in your family and in your community need you.
Your friendly neighborhood trainer,
Subject: Mindset/Compulsive Behavior/Mindless Activities
Sub Category: Eating, a compulsive behavior/Mindless Activity
Sources for good information based on the above post:
“A compulsion is a repetitive, ritualistic behavior that a person performs without rational motivation.”
Website: Columbia University’s Perspective on Compulsive Behavior
“When a person has a compulsion, he is trapped in a pattern of repetitive and senseless thinking—and these behaviors can prove difficult to overcome.”
Website: Psychology Today’s take on Compulsive Behaviors
a : marked by a lack of mind or consciousness a mindless sleep
b (1) : marked by or displaying no use of the powers of the intellect
Website: Merriam-Webster Definition of Mindless
“Habit: to make used to something. Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic.”
Website: Merriam-Webster Definition of Habituating
“Habituation is an extremely simple form of learning, in which an animal, after a period of exposure to a stimulus, stops responding.”
Website: Animal Behavior Explains Habituation