Use Inspiration to Break Habits
It’s not the “what” that happiness focuses on that will help us break habits. It’s the inspired “why.” Goals can hold our happiness hostage and habits are impossible not to ignore when we are focused on the “what.”
If we live the inspired life, we are more mindful of the “why” and spend less time on the “what.” Simply choosing to think about why we’re working on a goal will bring us fuel while we’re working on that goal, and we will not be holding our happiness hostage until we reach it.
Particularly when quitting bad habits or starting good ones, if we focus too much on the what, we might find ourselves spending too much time thinking about what we don’t want and not enough time living freely in the flow of life.
What can we do instead? How can we NOT think of not smoking, biting our nails, eating that donut, or whatever we are working on? Focus on the why. We might want to quit a habit because we know it’s healthier or we should (we’ll learn more about those judgmental shoulds later). Reasons like this won’t stand a chance once that habit starts taunting us.
Get deeper and more personal. Why do you want to stop doing what you’re doing? Likely because you want something more meaningful than the vague reasons just mentioned.
We don’t quit something until we are ready. It doesn’t matter if we know how “bad” it is for us or that we or other people don’t like it. If those were reasons enough, we would have stopped a long time ago. I have heard many smokers say “I’m going to die someday anyway, so what does it matter?”
While I may want to, there’s no point in arguing, because even causing a shorter life isn’t a powerful enough reason to stop smoking.
So how about living a better life? Get to those reasons. Do you want to be a better role model for your kids? Have you been avoiding a trip to Italy because you can’t imagine going 14 hours on a plane without a cigarette? If you want to stop doing something, stop focusing on the what so much or you’ll drive yourself nuts. Start focusing on the why, the part that is personal to you. Put pictures of your kids and Italy on your desk and as your phone background. The more you concentrate on the why, the more inspiring, powerful and supportive that why will become.
By age 15, I had been biting my nails for at least ten years. I hated it. I’d put tape or Band-Aids on my nails before I went to bed because I’d bite them so low that they were throbbing and the pressure of the Band-Aids made them feel better. One time I got warts all around my cuticles. They looked disgusting.
I tried that stuff that tastes bad to deter you from biting—I quickly learned to tolerate it. My parents would reprimand me or make comments. I didn’t care. When I finally stopped, it had nothing to do with being sick of my bleeding, stubby fingernails.
I met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart and was dreaming about all the amazing things to come. I dreamt about my wedding and I wanted to have real nails. That’s when and why I stopped biting my nails. I was inspired by how my wedding would be and that inspiration was enough to stop a bad habit I’d done for a decade and that no other conventional efforts could impact. While this reason might be ridiculously irrelevant to anyone else, certainly not worthy of someone else kicking a bad habit, it was the personal part of inspiration that gave it the power to change my life.
I turned the energy I used to put into biting my nails into inspired energy. I started painting my nails fun colors. I did fun designs. I painted different Christmas scenes with toothpicks on each nail during the holidays. I loved getting creative with my nails and taking care of them.
While I didn’t marry my high school sweetheart, I did meet the love of my life more than ten years later, and I did marry him with my real nails.
It may take time to get to your true why, but it’s your best shot at getting real and changing your life. Explore all why’s and start to focus on them. Settle into the ones that make you feel something more than others. Continue to evolve them. Focus on your inspiration list, and you’ll know when you’re ready. It’s your life. Let it be about your inspiration and no one else’s.
I wish other people were enough to make us change, but generally, they aren’t. Even our own lives are sometimes not enough. Wanting to be “happy” can be tossed aside so easily when it gets tough. “I’m happy enough, I don’t really need to quit.”
Happiness is not powerful enough to break our habits, but inspiration is waiting, ready and willing. Inspiration is a powerful change agent waiting to be harnessed by you.
If you find yourself thinking about your goals, re-frame to think about why reaching these goals will bring you happiness, and you’ll instantly feel the energy of tapping into what inspires you.