Ok, back-to-back weeks with Ben Franklin quotes: “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Life is so full of our habits. Our habits begin as soon as we arise in the morning and go to sleep in the evening. This is not a bad thing unless the habits are the bad habits. I had a student ask me once, “Mr. Brown, do you think our bad habits help us in any way?” Man, great question. I thought about it and came up with a really short answer, “No.”
Have you noticed that every new day allows you to get off to a brand new beginning? In other words, a new day is a fresh moment and a clear chance for us to make the very best of a brand new day!
One of the best things I've learned about life, is that we can train our minds to make the best of any present situation as it unfolds.
I often remind myself that my mind is like a muscle in my body, which needs to be exercised in order to gain strength. Years ago, I noticed how easily I could crumble and fall apart when things in my life went wrong. I'll be honest, I didn't like when this would happen. I told myself one day, “Michael, if you don't push your mind in thousands of little, positive ways over time, your mind will crumble on the one day things get overwhelmingly stressful.” As a result, I began to exercise my mind with daily affirmations, I like to call them high-fives! You see, a mind well trained with positive affirmations has the right thoughts ready for retrieval at a moment's notice.
Ok my friends, It's time for a workout!
Here are four really cool exercises for your mind.
1. Choose Small Habits
When it comes to creating good habits, I’m a big fan of “bit by bit.”
Make your habits easy to do and something that you can accomplish every day, because habits that are completed successfully and frequently influence our minds quickly.
Let me give you an example, I was in the bad habit of telling myself how stupid I was when I would make a mistake at something. One day, I had had enough of bashing myself. So, I chose to do something about it. I tried a little experiment. At the end of the day, I would take 60 seconds and write down all the good things that I had done that day and all the wrong things I had done that day. When I was finished with my list the score was 10 good things and one mistake. Wow! That's pretty darn good! I did this simple exercise for 7 days in a row. After day 7, I had developed the very good habit of not bashing myself and kind of giving myself a high five at the end of the day!
2. Make It Visible
You may have heard of the saying, “Out of sight out of mind”. There's a lot of truth to that saying. I like to make my good habits visible. When I do this and I'm able to check off a box showing that I have accomplished something it tends to make what I'm doing more real.
Let me give you an example. I value good health. I try to exercise each day. My exercise habits are small, but my results are pretty good! I recently turned 60 years old and every day I try to give my body a little workout. What is visible for me? I have an Apple Watch that has exercise checkmarks and reminders which tell me if I'm moving in the right direction physically or not. This really helps me!
3. Join A Tribe
Years ago, I heard that “birds of a feather really do flock together”. I've learned that when I surround myself with people who act in a certain way, I'm more likely to act that way.
Here’s an example. I really wanted to improve my public speaking ability many years ago. So, I joined a public speaking group which would gather once a week and we would practice our public speaking skills with each other. It was a fun time hanging out with this group, and we all worked together on growing our public speaking skills. This “tribe” noticed that our public speaking skills greatly improved!
4. Make The Wrong Behavior Difficult
A few years ago, I had a student tell me how they had their parents change their passwords to their social media accounts when the student would come home from school to work on their homework. The parents would give the new password to their child when they showed that the homework was finished. What's really cool, is this was not the parent’s idea, this was the student’s idea! Sometimes, removing a negative behavior can do more for our identity than adding a positive habit.