Life is a Succession of Habits

“Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits.” – Samuel Beckett
“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.” – Mark Twain
Congratulations! If you are continuing to read these posts, you are displaying great persistence … and patience! Joining our community and reading this journal, indicates you are keeping an open and curious mind and giving yourself a chance to learn new skills in habit modification that can improve your life and the lives of the people you care about.
Samuel Beckett hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said, “life is a succession of habits.” Habits, in this context, we believe include both behavioral as well as emotional and habits of thought.
We are going to focus on habits in the next few posts, because they create at least half the foundation of each of our lives. If you want to make any changes in your life, you will have to modify the habits that are contributing to any aspects you want to change.
Is your life as good as it could be?
Of course, you may not have any desire to change anything in your life. Only you can decide that. However, just to prod your self-introspection a little, ask yourself? “Is my life as good as it could be?”
There, are many answers to this question, including: ‘Yes’, ‘No, but nearly’, ‘No, but it’s good enough’, ‘No, it’s far from perfect’ or ‘No, it’s a mess’.
This would be a good time to review your responses to the two exercises we suggested in our earlier post. If you haven’t completed these exercises it’s OK, of course, its your life. However, your answers may help you answer the question above: “Is my life as good as it could be?”
You may be wondering, where is all this leading? That would be a wise question!
Our purpose in writing these posts is to provide insight and strategies on how to enhance the quality of your life, primarily as you approach or are in the non-job phase of life. However, they can also be applied at any stage of life, post childhood. To make any changes in your life requires, as stated above, changing the habits upon which your life is currently and firmly based.
If you have ever tried and succeeded, or not so much, to lose weight, to get a full eight hours of sleep a night, reduce the amount of time you spend watching television or on your digital device, etc. you realize how hard it is. And if you have every had to deal with a life-threatening or ruining addiction, personally or with a friend or family member, such as smoking, alcohol, street or even medically-prescribed drugs, no one has to remind you how challenging it is or was! All of the above behaviour patterns are actually based on acquired habits, mental, emotional and behavioral, and genetic pre-dispositions often reinforced by chemical and/or hormonal dependencies.
To change your life, change your habits
To put it another way, to change any aspect of one’s life, even a destructive addiction, the habits upon which any particular behaviour pattern is based have to be changed or modified.
There’s no point in just providing a bunch of great tips and well researched information here on how to enhance your “golden” years and leave it at that. We all receive literally hundreds or more of these a day from all directions, television, social media, magazines and other print media, well-meaning friends and family, etc. What we will do in the upcoming posts and other supportive services on EldersThrive.com, is to provide logical, well-researched strategies and support for changing unwanted habits or creating new habits to enhance life, based on similar approaches recommended and used by many addiction recovery experts.
After all, we are all addicted to our current lives. Let’s just make sure our lives are based on positive, healthy habits and not destructive or even non-helpful, time-wasting ones! Time is all we have, and there is less of it left each day. I hope we can all learn to make the most of it! And have some fun while we are at it!
In upcoming posts we will outline some power habit modification strategies based on a consolidation of at least four different behavioral change models. The models upon which our habit changing strategies are based includes:
The 12 step program by Alcoholics Anonymous.
‘The Stages of Change Model of Overcoming Addiction,’ by E. Hartney
‘Atomic Habits, An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,’ by J. Clear.
‘Tools for creating habits aligned with your values,’ by T. Robbins
We’ll use the Overcoming Addition Model stages as our main road map in our journey to discover ways to alter, remove or adopt habits. The Overcoming Addition Model is represented as a cycle and its suggested that you go through its stages in sequence. In reality, people often jump about between stages and can even be in more than one stage at a time.
The first stage, the precontemplation stage, is the Denial Stage. If you are in this stage, you likely do not believe your habit is a problem or may not even realize that it is a habit or addiction. Perhaps you have not yet experienced any negative consequences of the habit, or if you have you have, you’ve made excuses or blamed the results on something or someone else.
Usually when in the Denial Stage we are not interested in hearing about any negative consequences or advice about changing or quitting the habit or addiction. The habit appears to have become a good and faithful friend that makes us feel better and helps us cope with the stresses and strains of life.
We Can Get Stuck in Denial
Unfortunately, we can remain stuck in the Denial Stage for years, unless something dramatic happens to make us more aware of the consequences and weaken or break through the denial. It might be our weight scale or medical diagnose from our doctor or another red flag that may be what it takes to make a decision to acknowledge and change a harmful habit. Most of us are in varying stages of denial about some habits that are hurting or, at least, not helping us, lead the best lives we otherwise could.
Caution: Any information shared here is not intended to be medical or counselling advise or treatment for any addiction. We use the addictions model to illustrate strategies for recognizing and modifying personal habits, because of its potential effectiveness. However, if you, or anyone in your family or who you care about, is dealing with a chemical addiction, it is important you or they receive professional guidance and treatment.
In our next post, we outline the second stage, Contemplation, or the Awareness Stage, and the tremendous opportunity it provides for changing habits, and for personal growth and renewal!
What are some habits you have changed? How did you do it?
Please share your comments, questions and suggestions in our Caring Connections forum under the Mind category, about your experiences with habits. By doing so, you can help encourage other Thrivers to examine their habits and change the ones that are not doing them any good..
You can also tag your comments ‘Habits’
To go to Caring Connections, click on the button below:
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