This Childish Mind is playing a Mind Movie all the time, about how our lives should be so comfortable and pleasurable and orderly.
Unfortunately, creating a new habit or dropping an old habit can’t be done without discomfort.
The Mind Movie tells us that changing a habit should be easy and fun, but the reality is that we must wander outside our comfort zone.
And so the Childish Mind rebels.
It throws a tantrum.
PART I: CREATING A HABIT
WEEK 1 FOCUS: A SLOW START
Day 1: Pick one change
Day 2: Create a vow
Day 3: Make it small
Day 4: Create a space
Day 5: Set a trigger & reminder
Day 6: Start easy
WEEK 2 FOCUS: MINDFUL ENJOYMENTS
Day 1: Enjoy the habit
Day 2: Be mindful of your movie
Day 3: Focus on gratitude
Day 4: Practice mindfully
Day 5: Reflect and (optionally) journal
Day 6: Adjust to a 2-minute habit
WEEK 3 FOCUS: OVERCOMING "THE DIP"
Day 1: Notice Your Resistance
Day 2: Flow around missing a day
Day 3: Overcome a motivation slump
Day 4: Practice self-compassion
Day 5: Reflect again, adjust
Day 6: Stay with groundlessness
WEEK 4 FOCUS: RECONNECTING
Day 1: Quit the third time
Day 2: Reconnect with your why
Day 3: Reconnect with the moment
Day 4: Reconnect with gratitude
Day 5: On struggles
Day 6: Don’t waste life
WEEK 5 FOCUS: EMBRACING GROUNDLESSNESS
Day 1: Be curious about groundlessness
Day 2: Practice being with uncertainty
Day 3: Practice being with discomfort
Day 4: See that this is enough
Day 5: Practice letting go & accepting
Day 6: Go through to love
WEEK 6 FOCUS: GRADUALLY CHANGING YOUR LIFE
Day 1: Consider a second habit
Day 2: Gradually change your life
Day 3: Let go of unhelpful changes
Day 4: Adjust & refocus
Day 5: Go into habit maintenance mode
Day 6: Embrace the uncertain path of change
PART II: HABIT TROUBLESHOOTING
MISSED A FEW DAYS & STRUGGLING
Gauge your bandwidth. Assess your focus & commitment. Make a commitment to others. Make a rule: Don’t miss two days in a row. Create accountability. Create a consequence. Make it social.
CAN'T FIND THE TIME
When people say they haven’t had the time to focus on the habit change, what they really mean is they either 1) don’t have the bandwidth, or 2) haven’t made it a priority.
OTHERS AREN'T SUPPORTING ME
Get others on board. Accept others as they are. Set the example. Make changes on your own. Educate with patience. Group challenges.
NOT DOING AS WELL AS I'D HOPED
As you do the habit, be mindful of your attachment to outcomes of this habit, and see if you can focus instead on the intention, on the effort, on enjoying the process.
ACCOUNTABILITY ISN'T WORKING
By creating accountability, we’re creating an environment that helps to keep us on the habit path when our minds begin resisting the path.
FEELING TIRED, STRESSED, OVERWHELMED
First, be aware of the problem. If you’re tired, can you get more rest? Take breaks. Exercise. Get the overwhelm under control. Reduce the inflow. Breathe. Make your task your meditation.
MAKING MISTAKES, GUILT FROM FAILING
See every mistake as an opportunity to learn, a thing that you can get better at, the feedback that’s so crucial for improvement. And smile as you open yourself up to this improvement.
PART III: QUITTING A BAD HABIT
The biggest recommendation is not to take on a quit if you’re still struggling with forming habits. So the first thing you need to do, before you attempt to quit a habit, is track it for three days and try to write down every trigger for the habit.
COME UP WITH REPLACEMENT HABITS
For each trigger and need, write down a positive replacement habit that will meet the same need. Forming these new habits is doable, if as with your previous habits, you take it slowly, take it seriously, and give it your full focus.
GRADUAL CHANGE VS. COLD TURKEY
Gradual method: One version of this method is to gradually cut back on how much you do your old habit — smoke fewer and fewer cigarettes each day, have fewer drinks of alcohol, go on social media fewer times each day.
Cold turkey: This is just stopping completely with the bad habit, with all triggers at once. The benefit is that this can yield faster results, if you are able to fully focus on this and overcoming cravings and urges.
STRUGGLING WITH URGES
Tell yourself you can do this, you’re strong, you got this. And be realistic in that things won’t go as planned, but those are learning opportunities. In the long run, you’re going to make it, because you’re worth it.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FAIL
You will get better and better as you learn from mistakes. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve your habit skills.
PART IV: LIFE STRUGGLES
THE HEART OF OUR STRUGGLES
We struggle with our Mind Movies. We struggle with our feelings. These are both ways of looking at the same thing: we don’t like the actuality of what’s going on, and so we struggle with it. We are causing our own struggle. The good news is that we can let go of the struggle, with practice, and relax into the nature of reality in front of us. This is the beauty of working with our struggles, rather than avoiding them. We can see deeper into reality and uncover the love that’s already there.
RELAXING OUR STRUGGLING
Develop awareness. Set an intention. Invite it to tea. Use gentle curiosity. Relax your struggles. Look without ideals. Merge into the feeling.
SEEING AND WORKING WITH TRUE NATURE
Buddhists say that all of our struggles stem from being confused about the nature of reality. Some things to reflect on about reality: It’s impermanent. We’re not separate. We’re not at the center. It has a basic goodness. It’s beautiful, to be appreciated. We can aspire to love.
COPING WITH LOSS
First, let yourself grieve. Next, turn mindfully toward your grief. Instead of resisting the impermanence, if we can accept and embrace it, let go of our ideal of what we want life to be, perhaps we’ll struggle less.
COPING WITH LIFE CHANGES
See the groundlessness, invite it to tea. Explore with curiosity. Relax your struggles. Merge into the feeling. Embrace the impermanence. See the basic goodness.
DEALING WITH FRUSTRATIONS WITH OTHERS
“The other person is never the problem.” However, while we can’t control the other person’s actions … we can change our own reaction. This doesn’t mean we ignore the other person’s behavior or don’t address the situation in front of us. It just means that we respond appropriately, out of a desire to make things better rather than out of anger or frustration, or from a desire to teach the other person a lesson or show that we’re right. We always respond better when we remove the anger, and respond calmly.
COPING WITH RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
You invite the frustration/groundlessness to tea, be curious with it, get intimate with it, relax your struggle.
DEALING WITH UNHAPPINESS WITH OURSELVES
radical acceptance is "... accepting our human existence and all of life as it is. Imperfection is not our personal problem — it is a natural part of existing."
UNCERTAINTY ABOUT LIFE'S PATH
Recognize that you’re trying to find certainty. See the basic goodness. Find your basic intention to do good. Take a step toward that intention. Be curious. Embrace the change. Practice in small doses. Reflect, and develop trust.
SIMPLE PLAN TO CREATE NEW HABITS
To create a new habit, follow these steps for about six weeks: Pick one new, easy habit that you can do once a day: Don’t start right away: Create a vow: Create a space: Set a trigger & reminder: Start with a Minimum Viable Habit: Focus on enjoying the habit: Practice mindfulness: Watch your Mind Movie: Reflect and journal: A daily practice: Increase gradually:
PRACTICE WITH RESISTANCE & GROUNDLESSNESS
Notice your resistance: Quit the third time: Be curious: Relax the struggle: Reconnect with your why: Practice being OK in groundlessness:
CREATE GRADUAL LIFE CHANGE
Consider a second habit: The Slow Change method: Let go of unhelpful changes: Reflect & adjust: Go into habit maintenance mode: Start your second habit with an adjusted method: Embrace the uncertain path of change:
QUITTING A BAD HABIT
Don’t attempt a quit until several successful new habit changes: Track your habit: List your triggers: List your needs: Come up with replacement habits: Use techniques you’ve learned: Gradual change vs. cold turkey: Struggling with urges: Form the right mindset: When you fail:
DEAL WITH LIFE'S DIFFICULTIES
We all struggle: We struggle with our Mind Movies. We struggle with our feelings. See the groundlessness, invite it to tea. Use gentle curiosity. Relax your struggles. Look without ideals. Merge into the feeling. Embrace the impermanence. See the basic goodness.