Tag Archives: monotonous

Transform Your Habitual Thoughts

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

What time did you wake up this morning? Was it the same or close to the same time you woke up yesterday? Did you need to set your alarm, or do you automatically wake up at about the same time every morning?

What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Was it the same or similar to what you ate for breakfast yesterday and the day before? How about your lunches? Are they close or similar to the same things you eat most days?

What time did you go to bed last night? Was it about the same or similar to the same time you usually go to bed?

How about your wardrobe? Do you wear the same or similar things for work, for play, and for leisure time activities?

None of this is surprising or unusual. We are creatures of habit. And for very good reasons. It is easier to do the same things, eat the same things and follow the same habits repeatedly. Just take a moment and imagine that everything you do, eat, and arrange all day long and each day is a brand new creation. You would be exhausted before the middle of the day!

thinkingwoman

However repeating the same things over and over again can become monotonous and boring. Every once in awhile it’s refreshing and helpful to change some things, like your usual diet or your usual bedtime or your usual route to work. This change can enliven us, wake us up and add some much needed sparkle to our habitual routine lives.

Would you be surprised to learn that your thoughts and thinking patterns are also in this same kind of habit, rut and routine? Whether you are conscious of it or not, chances are very good that you think the same thing every morning upon awakening. Whether your habitual thought is Ugh, morning came too soon today. When is the next time I can get some more sleep? or Good Morning! Today is the start of another glorious day. I wonder what great adventures await me it is more than likely that these are the same things you say to yourself every day.

The same is true when you receive good news or receive an unexpected bill in the mail. Your thoughts of appreciation, gratitude or grumblings and complaints are also well ingrained habitual thoughts.

Did you know that you have the magical powers to change your level of Mental Health & Happiness simply by cultivating new, happier and healthier thoughts and thinking patterns? The same way you can change your diet, your bedtime or your wardrobe, you can also change what you say and think to yourself. However, this is much easier said than done.

Try this experiment. Change the placement of your kitchen garbage container. Keep the new placement until you can throw garbage away without going to the old place and can now automatically go to the new place. Keep track of how many days this takes. William James, founder of modern psychology postulated that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Try your own experiment to see if that is true for you.

Now conduct another experiment. Change one habitual thought during your day. It could be your grumblings of complaints about the other inconsiderate and incompetent drivers on the road, or you internal accusations about your lazy co-workers, or your impatience with your dawdling child. You must first be aware of the habitual thought that you think. Now compose what thought or statement you want to make instead.

Here are some examples:

Transform: Get your blinker fixed you idiot driver

Into: We all drive cooperatively to get to our destinations safely 

Transform: For once could you do your job instead of leaving it for the rest of us to complete.

Into: I do my work with an open heart and willingness to serve. I appreciate my co-workers who are doing the same.

Transform: Get a move on kiddo so you don’t make me late again.

Into: We have all the time in the world and will each arrive safely with time to spare. 

Remember though, for improved Mental Health & Happiness you must practice your new thought or statement for a minimum of 21 days (or longer) before it becomes automatic and habitual.

Transforming you habitual thoughts will transform you Mental Health & Happiness!

Routines: A Comfort and Mind-Numbing

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Presently my life is undergoing a complete change. I feel as though I’m living in a snow globe that has been turned upside-down. Much is getting turned upright again, but the snow is still swirling about me attempting to settle into new patterns and routines. I’m about to start a new job and move into a new home. As a result my everyday routines are now completely altered and upended.

What are your daily patterns and routines? Do you go to bed about the same time every night? Is your morning ritual consistent? Chances are your answer is “yes.” We humans tend to create then follow the same routines and rituals in many aspects of our lives. These routines and habits help us to meet our need for safety and security, the psychological component of the basic need for survival. And these habits allow our brain to go on automatic so we don’t have to spend a lot of focused energy making a thoughtful choice at every turn during our days.

For instance there are probably many more habits and routines in your life than you are even aware of. Ever take a class and discover that the same students sit in the same seats week after week? This same pattern is evident at church or temple services, company trainings, meeting and workshops, and other similar times and places where the same people gather in the same places on more than one occasion. Choosing the same seat without making any kind of a conscious thought about this decision is what most people do to feel safer and more secure.

You probably park in the same general area when you visit your usual grocery store. Both the store and the parking spot is a habit you developed that saves you time and energy. You probably travel the same route and roads to and from your job. It is very rare that you consult a map or choose a different route unless some new construction is slowing down your travel.

At the same time these habits and routines help you meet your need for safety and security, they can become tedious and monotonous. In fact the joy and delight of taking a vacation or trip is the opportunity for a great adventure. Now you must get out of your routines and habits. During these times you actually are more alert, awake and fully  present in your “now” because you have to be. You are taking new roads, choosing new seats in new restaurants and theaters. You can’t allow your mind to click into auto pilot. Since everything is new your full attention is required.

But having everything new for too long a period of time can become overwhelming and stressful. I am in this very spot now. I’m craving the mundane, routine and habitual. And I’m fully confident that a month from now I will have found the rhythm in my new job. It may take a bit longer to get unpacked and settled in my new home. But I trust my desire for safety and security will lead me to eventually create the home where I feel settled and safe.

If your Mental health & Happiness is not at a pleasing or satisfying level for you give one of these alternatives a try for improvement:

  • Create more regular routines and habits. Just as following the same patterns and rituals can help settle and calm a baby, the same can happen for you. It is routines, habits and regular patterns that can help meet your need for safety and security. Emphasize these habits now to see if that improves your feelings of safety and security leading to improved Mental Health & Happiness
  • Change your regular habits and routines. If you always travel the same route to and from work, go a different way. If you always shop at the same grocery store, visit the same library, regularly eat at your favorite restaurant, go in search of a new grocery store (perhaps of a different ethnicity) visit a local independently owned book store instead of your library, and go in search of one more restaurants to become your next favorite. Or go on vacation, someplace you have never been before! It may just be time to get out of your comfort zone, stretch your feelings of safety and security, expand your adventures to meet your need for fun and learning! See if this improves your level of satisfaction and Mental Health & Happiness.