The way your life is now is a product of the choices you’ve made and the habits you’ve adopted in the past. You can’t change past decisions but you can make new choices. Old habits can be broken and new ones established if you discover that they no longer serve you well. Here are some ways to make your life better by breaking an old habit or two and changing some old beliefs.
A belief is simply a way of thinking that has become a habit. As we grow up, we form certain beliefs about the world around us and how life works. Some of our beliefs are those of our parents and some come from other influential people in our lives like teachers, ministers and peers. Sometimes we form our own beliefs from observing what goes on around us. Children tend not to question the beliefs they take on board and it’s not until we are older that we might realize that some of our beliefs don’t fit.
I’m sure you can probably come up with a few beliefs that no longer fit your life but here are a few of mine. “Behave yourself, get a good education and you’ll be set for life.” “Get yourself a job and stay there for your whole working life.” “We’ve always had doctors in our family so you must study medicine.” “Life’s hard.” “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” “Struggling through life is good for your soul.” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “Don’t make waves.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Now, none of this are necessarily bad, unless we allow these ingrained beliefs to affect how we live life. Did I really believe the more struggle I faced in life, the better life was? Actually, yes I did, until I couldn’t cope any more and almost had an emotional breakdown. This came as a huge shock; I mean, my parents had instilled this belief into me since I was a child. How could they have got it so wrong?
The truth is, our parents and teachers didn’t necessarily get it wrong. They taught us what they believed; guess where they got their beliefs from? So, the same, possibly out-dated, beliefs have been handed down through the generations and unless someone questions them, they continue to get passed on. If your life isn’t going the way you want it to, maybe some of your beliefs and habits are holding you back.
The time has come to examine your beliefs and values and see if they fit your life now. Just because your parents have or had certain beliefs doesn’t mean that you need to hang on to them now that you have the ability to think for yourself. That doesn’t mean they were wrong; it just means that their beliefs were right for them but it doesn’t mean they are right for you anymore.
What are your beliefs about success, relationships, work, religion, politics, international affairs, bringing up children, parenting teenagers and life in general? How do they fit with the life you want to lead? Do you need to make some adjustments? This process is going to take time so don’t rush it. Try a new belief on for size before you decide to make it your own.
How about some habits that you need to shed or alter? Do you have any of those? I know I did and still do; this process of making your life better seems to be a lifelong affair, as I guess it should be. The moment you have arrived should be the moment you leave this earth.
One of the habits that I addressed, when I realized that it was affecting my life adversely, was how I dealt with mornings. I had a habit of sleeping through alarms; I mean, I’d set three alarms around the bedroom but still roll over for ‘just another couple of minutes’. I realized that this was affecting my attitude to the day from the very moment I stirred. I greeted every day with a groan and then was really rushed; that’s not a good start! The way I broke this habit was a bit drastic but nothing else seemed to work. If I wasn’t out of bed by the time the third alarm went off, I set the clocks for fifteen minutes earlier the next day. If I wasn’t up by the third alarm on that day, the clocks were set another fifteen minutes earlier again. The day I set the alarms for 4.15 am for a 7.00 am start, was the day I broke the habit! I now get up at 6.45 am, usually before the single alarm clock sounds, and spend fifteen minutes in quiet contemplation. I am able to start the day calmly, all fresh and raring to go.
What old habits and beliefs are holding your life back? Maybe you believe that success is only for a select few; or you need a big house and flashy cars to be happy; or you have to be lucky to get on in life; or that’s how it’s meant to be done; or maybe your boring job has just become a habit. Are you in the habit of putting yourself down; of automatically saying “I can’t” when a difficulty comes up; or trying to be something you’re not, so people will like you; or allowing someone else to determine your dreams; or maybe you tend to quit when the going gets a bit tough? Do you always settle for less; do you put it off until tomorrow; are you waiting for something good to happen?
Making changes to your habits and beliefs isn’t going to be easy but if you are determined to make yourself a better life, you will find the strength to stick with it. Do yourself a favor and examine your beliefs, change an old habit or two and enjoy the life you want to live.