By Leo Babauta
Every day, we go through a set of actions that is training our minds in the long term.
Sometimes weâ€™re training intentionally: we meditate, practice focus, get ourselves to start a workout, resist temptations, etc.
Mostly, though, weâ€™re training unintentionally: when you press snooze on the alarm clock, look at social media for 30 minutes, beat yourself up for something youâ€™re not doing â€¦ these are probably things youâ€™ve already trained yourself to do, and youâ€™re reinforcing them each time you do them.
Iâ€™m not pointing this out to make anyone feel bad â€” this isnâ€™t about making ourselves wrong for how weâ€™re training ourselves. Goodness knows we do that enough.
Iâ€™m pointing this out because it gives us an opportunity â€” we can put awareness and intentionality into what weâ€™re training, every day. This can change how we do everything, which can create a different way weâ€™re showing up for our lives, and a different set of results.
- If I wake up and check messages and social media â€¦ would I like to spend that time in meditation and journaling instead? Or perhaps create a planning session and stretching to start my day?
- If I take breaks by watching videos, would I like to spend those breaks going for brief walks and stretching instead? Or reading a book if Iâ€™ve been meaning to read more?
- If I go about my daily tasks by constantly switching between tasks and multiple distractions â€¦ would I like to train myself to enjoy singular focus instead?
- If I toss my clothes on the ground after I take them off to shower or change â€¦ would I like to place them where they belong, and start to take care of my life?
- If I rush through everything as if I canâ€™t wait to be done with it all â€¦ would I like to spend more time actually caring about each task and activity, giving it my full attention?
- If I treat people as annoying interruptions from my work â€¦ would I like instead to turn towards them with full attention and love?
- If I stew in frustration about what someone else said or did â€¦ would I like to take care of my emotions and see the light in the other person instead?
- If I put off my most meaningful tasks and projects for busywork â€¦ would I like to prioritize them and find the structure that will actually help me turn towards those tasks?
- If I eat mindlessly whenever Iâ€™m stressed â€¦ would I like to bring compassion to my stress instead, and eat slowly and mindfully and joyfully?
- If I treat my workouts like a chore to be put off or rushed through â€¦ would I like instead to treat them as sacred sessions to take care of my miracle of a body, and to bring joyful health into my life?
- If I’m judgmental about others … would I like to bring curiosity and compassion instead?
- If I complain about the world around us (including ourselves) … would I instead like to find gratitude for the miracle of life?
You can see that this is an opportunity to shift everything we do â€¦ and more importantly, shift how we do everything.
It takes a great degree of awareness of what weâ€™re doing and how weâ€™re doing it, but itâ€™s an awareness we can develop with intention and practice. Which is exactly how we train something new: intention and practice.
What would you like to train in this moment?