When You Drop a Good Habit

My apartment’s a bit of a mess right now. The floors need sweeping. The furniture needs dusting. The windows could do with a clean.

As I wrote about here, I had been cleaning twenty minutes a day and it was really working well. But then I kind of forgot. As I forget a lot of the good habits I want to adopt. Eating better, walking more, writing every day. I go along for awhile and then, ooops, forget to do the good things that bring me so much joy.

And I’ve always felt really bad about myself when that happens. And like any ground that I’ve gained has been lost and I have to start from scratch and really, what’s the point?

But I guess the therapy’s working, because this time, when I remembered my daily cleaning habit, I realized that I could just, like, pick up where I’d left off and how cool is that? I don’t need to repent. I don’t need to make up for all the days I’ve missed by launching a monster four-hour cleaning blitz. I can just, you know, clean for twenty minutes.

And what’ll likely happen is I’ll do twenty minutes today and twenty minutes tomorrow. And maybe another day or two and the place will look really nice. And then I’ll get busy. And forget. And then I’ll remember again.

It’s like when you’re meditating and realize that you’ve lost focus and your mind is chasing thoughts. They tell you bring your focus back on the next breath. And then you do that the next time you notice your mind wandering. And the next and the next. They don’t tell you to reset the timer whenever your mind wanders. Just bring your focus back on the next breath.

It’s gentle. It’s kind.

And that’s what I think a good habit should be. Something that gently and kindly makes your life a little better. A little easier. A little more joyful.

Some of the habits we take up are about reaching a goal. We want to lose weight or run a marathon or write a novel. And forgetting about those habits will mean we’ve lost some ground, especially if we’ve added a deadline to the goal, like writing that novel in a month or losing twenty pounds by the time we head for the cottage. And if you’ve gotten off track with that, yes, you will have lost some ground. But you still don’t need to feel bad about yourself for it. With your next breath, refocus your attention and maybe adjust your goal. Ten pounds by cottage season. A thousand words a day until the novel is done.

Keep it kind, keep it gentle.

I think it’s important to remember¬† (and easy to forget) who we’re setting these goals for. We give our goals and the habits we need to reach them such importance that we can forget that those goals? Belong to us. They’re there to serve us and if we let a habit slide, we’ve not betrayed our goal and we’ve not let anyone down. We’ve merely let it slide and if we’ve done that, if we’ve set aside a habit, one that has served us well, on our next breath, we can simply pick it up again and allow it to serve us some more.

Be gentle with yourselves, lovelies. Be kind.

 

 

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