How to Change Your Life

fork-in-road-44Most of the activities in our life are a series of repetitive tasks. Look at what you do every day and realize that you are repeating the same things over and over again. Specific tasks may change on a daily basis, but if you look at them over a week they remain constant. From laundry and cleaning to eating and personal hygiene, the general activities we undertake define the life that we lead.

Our thoughts can follow the same pattern as our actions. Every day, most of our thoughts are the same as yesterday. In particular, thoughts that cause us anguish and despair tend to surface regularly. We find ourselves in a rut, unable to stop thinking about things that have gone wrong, or desires that are unfulfilled.

Understanding the repetitive nature of our life, it is easy to see how we can fail to progress. If the things that you think about regularly are not guiding you towards an ideal, then they tend to keep you where you are. Often, we create the very things that we wish to avoid. If you are not happy with your current situation, is it any wonder that staying in the same frame of mind can become tedious and depressing?

How does one begin the process of change? It is easy to identify the habits and thoughts that rule your life. However, when we try to change we find ourselves falling back habitually into the same repetitive actions and thoughts. It is almost like playing back a video and hoping that the movie has a different ending.

change-aheadIt is important to focus not on changing the old but creating the new.

Design your new life and then live by it. Choose something that you are going to do every day and then do it. Make it your utmost priority to repeat the same action daily and suddenly you will find that your chosen activity has become part of your life. Whether your self-improvement is on a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level, adding positive activities to your daily routine assists in changing your environment.

In the science of psychology, there is a practice called behavioral modification. Based on the theory that all behavior is learned, the patterns that we follow are the result of either reward or internal conflict. Some behavior is the response to stimuli, a regular reaction that we experience following a common event. Other behavior is based upon expectation of consequence. Some consequences are good, resulting in reinforcement of the behavior. Other consequences are undesirable, resulting in avoidance of a certain behavior or replacement with action that removes the negative consequence.

10-Hardest-Life-Fish-BowlSelf-modification of behavioral patterns works best when we learn and reinforce new behaviors rather than suppressing or punishing unwanted ones. By focusing our energy on what we want to be, instead of what we don’t want to be, we allow ourselves to move into the new pattern. By changing the stimuli, or by altering the consequences, we can train ourselves to look and live in a new direction.

The first step in modifying your own behavior is to gather baseline data. Observe and understand your current behavioral patterns before beginning any adjustments. The stage of awareness and recording assists transformation in two ways. Firstly, it provides a pattern for comparative measurement. Without knowing your own behavior in detail, how can you identify if any change has taken place? Secondly, the act of creating a baseline makes us more observant of our behavior and may help identify root causes. Knowing the root of your issues can make it much easier to correct them.

Are there things in your life that you want to change? Begin to identify them, and document the behavior that causes the undesired outcome. Choose to begin the first step towards changing your self and your life.

Transformation Exercises

1. Carry a notebook for few days, and list everything that you do. Pay attention to your physical actions, what you ingest, how you feel, what you say, and how you react to situations.
2. As your lists progress, identify repetitive behavior.
3. Identify personal habits that you like.
4. Identify personal habits that you would like to alter.

Excerpted from Soulwork 101: A New Age Guide to Personal Transformation by Glenn Stewart Coles
©Copyright 2009, 2015 Glenn Stewart Coles

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