Habits – we all have them, but some are very obvious to us, whilst others can go undetected for some time. What do I mean by that rather strange comment? Well, there are the obvious habits, like the time we go to bed and get up in the morning. We might not go to bed the same time every night, but if we observe what we normally do for a week it is easy to tell that we are usually an early or a late to bed person; ditto the mornings and so on. We might clean our house regularly, a habit, or leave it until chaos descends and a full on weekend of cleaning ensues until the house is visitable/habitable/hygeinic (delete as appropriate!), again this is a habit.
But there are other habits that are less easily detected, for example, our thoughts and emotions probably follow a very well-trodden path, we ruminate on things and act from reflex rather than consciously in many of our day to day activities. This isn’t a criticism, it is part of being human. But waking up and noticing the urge to do one thing rather than another, or to respond negatively rather than positively to a situation we face is very freeing. Suddenly the blinkers are off and there is a whole world outside our trodden paths of habitual thought. Of course we might fall onto the path again, very quickly afterwards, but the moment of freedom is still there and we can access it at any time. It requires mindfulness and awareness.
So, my habits in the past? Being frightened of my inbox, letting emails pile up in a higher and higher virtual column until it was too big a job to bear to look at them. The solution? Not sitting down for a week to clear them, only for the same problem to reoccur again and again (believe me, I tried that), but rather to follow some advice on Zen Habits, dump all the old emails in a ‘to do’ folder, clear my incoming emails everyday, and going through 20 emails a day from the ‘to do’ folder. Result? A nice clean inbox, and less than half the emails left in the ‘to do’ folder after only 6-7 weeks.
Is this joyous? It is to me! At last this new habit, a simple approach, has seen my working day change dramatically and a sense of achievement has replaced the old panic, stuck in the mud, overwhelmed attitude to email. You really can find joy everywhere!