Forming a Habit
This training course involves incorporating certain activities into a daily practice. At this point, you have been encouraged to do the following things at least once a day:
- Mindfulness meditation for 10 to 20 minutes
- List five things for which you are grateful in your gratitude journal
- Focus on something for which you are ungrateful and note all of the aspects of it for which you are grateful.
While none of these activities are particularly difficult or time consuming, remembering to take time out of your busy day for them can be difficult. In order to do anything with regularity, we must make the activity into a habit. Here are some pointers on how to form habitual behavior:
- Use a reminder. For example, after you brush your teeth at night, use this as a cue to signal that it’s time to meditate, or use the beginning of your workday before (or after) you clock in to act as a cue to list five things you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal.
- Have a routine. Try to write in your gratitude journal or meditate at the same time every day.
- Reward yourself. Although developing mindfulness or a cumulative sense of gratitude are their own rewards, the act of setting up a specific reward helps to divide a large task into many small tasks. For example, for after a week of successively meditating, pick a small reward for yourself.
- Doing something consistently becomes automatic over time, but that time can vary between 18 and 254 days to do so. The average amount of time to make a habit automatic is around two months.
- If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Take note however why you missed it as well as any strategies to counteract whatever caused you to miss it. Be aware that a change in routine can disrupt habitual behavior and may require the development of a new reminder and routine.