What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? What’d you do after that? How about after that? Were your thoughts and responses generally positive or negative? Resilient or stuck? How about yesterday? Last Friday?
I’m guessing your actions, like mine, (woke up, brushed teeth, took a shower, had coffee, checked emails…) were more or less the same. I’m also guessing your thoughts and responses had a quality of sameness.
James Clear defines habits as the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. “According to researchers at Duke University,” he writes, “habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. What you spend time thinking about and doing each day ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.”
“Your life today,” he says, “is essentially the sum of your habits. How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits. How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits. How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.”
I like to think of thoughts and behaviors as grooves on a vinyl record. The more you play the record, the deeper the grooves. Sometimes the needle on the turntable gets stuck and repeats the same phrase over and over. But we all know that the record we repeatedly choose to play sets the tempo for our lives.
What’s, ahem, groovy about all this is that our brains never stop forming. Whether we’re in our 20’s or 80’s, we can literally alter the grooves in our brains through the songs (thoughts and behaviors) and artists (people we hang out with) we choose to play. What’s just as groovy is that, according to Richard J. Davidson and other scientists who study neuroplasticity, mindfulness is the primary tool in unsticking that needle and promoting personal and global well-being.
So how are you picking your groove? What are you playing and who are you listening to? Is the needle on your turntable stuck? How might a mindfulness practice help set the tempo for your life?