482: New Habits

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Many people are dissatisfied with some part of their life. That’s pretty universal, since life has so many compartments: physical, spiritual, financial, occupational, familial, emotional, and every one of those compartments has multiple occupants, all of which can run smoothly, or gum up the works.

In the process of living our lives, we humans are often like water. We choose the easiest path (the path of least resistance) to find our way down an incline. What this translates to in daily life is that we establish easy routines to deal with most things, and they become habits over time with repetition. They start to feel natural and normal with the familiarity, even if they are not natural and normal. It happens this way even when our established habits are actually unhealthy for us, or harmful to us.

All of us struggle with habits, but who would knowingly establish a habit that harms them? Well – that appears obvious, but people do it every day.  We choose to take a drink because we are bored, or because something is uncomfortable that we’d rather not think about and deal with. Repeatedly choosing that option leads us to a dependency on alcohol (or drugs, or food, or sex, or the Internet, or gambling, or shopping, or fill-in-the-blank with your own addictive, escapist behavior) and the poor choice is now a habit that feels natural and normal to you, even though it is anything BUT. The problem with addictive, escapist behaviors is that they are never, ever satisfied with the compartment of your life that they started out in. They do take control of that compartment, yes – and then they cast a proprietary eye on the compartment next door, and the one after that, and the one after that, until they pretty much take over everything.  Every stinking, little, tiny thing.

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This is why people who don’t see (and heed) the warning signs when a habit is still small enough to be uprooted, before its roots are so massive that digging it out uproots the rest of the garden, too – this is why those people speak of hitting absolute rock bottom. It takes that ultimate comeuppance (rock bottom) at that point, to make a change. When there are no more excuses, when you have pretty much lost everything that mattered to you, when there is nothing that is left of any value or worth, making a change isn’t such a bad thing. It is the only thing left.

You can’t dig yourself out of a hole. When you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING. Make a change. You can’t expect different results when you continue to make the same choices. Start something new, and be sure it is something positive, and do it one day at a time, until you are no longer in a hole.

When will you be out of the hole? You will know. Just be sure you don’t start digging again.

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226: Run of Bad Luck

I always think that things go fairly well for people who are trying very hard to do the right things and live lives that do not harm others. I think that when things don’t go well, it means you have not been doing the right things. You need to search and see where you need to improve. Now, I know that is not true in every case – of course it isn’t. However, for me, usually when things don’t go well it actually is something I’ve done or contributed to – not every time, true, but usually…..

I think there is the big guy sitting up there in Heaven, looking down on us creatures who are mostly making mistakes with our lives, decisions and actions, and I think usually he lets the natural consequences of our foolish actions just….happen. Sometimes, for reasons I don’t understand, he does intervene – on both the good and the not-so-good side of things. Sometimes he lets things happen because we need to learn that it is not smart to fool with Mother Nature: don’t poke sticks at grizzly bears. Dumb ways to die.

Sometimes he steps in and saves us because there are still things we are supposed to do with our lives. I woke up on the beach getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a total stranger when I was about eight years old, after I had been sucked under by an undertow at the Bahia Honda bridge on the Florida Keys. I still don’t know who the man was who saved me, but I owe him a lifetime of gratitude that I did not die that day. I don’t think I even said ‘thank you’ when I came to!

At any rate, my recent run of poor luck leaves me some reflective opportunity about my recent motivations – whether I have been working for the good or for other nefarious purposes. Have I fallen short somewhere?