To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Monday, May 01, 2006

Tao of Forming Good Habits

Last month I unwittingly took on a 30 Day Challenge. Very successfully too, I am glad to report. With minimal effort (in fact no effort - it takes NO effort to NOT do something) I reduced my counter-productive hedonistic tendencies to my new rule of

'Never more than three drinks a night,
Never more than two nights a week,
Never smoke anything at all.'*

Now I have found another blog that incorporates the 30 day challenge idea into a 12 month framework. I like it. 12 new positive habits, one new habit a month.

The reason this appeals to me is because I have an issue with becoming overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of my ambitions. It's not that these ambitions turn me into a workaholic or anything (far from it! I belong firmly to the Lazy Way school of success). The overwhelming feelings come from not knowing what to do next when I am not feeling inspired. Sometimes I am so inspired that it takes no effort at all to know what to do next but when I am feeling uninspired I lose motivation – and clarity of vision. I have been aware for a while now that I need to get over my addiction to inspiration and learn to keep being reasonably effective during my motivational down time.

And the key to all of this is that I need to simplify. And the best way to simplify is to reduce the factors. I already (loosely) follow a Five Things a Day system. This helps me to focus on the few things that will move me forward the furthest with the least effort, and it helps me to avoid getting bogged down in a quagmire of minute details. This works very well (when I stick to it) but now I am going to introduce the 12 x 30 (ish) day challenges. One new good habit a month.

To paraphrase people who were quoting other people, apparently it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. I did it successfully in about that time with the drinking less thing; by the time twenty days were up I was in no way struggling with the concept at all.

And it has stuck – last night I enjoyed an evening listening to old rock n’ roll records and chatting with my girlfriend’s workmates, all of whom were quaffing and puffing away like Billy-o, yet I felt no compulsion to either smoke or to have more than three beers. Done. Too easy. Next.

I know what my next thirty day challenge is going to be: I am going to make sure to read my goals and affirmations aloud to myself every morning. I have them all written down – and I SOMETIMES read over them – but for some reason I have struggled to make it a habit. Maybe because I am an intensely private person and feel squeamish about my family seeing me do this, maybe because my Inner Fool is afraid I might actually succeed in achieving my goals. Whatever – the reason why doesn’t concern me. I will just fix it now, and with minimal effort.

May’s new habit: read through goals and affirmations every morning.

I was going to write out all twelve new habits for the next year but I think it will be better to assess what’s needed as I go.

And before I wrap up for today, I just want to point out how it is that all of this self-development guff actually does sit very well with my Taoist principals. Basically, by simplifying my processes I stand to achieve more by doing less – and if that ain’t Taoism then I don’t know what is. And as for my ambition – it comes naturally to me, therefore to go with it is to follow my essential nature and...

Flow Like Water...

* Okay, so then there was my little experiment but the result simply confirmed my intentions and cemented the new good habit further.


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