Before a person learns how to ride a bike, play the piano, swim across the water, or juggle five balls altogether, he needs to practice. This might seem like a no-brainer but it takes an enormous amount of discipline, perseverance and patience to be good at something. However, a person who chooses to consciously improve at something will only be able to do so through deliberate repetition of movements.
Almost everything we do in our daily life is a form of practice. Unfortunately, we usually lack the consciousness to be aware of the things we do such as the things we think, say, and do. As we repeat these everyday, we eventually master these things. More often than not, our bad habits or negative perceptions are also products of our unconscious practices.
If we want to live better lives, we must learn to practice with consciousness and choose the things we want to master. This principle goes beyond honing our skills or betting on our talent. We should be conscious about everything that we say, think, and do. This will allow us to be better at the good things we want and not at the bad things we want to avoid.
In order to be good at practicing conscious action, the first thing you need to do is to increase your awareness. During the next 3 to 5 days, be aware of all the things you say, think, and do. List them down on a notepad as this will help you practice your awareness. Whatever you notice about yourself, make sure you do not get mad or feel guilty. Accept the flaws you find and take them as your starting point towards an improved version of you.
As you complete your list, you will be able to determine the good and bad things about you. This will make it easier for you to decide which practices you want to keep and which ones you need to change. For example, you might learn that you always eat junk food when you want to have a snack. Instead of doing so, you may opt for healthier alternatives like whole foods or carrot sticks.
On the other hand, it will also boost your motivation when you find the good things you practice such as attending to work-related emails first before browsing other websites.
Every now and then, you may forget to take note of some things. This is okay as long as you do not forget too much. Find a way to remind yourself about your list by keeping it with you all the time.
Your ability to practice consciously will slowly improve and this will give you the opportunity to practice the right thoughts and actions. Take note of the negative things you want to avoid and consciously replace them with alternative thoughts, actions, and words. It may take you a long time and you might need to repeat things numerous times before you can be good at the practice you want. Nevertheless, it will certainly feel rewarding once you succeed in attaining conscious practice.
It’s impossible to change all your bad habits immediately. What you need to focus on first is your ability to improve your consciousness and the things you practice. It is alright if you fail so do not scold yourself or feel bad. You will improve through deliberate and repetitive practice. Take baby steps. Want to quit smoking? Don’t quit cold turkey start by reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day. There’s no easy way to rid ourselves of bad habits but as long as we make an effort to avoid it, we will be without it in no time at all.
by: Jeffrey Slayter