’Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. Benjamin Franklin
About forty percent of our daily life is habitual action. Brushing our teeth, making our bed, drinking coffee, going for a morning walk, checking social media. When, where, what and how much we eat and even how we interact with our friends and family—all largely based on habits. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: Mastering the Habit of Our Everyday Lives, “Habit is a good servant but a bad master.” Habits can help us make positive change but they can also be saboteurs of our progress.
Often the most effective way to adopt a new habit is to replace a bad one with a better one. Diverting a river is better than damming it up. Watch for triggers that might set you back including boredom and stress. Commit to at least sixty days to establish a new habit.
Affirmation: I can change my habits.
Coaching questions: What bad habit would you like to change? What good habit would you like to develop? What difference will it make in your life? Is the change powerful enough to pull you through sixty days of establishing a new path? Commit to it. You can do this!
Life isn’t fair, so you have to play the best game you can with the cards you’re dealt. Marla Acosta, author
As I thought about my post about boredom yesterday, I knew I had to tell you a story. My BFF, Nancy, will be 84 in March, she’s a widow who lives alone in the country and is confined to a wheelchair. She no longer drives. Doesn’t this sound like the most boring life ever? Not to Nancy. She has learned to reframe her circumstances and knows how to “let the magic happen.” She loves to watch the birds at her various feeders, makes cards for shut-ins, reads, makes jewelry, plays word games with my husband and others who live around the country. She attends church functions, family events, and has frequent outings. She cooks, does laundry, irons, washes dishes.
In addition, my friend is the most delightful person you’d ever want to be around. Her personality attracts frequent visitors and callers. I always feel uplifted when we speak on the phone and treasure the three or four times a year we are together. Bored? Never. She has learned to play the hand she was dealt and is winning the game.
Affirmation: I want to be like Nancy.
Coaching question: How do you want to show up as you age? What can you do now to plant the seeds for a fulfilling life—no matter the hand your dealt?
This photo was taken at a tea a few years ago. Nancy is on the left
When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting. Jon Kabat-Zinn, American professor
Friedrich Nietzsche referred to boredom as the “unpleasant calm that precedes creative acts.” Embrace boredom as a positive force. Think of it as the pause that makes magic happen. I claim to never be bored. That’s not to say I don’t have hours free of activity, conversation, or other stimuli. After a busy week like I just experienced, there is nothing I enjoy more than a day with nothing planned, a day to linger over a cup of tea, to read, to water plants. No time frame, no urgency, no goals.
Routine chores like cooking or folding laundry can feel boring. However, we can reframe them as a time of meditation or the task that gives us a sense of achievement. Boredom isn’t about what you do but how you do it. It helps you rethink your relationship with the world. Embrace the blank page, the silence, the pause.
Affirmation: I embrace the pause.
Coaching request: This week, take a moment to sit with the silence, the boredom, the comma in your life. Resist the temptation to fill every moment—checking the weather, the news, Facebook. Let your mind wander and see where it takes you. Let the magic happen.