Why do so many people have a difficult time changing routines? The answer is simple: Most people have their biological thermostat set on “habit” mode. Breaking habits or changing routines is not just a biological issue, it is also psychological. In other words, it’s really a mind-body issue—with emphasis on awareness and choice.
Sometimes we tend to live our lives on autopilot—repeating the same routine with little or no conscious attention, just getting through the day. What is the point of that? This often happens when people get trapped in their heads, fantasizing about the next thing to do, distracting their attention from what’s present now. When that happens, the body becomes like a machine following whatever the head decides.
When awareness is dominated by thinking, we lose touch with our body’s own innate wisdom. Running on autopilot, the body lacks awareness of fitness goals, and simply goes through the motions needed to stay alive.
Take a look at how you live everyday. If you are like most people probably up to 90 percent of what you do is routine. You get up the same way, get into your car in the same way, drive the same routes, park at the same spots, and so on. You purchase more or less the same stuff at the supermarket every week. Review what you eat, and you’ll probably find you tend to eat the same kinds of food. The ways you spend your money and time are likely to be consistent—forming a pattern. This happens because we often move through life with our “thermostat” set on “habit,” and rarely stop long enough to take notice.
But if you are unaware of your habits, how can you make a change?
Quite simply: You switch your thermostat from “habit” to “choice.” Choice is a sacred, conscious act. Choice is creative, and we don’t need to have any reason for choosing. In fact, having a reason blocks real choice and throws us back into the mechanism of habit. Choice always happens now, in the present moment.
When we fully realize that everything always happens in the present moment, we naturally pay conscious attention to what’s actually going on. With this awareness, we can exercise choice to make our actions line up with our intentions—leaving little room for habit.
It starts by realizing that making a choice is a fully embodied process, an expression of our unified mind-body system. We draw on our body’s innate intelligence to guide our actions. By contrast, living in our heads—acting from intellectual abstractions—turns us into machines, working on autopilot like the gears in an engine. And as long as we act from habit, we can never make any changes.
Living from our whole body moves us away from what the head thinks, and allows us to be fully engaged in the present moment. Then, it’s easy to make changes.
So what do we do?
First, bring attention to your breath and become fully aware of this moment. When you connect with the present moment, the rest naturally follows. You start to observe your own actions and soon realize that you have shifted your thermostat from “habit” to “choice”—priming creative action that facilitates change.