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The Power of Habits (Good & Bad)

I've been working on getting out of my comfort zone lately. It hasn't been anything grandiose but I'm learning that the little things can lead to the bigger things. They might not actually lead to the bigger things but they lead to a sense of confidence in our ability to be able to accomplish the bigger things. Want to hear my baby steps so far?

  • Using the voice feature on Voxer instead of typing every single thing out
  • Making recipes that include ingredients I've never used before
  • Purchasing wallpaper for our half bath & entryway (planned on actually putting it up but haven't had the alone time yet to do it--this is an "everyone else out of the house at school" project. Thanks, Snow Week.)

And that's what I accomplished in January. Go ahead and giggle if you wish, especially if you don't mind the recorded sound of your voice & using obscure ingredients. But for me, I love looking back and seeing that I've tried some new things. I'm realizing that I was in a rut where I expected things to fall into my lap with ease or didn't think to do something unless someone else approached me about it. But that's not really how life works, is it? I mean, I suppose life can be lived that way, but I'm not sure how far we would get if we just waited for things to happen. There isn't much room for growth with that sort of mindset.

Over some span of time, it feels like our society has come around to this unrealistic thought that if you aren't doing something that brings you instant gratification and happiness, then you should move on to the next thing. Do you know the ramifications of living that way? A string of unaccomplished goals and dreams that never became reality. So much of the good in life takes effort. It takes time. One of my favorite fitness professionals, Robin Long at The Balanced Life, shared this quote the other day--"People do not decide their futures. They decide their habits and their habits decide their futures." (F.M. Alexander) That really hit home for me. We DECIDE our habits. We CHOOSE our habits. Sometimes we treat our habits like they chose us or like our life chose our habits. "It is what it is," right? No, no, no. In this age of social media being such a major source of connection & communication, it feels like it's become even easier to justify our actions because someone "liking" our picture or status or commenting that they agree means that we aren't alone and if we aren't alone, then that must mean that what we are doing is fine. It's normal.

But are being "fine" and "normal" always the best measurement for our decisions? I'm going with a pretty strong "no". It's "normal" to be on your phone & social media a lot but does that mean it's a good decision? It's "normal" for moms to drink a lot of coffee & not enough water, but does mean it's a good decision?

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but my biggest detour from "normal" in the last few months has been drastically decreasing my Facebook use. Breaking that habit was tough but, wow, has it been life changing. I still needed to have an account to help manage the FIT4MOM Grand Rapids account & our Facebook group, so I went into it with one rule: "No scrolling." Easier said than done when that's the habit that comes with Facebook. But after three months, it's become my new habit. I manage the FIT4MOM page, read any notifications & messages that come through, and that's it. I've occasionally posted a picture or commented on my husband's posts that he tells me I NEED to go read. (Ha!)

My new habit has taught me three main things (and one million small ones, but this post is already long enough).

1) Being inundated with other people's thoughts/problems/opinions is not healthy for me. Social media, while useful in many ways (I still help manage the FIT4MOM Facebook & Instagram pages, after all!), has unearthed a boldness in people to share & say things that they might never dream of actually saying to someone's face. It's like there's now a skewed vision of what "necessary and/or helpful sharing" means. My brain can't handle it all. Maybe I'll come back at some point but for now, this is what's best for me. Mentally, the fog has lifted. Things don't seem so muddy. I can clearly think and focus on what's in front of me that is NOT on a screen. I've experienced a physical change, too. I have a FitBit that tracks my heart rate and my resting heart rate has decreased by 4 points since "quitting" Facebook! And trust me, my nutrition & workout habits have NOT changed much in those months, so I'm quite confident in the positive effect on my health.

2) I need to figure out ways to nurture my friendships that don't include social media. I know much less about what's going on in my friends' lives now and while that realization has come with a interesting sense of isolation, it has done even more to drive home the desire to not allow social media to become the medium in which I maintain my relationships.

3) Remember my post last month? I've been able to focus on discovering what I'm truly passionate about, beyond faith & family. Are you ready?? Music, writing, & helping moms. Now I figure out how to pursue those passions. Some are being pursued to some extent but why settle when you can dream of doing more?

Listen. I'm not proclaiming that social media is evil or that I've figured out the best way to live. Just like everyone else, I am a work in progress and what is best for me might not be best for you. It boils down to this: I don't want to wake up one day and realize that the habits I chose have created a future that I know could be better. I don't want my children to witness me living life behind a screen when what's in front of me is more beautiful & true. I want them to see the power of our choices and how we have the ability to create so much good in our lives and the lives of others. We can't let others have power over us because when we do, we lose who we were created to be.

I was created for something good- for something authentic and life-giving and I have the power to decide to live my one wild and precious life in the way that the one who created me intended it to be lived. And guess what? I believe that applies to you, too.

Until next time.