It’s hard to believe the holidays are upon us again.
I know I say this every year, (admit it, you do too) but it always seems like a surprise. Stores starting setting up Halloween displays sometime around March (slight – but not much of an – exaggeration.) Christmas displays have been unveiled in the big box outlets for several weeks already. And, almost as quickly as it began, summer has left us for cold mornings, thick jackets, and wool caps.
Especially after being hunkered down for almost two years, it can be difficult to stay on track during the upcoming “holiday party season,” that period from when Halloween candies hit the store shelves until the last New Year’s party has faded with the final chords of Auld Lang Syne. This is not new. We’ve all been around the block a few times; we know how difficult it can be to get back on track come January. We could just stay on course for the next couple of months. Yet, if we all know what this time of year is like, why do we do this to ourselves every year?
The answers are numerous, but at the core is “habit.”
To permanently change habits, we need an accurate understanding of what they are. Most people mistakenly consider habits to be repeated behaviors done without thought; developed over time. Whereby that’s partly true, it misses focusing on the more significant elements: everything which precedes the behavior. Not understanding the entire chain condemns us to be victims of our actions instead of their masters.
That said, let’s re-define more accurately what exactly is a habit: “A recurring pattern of thoughts and feelings triggering a repeated behavior, which all work together to simplify our lives.”
We are not mindless Zombies, aimlessly wandering the landscape, driven by impulse and instinct, reacting without any control. Instead, since most of us have functioning brains, we develop patterns – rituals – which allow us to lower the cacophony between our ears and think less. The benefit of which is that it simplifies our lives by putting much of it on autopilot. After all, it’s hard to constantly be “on,” we need relief.