Every week or so for the past six years, I have made up a big pot of mixed spices, nuts, fruit, and grains that Del and I eat as our morning breakfast. For the first four of those years I used a Teflon coated pot and a spoon that wouldn’t scratch the Teflon coating.
The spoon was the perfect height for the pot.
Two years ago, Del bought me a new pot, which I now use. It’s not Teflon and it is about six inches taller than the first one. However, I continued to use the same spoon, even though it meant I had to reach down into the pot to get the spoon.
Last week that spoon was dirty, so I picked up a long metal spoon, stuck it in the pot, and started stirring. It was the perfect spoon, perfect height, for that new pot.
It took me two years to stop using something that no longer worked for the situation, and switch to something that did. I was stuck in an unthinking habit.
On our last visit to my mom, we decided to watch a football game together. It meant that we couldn’t go to a movie that she wanted to see because she would miss the beginning of the game. No amount of persuasion would get her to agree to let Del record the game, so we could do both. Why? Because in her world, football should only be watched live – commercials and all.
I wanted to change her mind, but she was happy in her habit. I had to choose to change my idea about what I wanted her to want, which, in truth, I resisted mightily, so I wasn’t happy.
Last year I had to make a choice about what I wanted to do each morning. I have always told myself that because mornings are my favorite time that is the only time of the day I can write.
However, I found a Pilates class I wanted to take three mornings a week, and Del needed me to help with his Taiji class he teaches two mornings a week. One morning is a morning we coach, so that left only one morning a week to write, if I could only write in the morning.
I had to make a choice. I could choose to not do the classes. That choice didn’t make me happy. I could choose to not write, except one morning a week. That choice didn’t make me happy.
I could choose to change my mind about when I can write. That choice made me happy. It also proved to be much easier than I thought. In fact, now I write at all times, fitting it between everything else I am doing, and find, for me, this works even better than I dreamed it would.
Almost every day someone tells me that they would love to come to Del’s 7:30 am class, but they can’t because they are used to getting up later. This is usually because they used to have a job that kept them up late at night, or they have decided that they are not a morning person.
Because it is so much easier to see the obvious set of choices for other people than the ones we make for ourselves, I keep wanting to convince them that of course they could change that habit, since it is no longer needed or useful for them.
This is where it is my habit that is getting in the way; my habit of thinking that what makes me happy would make others happy too.
We all get to choose what we want to do that makes us happy.
However, here’s the deal with the spoon and the pot, and the change of time about writing – too many times, we don’t notice what is working and what is not working.
This is where pausing and examining if what we did before is what works for us now. This way we can consciously choose the activity, and resources, that mean the most to us, and not default to an old habit that no longer serves us.
Sometimes it is a simple as using a new spoon that works better in the pot, and other times it might be a decision about remaining in the idea that football can only be watched live. It’s all about a life examined isn’t it?
Choices and habits, let’s be clear about the ones we are making, and choose the ones that make us happy, and let others make the choices that make them happy too.
I best hop to it, I know I have some examining to do, because things that used to work for me, are not necessarily working well for me now. How about you?