Monday, January 21, 2013


My friend Abby sent me this link on identity-based habits a few weeks ago and it has changed my thinking about how to create the life I want.  Or as Erica puts it in her post today, my aspirational life.  You know, the one where everything in my life falls into perfect place and my family sits around the table after a hike eating homegrown kale, discussing novels, and wondering what in the world we're going to do with all of the delicious cheese we've made with the milk from our goats because we couldn't possibly consume it all.  This vision is also known as the one that will likely never happen.* 

Even if reality never perfectly aligns with the life I want for myself, I'm going to keep working to bring small pieces of it to fruition.  The tool I've mostly recently found to aid in that endeavor are mantras inspired by the identity-based habits post.  Repeating mantras about who I am and not just what I should do has helped me make better choices throughout the day.

For example, when hunger strikes in the afternoon and I really want to mix butter, flour, and sugar together to create a quick fake cookie dough (gross, but true), I say to myself, "I am someone who makes healthy choices."  The simple act of saying those words out loud helps me choose the carrot over the cookie dough. 

I have created a list of these mantras that speak to different aspects of my life.  I am a person who...
... makes healthy choices.
... exercises most days of the week.
... uses social media to connect, not to fill time.
... chooses to read over watching television.
... eats meals at the table, not on the couch.
... writes every day.
... plays games with my husband (of the card/board variety).
... crafts.
... is generous with my time and money.

Obviously I cannot focus on bringing each statement into being at every moment of the day, but I can call on each one when needed.  When I turn to automatically get on Facebook for the seventh time of the day--even though I get no true pleasure from it and feel worse after closing my browser--I remind myself that "I am a person who uses social media to connect, not to fill time."  And that statement alone makes it easier to walk away from my computer.

Having these mantras is more effective than telling myself, "I will only get on Facebook once a day."  When I create rules, I try to find ways to break them.  I spend the whole day thinking about how I "can't" get on Facebook.  My mantra gently reminds me that a different choice is more in line with my values and will bring more joy to my life.  

And isn't that the real kicker?  When I live out those statements I am happier, healthier, and more fulfilled than when I do not.  Why is it not instinctive to make the choice that brings me joy?  I seem to have created habits and routines that bring passive pleasure instead of true satisfaction.  As we all know, changing habits is easier said that done.

But that won't stop me from trying, because I also want to be a person who leads a life that reflects my values.

*Especially the cheese part.  We can always eat more cheese.

1 comment:

  1. I love your incorporation of your identity-based habits into mantras!