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Same old, same old . . . . the alarm buzzes, you startle awake, grab some breakfast, rush to get ready and avoid traffic as you   begin your day. You try to remember your ‘to do’ list though your mind races onto the afternoon, to that important meeting, your family and personal commitments later tonight only a faint possibility. 

Notice your heart rate just now? Is it beating more quickly at the mere thought of your hectic day? Is this a typical day, doing a lot of the same stuff you did yesterday, often in the same ways—on automatic—feeling rushed and urgent somehow?

Me too. I hate feeling rushed and yet I can find myself in the ‘practice’ of rushing more than I’d like to admit.

Practice of rushing?  Sounds silly, but think about it this way . . . .

We are a collection of habits, behaviors that occur regularly and largely out of our awareness. Habits can be useful (think brushing teeth here) or not so useful (smoking, too much coffee, chocolate binges, etc).  

We can also say that we are a collection of routines. We all get into routines; they’re useful (think nighttime routine, washing your face, brushing those teeth . . . ). Routines help us to stay on track with our lives; routines provide order to our days and meaning to how we spend our time. 

And yet . . .  . in time routines can become invisible to us. And, like habits, what was once useful might not be any  longer.

The point?  

Unawares, our habits and routines can, and often do, put a damper on our our life energies,  stirring up our state of mind, dulling our senses. We call this stress.

Am I aware of my ‘rushing’ as I prep for the day? Is it a useful behavior? Or, am I caught up in it, effectively letting it determine my mood that morning?

The answer to that question reveals if my behavior is a habit (repetitive, maybe inherited, largely unconscious) or a practice (repetitive, chosen for a purpose).

Same old, same old . . . or not.   

By consciously introducing the idea of ‘intention’ to our habits and routines (that purposeful course of action designed to get me where I want to go, in my case ‘to begin my day calmly and with joy’) we can wake up to what’s most important vs. running on automatic.

It’s only then, intention in hand, that we can go on to develop what can be called ‘practices,’  or those active, conscious choices we make to train ourselves to support what’s most important.

By the way, just because I ‘set my intention’ to ‘begin my day calmly and with joy’ doesn’t mean that the old habit of rushing is gone . . . just that I’m aware and working it, on my way to joy.

Reflect on these for a moment:

  • What is your intention for today?
  • Think of a current habit or routine of yours that negatively impacts your intention.
  • How does effect your mood?
  • What practice do you need to develop as a support to your intention, to shift your mood?

Same old, same old. Habit or practice? How do you want to start your day?

Look for more in More on Intention in the next post.