There are plenty of books on habits. Too many, if you ask me.
You don’t need books to start habits. In my experience, self-awareness will get you farther. In particular, starting new behavior creates new emotions and reactions. Paying attention to them will guide you how to follow up to improve them more than reading—if you pay attention to everything you can.
That level of self-awareness takes time and effort to develop, so books may seem to help more, but you have to practice self-awareness to develop it, which books hinder, like training wheels when learning to ride a bike. I recommend losing the training wheels as soon as you can.
The habit development pattern
Not just habits, but sidchas:
- Start sidcha
2. Feel embarrassed or ashamed
when you find it more challenging than you expected and you perform it amateurishly
3. Give up
at least for a while
4. Work through shame or embarrassment
if you keep doing it. Others don’t have to know about it anyway.
5. Road to mastery
through persevering through your doubts, insecurities, poor performance, and so on
6. Feel pride, want to share, and connect with other masters
Most people don’t persevere through the embarrassment or shame, never realize the joy, pride, community, exuberance of mastery.
Maybe not everyone goes through all these stages, but you can rest assured that you’ll face a lot of emotional challenges for sidchas beyond what you get with habits that don’t challenge you, like brushing your teeth or reading the paper.
I share this pattern so you know what to expect and can more easily overcome the sometimes intense anxiety, shame, embarrassment, and other feeling like you want to quit. In my experience, the glory past them is worth it.
I suspect most people today don’t know that glory.
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