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  • Writer's pictureEsther Brownwood

How kindness and self-compassion can help us overcome our bad habits, and maintain our good ones

The word habit, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is as follows: a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.

We asked you all if you think you have more good, or bad habits. Well, the results were a remarkable tie! So let’s dive in and see what that means.

Let’s talk about what we define as a good habit. In my opinion it is all about perception, if we are able to appreciate what we are doing and recognize its value, it is a good habit. Usually it is something we have decided to make time for in our life. Therefore, mostly they are conscious behaviors.

Some examples of good habits you all gave: Yoga, taking walks, checking in on friends, caring about people, and starting the day with a glass of water.

On the other hand, bad habits are typically unconscious behaviors, things that we don’t even realize we are doing until suddenly we do, and are frustrated with ourselves for being caught up in that behavior. Some examples of bad habits you gave: Slouching, procrastinating, being lazy, being on social media before sleeping, and eating candy.

We can try to boss ourselves around in order for us to stop doing the things that we are doing, but mostly that is wasted energy that leaves us feeling bad about ourselves and our decisions, and no further on our journey to actually stopping.

A way to reframe it, then, would be to recognize that the activity you are participating in is unconscious, thus bringing attention to it. But the type of attention is what matters most.

Imagine a teacher hovering over your shoulders while you write your exam.

Can you concentrate to the best of your ability? Do you feel at ease?

I can tell you, that I sure cannot, and do not.

When we feel like we are being scrutinized, we can rarely be our best, and almost always react out of tension.

Now imagine that you are being listened to by someone who cares about you, really hears you and values you.

The attention is still there, yet, the feelings really differ based on the situations, don’t they?

So, to sum up: If you bring an obsessive, controlling attention to your bad habit, it’s going to be very hard to change it. You will feel tense, stuck and on edge. But, if you bring kind attention to your habit, as if you were returning the favor and lovingly listening to a friend, instead of demonizing or beating yourself up about it, it can give you the space to examine your relationship to it, and therefore recognize whether or not it really adds value to your life.

When in camp, we make a habit of writing intentions and drawing acts of kindness daily. We think it’s important to sit with your intention, be conscious of something you want to achieve that day, and try your best to get there, but an underrated necessary element is also being kind, accepting yourself, even if you don’t succeed in achieving your goal, opening your heart, even for just a joke or a hug or any silly interaction.

Making kindness itself a habit.

So, that’s my wish for you, anyone reading this out there. Whatever your goals may be, whatever habits you are trying to make or break, whatever you are trying to achieve, may you do so through the loving lens of kindness.

Hope you enjoyed, Happy New Year! Much love and hugs from all of us here at Camp Brownwood!

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