Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Your Hair is on Fire!

The theme of this blog is changing habits that block our happiness so that we can reset our homepage to our happy place. One requirement of changing habits is motivation. We have to want to change our habits. Many of us are not motivated to change our habits until we are in crisis. For example, a health crisis might motivate us to change our lifestyle habits. But if things are just rolling along in a could-be-better-but-not-so-bad sort of way, the effort required to change our habits sometimes seems too great. It is easy to put it off for another day.

So how can we motivate ourselves? Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun who has written extensively on overcoming habitual patterns that block our happiness. She says, “If we really knew how unhappy it was making this whole planet that we all try to avoid pain and seek pleasure–how that is making us so miserable and cutting us off from our basic goodness–then we would practice as if our hair was on fire. There wouldn’t be any question of thinking we have a lot of time and we can do this later.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but the image of my hair being on fire has shaken me out of my complacency more than once. Ironically, this image comes from a chapter entitled Joyful Exertion. The idea is that if we start wherever we are and make whatever effort we are capable of at that moment, the effort will produce energy, and that in turn will encourage us to make more effort. The more we connect with this energy, the more joy we will experience.

So give it a try. Pick one of the practices we have discussed, or any other practice you find helpful, and look for an opportunity to use it today.

Have a joyful day!

(I highly recommend anything Pema Chodron has written, but if you can read only one thing, I recommend Comfortable with Uncertainty.)

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