You never know when the Universe is going to give you a nudge. I got one years ago in a Toronto comedy club. I went there with a couple of friends to see a clever and funny standup comedian from the States. And she told one gag that lodged itself indelibly in my mind.
It went like this: “I’m very neat and tidy. Do you know what people like me can say that untidy people can’t say? Just drop by anytime!
I laughed like everyone else, but it was an ouch moment cushioned by humour.
I live alone and therefore when I’m sloppy about stuff I have habitually told myself that it doesn’t matter. As I write that now, I see it actually means that I told myself that I didn’t matter. Gulp!
But that’s changing now. 🙂
I mentioned taking brain expert Jim Kwik’s online course offered with the advance purchase of his book, Limitless, in my post Do the Difficult Things. Since then, his positive influence has extended further into my life.
In another lesson, he said:
You will never change your life until you decide to change something you do daily.
I do all kinds of good things daily. I floss my teeth. I drink lots of filtered water. My diet is 98% plant-based. I don’t tell lies. I save money. And I do one truly great thing. I practise Buddhism twice a day.
But I still feel that my life needs changing, that I’m not living up to my true capacity. That I’m capable of doing and being so much more. I’ve always related to Shirley Valentine in the wonderful 1989 British movie of the same name when she says: I have allowed myself to lead this little life, when inside me there was so much more. … Why do we get all this life if we don’t ever use it?
Buddhism as taught in SGI* teaches that chanting** and praying is the first thing to do in any situation; but that by itself, it’s not enough. The formula for success — a.k.a. having your prayers answered — is: CHANT + TAKE ACTION.
So I was all ears when Jim Kwik further said:
I believe that the treasures you’re looking for in your life are hidden in your daily routine.
And the clincher came when he added:
First you create your habits. Then your habits create you.
When we think about changing our lives we usually have grandiose visions of dramatic, sweeping changes. But how do you get to the mountain’s summit if you’re an inexperienced climber standing at its base, looking wistfully up but feeling daunted?
Inch by inch. Little by little. Step by step.
So I have made changes to my behaviour by adding in some small, but habitually repeated, daily actions. And I feel very good about it!
I committed to dealing with clutter and untidiness by removing or putting away three things every day. Just three things. Nothing daunting about that!
But how quickly it adds up to a better environment! The unopened 2019 calendar — gone. The clothing label that lay on my bedside table since 2018 because I want to use it for an art project — put away. The empty supplement bottles and jars in my kitchen cupboard that I kept “just in case” — gone. People’s business cards that I’ve carried in my handbag since 2017 — gone.
The benefit of decluttering also affects my inner environment. My mind feels clearer, and less encumbered by unfinished thoughts.
And contrary to the way I’ve sporadically tackled decluttering in the past, this baby-step method doesn’t feel like self-discipline, which I kick against due to memories of a painfully strict childhood. It feels like fun! Like a really neat game (pardon the pun) that I always win!
Urged on by Jim’s expertise and warm, caring heart, I’ve also added two new good habits to my early morning routine.
I now make my bed — something I have done during certain periods in the past, but ultimately inertia and those painful childhood memories always took over, and I stopped. This time, from the first morning I did it, I could feel the difference. I didn’t do it because “I should,” but because I recognise the value for my life of doing that for myself. And I felt so proud of myself!
And I exercise for a few minutes, because now I “get,” as never before, the great benefit of exercise for my brain as well as my body. The fast, simple and effective routine I do takes just three to four minutes. You can check it out in this video!
Little by little, bit by bit, day by day, I’m acquiring and solidifying the habit of showing up for myself.
The habit of showing myself that I’m worth it! ❤
*SGI: Soka Gakkai International, a worldwide organisation of people practising Nichiren Buddhism