The word “habit” comes from the Old French abit, habit, from Latin habitus “condition, appearance,” from habere “have, consist of.” The term originally meant “dress, attire,” and the noun “habit” meant a monk’s outfit.
The habit was an external sign of a monk’s internal constitution, which defined their whole life. Later, the meaning of this word drifted to denote physical or mental constitution.
You are your habits. If you want to understand yourself, integrate relevant habits into your life.
A handful I use for those purposes:
I use it in a very nonchalant manner. I meditate 2–5 minutes a day. On working days, I meditate on a train platform while waiting for a train to work. On weekends, I usually meditate while catching a nap. It helps me to fall asleep faster, and if I don’t fall asleep, at least I meditated. 😉
This habit will help you both know yourself better and be more mindful… among a zillion other benefits. Meditation makes you aware of what’s going on in your head. An average person pays very little attention to their self-talk. Meditation is a shortcut to your internal world. When you only sit still, breathe deeply and try to not think at all, it is very easy to notice all kinds of trains of thought that run through your head.
This is my secret and powerful weapon. Six days a week (I review past entries on Sundays), I write down a single question or a topic for reflection and journal for 10–15 minutes about that.
The thing is that if you decide for this habit for life, you can explore a multitude of subjects. Sometimes, I journal about a current life event and my emotions. Sometimes about my relationships. Sometimes, I simply use this “me” time to plan my next business venture. Sometimes, I ask myself about my dreams; sometimes about my fears. Sometimes, I brainstorm the next bunch of questions. Sometimes, I argue with God.
Most times, I ask a question about myself:
-What do I enjoy doing?
-What are my strengths?
-Who do I admire and why?
-What would I want people to say about me at my funeral?
-What are my addictions? How can I avoid them?
-What good habits should I develop and why?
Every morning session is, for me, a journey to self-discovery.
I don’t use meditation much, because I had been journaling for over a year before I was introduced to meditation.
I already had been mindful and aware of my internal world. Meditation provided me only a marginal improvement at that.
For several months, I had been trying to not utter a single word for the whole day.
I never succeeded, but I learned a lot about myself and became more mindful.
I had to control myself. I had to control my thoughts. I had to control my tongue.
Each conversation when I tried to say the minimum amount of words possible was an exercise in mindfulness and communication.
Try to be silent for an hour or two, for the whole morning or afternoon. Similarly, like with meditation, you will quickly notice your thinking patterns. You will get to know yourself better.
4. Personal Mission Statement.
To create your personal mission statement, you need to go through many mental exercises and answer many self-probing question. The process itself will make you understand yourself better.
However, creating your mission statement is just the first step. Once you have it, you should use it every day: read it, repeat it, listen to it, and so on.
You will become a more mindful person, because you will live more intentionally. Whatever is included in your personal mission statement will get more of your attention and energy. Whatever is out of your mission’s scope will get ignored, overlooked, or left out.
You will start judging your daily actions and big projects through the lenses of your personal mission statement.
In the process, you will also learn more about yourself. Some of the things you put in your statement may appear to be a result of peer pressure or social conditioning and not really something intimately important for you. You may discover that you slack in some areas of your mission while crushing it on others.
Using a personal mission statement provides a continuous feedback loop. Your thoughts, affirmations, and actions will be constantly verified by the objectives and intentions you set in your statement.
The best of it is that this process becomes so automatic, you are barely aware that it takes place. With time, you will simply be accommodating yourself to your personal mission statement.
Originally published at www.quora.com.
Originally published at medium.com