Yes, You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

I once wrote about the differences between my dog and me.  The gist of the blog was that while my dog would sit outside my office door waiting for me – even though I was travelling – I was not going to wait outside my husband’s door because I knew he was not ever going to be there.

Today I want to write about how my dog and I are alike.   Or better how dogs and we have the same habitual behavior.

If you train a dog to sit for a treat, they will eventually always do the commend even when you no longer offer the treat.  Pretty simple; dogs learn from repetition.

The same happens to us.  We create habits from events and thought repetition.  Let me zero in on thought repetition.  If I think everything always turns out for the worse, then that will color the way I see life, and how I relate to others.  The habit I’ve created will make me feel down no matter what is happening around me.  In essence we are – just like dogs – creatures of habit.  But unlike dogs, we can teach an old dog new tricks, it just takes discipline.

Let me share a couple of ideas that have worked for this old dog:

1                    –  Make friends with yourself – If you start getting familiar with your psyche you’ll be able to identify what is your “shit” and what isn’t.

2                    –  Take responsibility for your “shit” – this is when you decide you want to make a change.  This is an important step and if you really want to raise the bar tell someone you trust you want to make a change.  By telling someone you’re well on your way to making the change a reality.

3                    –  Be vigilant – Like our dogs we will want to go back to our familiar response system.  It will take love, kindness and discipline to remind ourselves that we want to change.

If you can follow these three steps with compassion for yourself you can make a change in your life.  Big or small, it is all up to you.


Up In The Air

January 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Bad habits are hard to break. Often there’s just something about them we enjoy, even if it’s not good for us. Good habits are also hard to break. Good habits can change because they don’t fit in our life anymore. Good habits can also be changed, out of our control, when situations turn life upside down.

The movie “Up in the Air” was all about habit. Ryan Bingham played by George Clooney, declares to the woman who has captured his heart, “I want my life to be a +1.” After years of staying happily airborne, he was ready to change his habit of living, always on the go, unattached and alone.

Two years ago all of my habits for living changed. They became focused on taking care of my husband, whose strong health was slipping away. My habits took on the role of a caretaker, a nurse, a nutritionist. Then when he passed away my habit of living “+1” stopped. My life of automatic habits disconnected. My habit of loving my life was gone.

New Years Resolutions are all about habit. Creating good habits to stop smoking, join a gym, or loose weight are challenging. New habits can also be short lived. But what about when we have to create habits we don’t want? Habits like sleeping and living alone? Planning habits that are for 1 person alone, not 2? Habits that are now my reality. I’ve existed with them for over a year. Now it’s time that I learn how to live with them.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain