Mind-Body Habit Forming and A Shopping Cart

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I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a feint morning light splintering the room; two chairs next to me are occupied. I’m wearing reading glasses devoid of prescription and I’m taking aim at an attractive girl that is best described as earthy/edgy/book-holding-sultry; she digs the glasses to fair-trade vibe I’m putting out. When the coffee is brought to our table I re-adjust in my seat, focusing my gaze and noting my company.

In one chair sits my business partner and friend, Anthony Ranaudo. In the other, the third seat of the table, is Greg Goldin, Men’s Basketball Trainer at Louisiana State University. We are here, mid-morning, amongst a calm bustle of standard coffee house mileu—scents, sounds, study—to talk creatively.

That is all.

Greg, renowned and respected trainer is someone Anthony and I sought out as aid as we embark upon a fitness business venture. We wanted to pick his brain and float some ideas.

So we did.

But then, as things seem to do when like-minded people are talking about subject matter they care about, Greg said two things in succession that forced me to immediately do three things: 1) laugh, because it was funny, 2.) make a note to contemplate the ideology and write it down later (this is later), and 3.) verbalize that I would put something on my blog so the aforementioned attractive lady-hipster in ear shot would know I’m versatile/layered.

Talking of high performing habits and performance, Greg forcefully put his mug down to the table; expression seemingly morphing to solemn. I anticipated something heavy.

“You know, and I’m serious, you absolutely cannot, cannot, trust someone who doesn’t put away their shopping cart!”

Quiet for a few seconds.

Quiet for a few more.

Belly laughter.

“It’s true, though,” he says, playing on the brevity, “how you do anything, is how you do everything.”

How you do anything, is how you do everything…

On a basic level, everyone knows what habits are.

There are the good ones, like making the bed and brushing the teeth, and there are the not so good ones, like binge-watching or swiping right while driving, that make us who we are. We all know and understand this/that.

Which is good.

This is a good thing to have that basic knowledge. But it isn’t enough; not if we want to achieve more and not if we want to pursue real success.

To do that, we need to know the science—the chemistry—of habits, and how exactly we use our mind-body to cultivate exactly what we want.

So…

How you do anything, is how you do everything…

A habit is formed when enough active, intentional thinking and doing registers with the subconscious system of the body.

26 year old Beau reads a book about performance and structure, written by a decorated Navy Seal, and retains information citing the importance of discipline first thing in the morning. He then begins making conscious decisions each morning to wake and make his bed. He has never made his before in his life. His mother is an angel, albeit an enabler, and always did it for him. For the next two months he wakes and actively reminds/forces himself to make his bed (Martha Stewart Living 900 thread count). Now, three years later, unless he is home for Christmas with Nancy, he unconsciously and automatically moves to make his bed upon awakening. Habit formed.

That example is basic and rudimentary upon the surface. Chemically, though, things are happening.

90 percent of all mind-body function and cognition is done via the subconscious operating system of our body. This is the autonomic nervous system most easily identified as everything outside of our critical thinking (“active,” conscious thought) frontal lobe. This subconscious system—driver of actions done outside of conscious thought and control—is habit forming. It is always active and always learning (think cookies that track your online data and then send specific mail to your house that’s awkward if received by anyone other than you). It is why athletes practice so deliberately certain movements and why great writers are always reading; the subconscious forms circuitry for those athletic movements, making them natural and easier to access without thought, vital in game, and high-level language/reasoning becomes standard for the subconscious as it is actively absorbed. 90 percent of your brain is an influenced and habit forming product of your active decision-making. Everything you do, every active choice you make, affects your chemistry.

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That notion, if understood and applied, can unlock human potential you never realized was there; you never knew you had. Without getting too cosmic and quantum, just know that your subconscious mind/body is connected and part to a system of complete potentiality. Through direct, deliberate action—using your thinking brain—you can enable that power, that potentiality.

It is both perspective, understanding every decision you make leads to new neural programming, and it is action, choosing to act in all instances with effort, improvement, and compassion, integrating those three states of energy into your subconscious—the system that drives you.

So when you do anything, do it in line with the person you want to be. Little, mundane things—like returning a shopping cart—that you would never consider with any real weight, is opportunity.

All of it.

Challenge yourself to be mindful and aware of that, of what you are doing. And then ask the questions you need to ask of yourself:

  • Is what I’m doing right now in line with the person I want to be?
    • Example of “yes”: choosing to actively empathize with a co-worker who is in d*ck mode.
    • Example of “no”: Assaulting co-worker who is in d*ck mode.
  • Is this action leading to the formation of a good or bad habit?
    • Example of good action-to-habit: placing workout shoes and clothes by foot of bed before sleep in preparation for 5:30 AM run.
    • Example of bad action-to-habit: watching, reading, or saying anything “Kardashian.”
  • What are the personal standards and values I want my subconscious to absorb?
    • Example of sound, transformative personal foundation: I am committed to living in the pursuit of constant improvement, called to make the world around me a better system, and grateful for all I have.
    • Example of someone who sucks: the break-room gossiper or doomsayer. You know who you are. And, anyone who says “lit.”

Do not be afraid to live with steady introspection, always aware of what it is you are doing and the energy in which you are thinking.

Both thought and action affect your chemistry. Science has shown this (I’m not going to show the science, citing is annoying/hard), substantiating the increase, or decrease, in mood neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine—dependent upon specific thought and action. This is cue-to-reward re-wiring, where thought and action based in virtue and good-energy lead to a chemical reward. As noted, your subconscious is always learning, always applying what you actively, specifically think and do to apply to your unconscious mind-body systems. That, is really cool stuff. Stuff certain girls in coffee shops should respond to if you speak loud enough.

Thoughts are things.

And actions are things.

Things that hold weight in the growth and optimization of mind-body; ultimately influencing your experience to the world around you. Things that you have active, conscientious control over.

Basically, if you leave your shopping cart 40 rows deep in the parking lot you are sending signals of apathy and discord to your brain. You are actively stunting your development, which is perpetual, and you are failing to integrate mind and body.

Plus, if your shopping cart rolls into Greg’s vehicle, you will have bigger issues than cognitive improvement. I’m just looking out.

How you do anything, is how you do everything…

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