If you habitually answer the question “why am I doing this?” with “something to do,” you’ve got a potential problem.
The mind automates tasks for efficiency as much as possible hence the formation of practices retained by associative emotional rewards. There’s a cosy familiarity brought about by habits that make for an uneasy day in which there’s no order should they not be followed. Rituals tell us we’re in control and have a system that works. We do things expecting the results we get. Much like any setup though, a lackadaisical maintenance approach guarantees that unwanted traits will sneak in and remain, while others get thrown out for the social and moral inconveniences they pose.
Habits we form are seen in our choices of spouses and friends, our like-minded people in the stage of life we’re in, our signifiers of personal values. To know ourselves look at the results reflected in whom and what we keep – these and not our wishes are the fruits of our labour. To know what type of tree we are, examine what we do during routine and leisure times. The fruits don’t fall far from the tree, experiences in our decisions.
Purposeful living will never encounter the reason, “something to do,” because there are already mental plans in place and physical steps outlined to achieve goals, providing room for variance. The mind seeks to enhance our capacities in order to achieve our dreams and thus, most if not all habits become aligned toward the conscious and subconscious desires in our hearts so that even down-time is catered toward productivity. In comes hanging around people and doing things “for fun.” We have to be careful about all things we do to ensure we cement the right attributes and rewards that will lead us to, and not far from our goals. This can’t be stressed enough – our habits take us to our goals and not our wishes.
For example, wanting to be healthy while heaping on the extra calories satisfies our innate goal of self-sabotage with the reward being the consequent bad feelings we experience backed by a deep-seated low self-esteem. Our practice has an emotional reward geared toward our conscious and/or sub-conscious goal. In another example, wanting to be a successful professional involves going back to school, cutting off friends and activities that inhibit growth, networking with like-minded individuals and moving to suitable locations which works toward the desire to succeed, and the rewards are confidence, emotional boost and enhancement of a healthy self-image.