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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

A Better Way to Get Healthy Habits to Stick

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 21st 2013

man walking on beachWe all have things in life we would love to become a habit. Maybe it’s eating well, exercising, meditating, breathing before firing off emails and even keeping the romance up in a relationship. But inevitably, even with the best intentions, we fall off the wagon and fall into the belief that it’s never going to happen. And so ultimately we give up. But if we hold in mind that we will always be imperfect with our intentions in life. What matters is that we drop our anxieties over our imperfections and come back again and again. 

A classic form of meditation that you may have experienced is bringing your attention to some object – be it the breath, a sound, the body or thoughts. Inevitably, and often fairly soon after you begin, the mind wanders off from object of attention. In The Now Effect, you’ll read a simple instruction to work with the wandering mind called See, Touch, Go. 

See – See where you mind has wandered to. Maybe it’s an important thought or idea or maybe just a random image. 

Touch – Spend a moment with the thought or image without the need to hurry back to the breath or whatever your intended object of attention was. 

Go – Gently go back to the original object of attention. 

In this way, meditation is a metaphor for gaining mastery over the habits that we want more of in our lives. If you want to eat healthier you might set up a plan that includes all the elements of a healthy diet. Whenever it is that you realize that you’ve wandered off your original intention practice See, Touch, Go. 

See that you wandered off to unhealthy eating. 

Touch the moment or spend a moment and investigate how you wandered off to that place.  It’s okay that you’ve wandered off, this affords you an opportunity to learn how you got to that place. Learning allows us to get better and better at something. 

Gently Go back to your original plan. Review it and visualize practicing it in the days to come. 

When starting a new habit don’t look at it in the classic structure of 21 days to make a habit. Take a 365 day perspective or longer. What you’re trying to train is a lifestyle not just some technique to fit in your life. 

Throughout the year your behavior will wander sometimes for a short period of time at other times for longer periods of time. Whenever you notice this you’re awake, in a choice point to practice See, Touch, Go and always begin again. 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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