Remember that the time we spend doing anything accumulates. It adds up— and pretty quickly, at that.
I know, this sounds obvious. But a lot of times we forget it when we’re trying to change our habits.
Something I very often remind my patients of, is the fact that if we spend five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening doing something— ten minutes a day, total— then, at the end of a week, we’ll have spent OVER AN HOUR doing that thing.
Think about that.
Five minutes of meditation in the morning, plus five minutes of meditation in the evening, equals OVER AN HOUR of meditation every single week.
That’s the kind of time investment that can realistically change and train your brain.
Now think about the fact that if you spend TEN minutes in meditation in the morning, and TEN minutes in the evening, you’ll have devoted OVER TWO HOURS every week to your meditation discipline.
That’s some serious, brain-transforming time. No one can argue that anything you spend literally hours doing every week WON’T change your brain.
But often times we don’t do the five or ten minutes in the morning, and five or ten minutes in the evening, because we become convinced that it doesn’t mater.
After all, five minutes is so little time, how can it possibly change our brains?
Through the process of accumulation, that’s how. It’s like anything that you do a little bit at a time— anything at which you chip, chip, chip away at, will eventually yield.
That five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening doesn’t have to be meditation. It can be journaling; it can be goal setting and goal reviewing; it can be writing and repeating self-programming statements. It could even be something as simple as stretching or walking or reading or praying.
Even small chunks of time add up. Any big chunk of time you’ve ever devoted to anything is really just an accumulation of little chunks of time you spent doing that thing.
Any hour of time you’ve spent doing anything is just a collection of sixty minutes doing that thing.
Any minute you’ve ever spent doing anything is just an accumulation of sixty second periods of time doing that thing.
Any period of sixty seconds is an accumulation of twelve five-second increments. That’s all.
So often we get it in our heads that if we’re going to change our lives, we need to devote hours and hours to the project— and it exhausts us. It strikes us as a marathon that we are just not in any shape to run. It discourages us from even starting, because we don’t have confidence in our ability to finish the race.
Do not worry about finishing the race.
Just do five minutes of whatever you’re trying to get in the habit of doing. Morning and night.
When you start doing this, your brain is probably going to push back at you. Your brain has all sorts of built in mechanisms that will try to thwart your ability and inclination to make dramatic changes in your life.
Given its druthers, your brain would always prefer to maintain the status quo— there’s a reason why the status quo is, in fact, the status quo. It’s because your brain has determined the status quo to be the path of least resistance at the moment, and it would very much like to continue following the path of least resistance, thank you very much.
Don’t get into an argument with your brain when it pushes back at you. Just tell your brain, look, don’t freak out, we’re just gong to do five minutes of this thing right now. You can let us do five minutes, can’t you?
This is how we make realistic, long term change in our lives.
Not by taking on ambitious projects that overwhelm and discourage and intimidate us.
We do it by slowly redirecting our thoughts and behavior— consistently over time.
Commit to trying this for a month. Five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the evening.
Make it ten minutes if that gets too easy.
Before you know it, months will have passed, and you will have invested HOURS of training time into your new habit regimen— and none of it will have been more difficult than patiently doing a thing five minutes at a time.