N3: My Secret to Hacking Bad Habits

Want to hack a bad habit? Use my N3 trick: Notice, Number, and stay Neutral. It’s a game. Give it a shot. Not promising anything, but I can tell you, I’m much better off for it. Here’s what happened.

This morning, a situation looming large on my stress meter had lodged itself in my neck. I was walking in my neighborhood, and a bad headache ensued. I thought about letting go of the situation, and being present instead — to the breeze, the sun, the peace in my neighborhood, my footsteps.

For a second, I almost did it.

But the situation was banging on my psyche, and I actually made a choice to do some more stressing. The difference was, I noticed. I watched myself do it.

And then I realized the stress level had gone down by about 30%.

NOTICE YOUR CHOICES. Watching yourself choose may help you really get it that you are at the controls of your life.

NUMBER YOUR CHOICES. Once you notice you’ve made a choice, give it a sequential number as you move through the day. I don’t know why, it just bleeds off a lot of the drama. I numbered my “keep stressing” choice #1.

STAY NEUTRAL. This is crucial. Don’t judge. On my walk, once I saw what I was doing, I didn’t change my mind about my choice. I just noticed it, numbered it, and stayed neutral.

When I got back to the house, I made Choice #2. Heated up some leftovers, and piled my plate high — twice what I needed. A shy thought presented itself. (Psst! What about cutting that portion in half — just to see.) Since I’d committed to watching my choices, I noticed as I ignored the shy thought, and proceeded to shovel the whole amount down my gullet. Number 2. Check! And, again, a heart full of Switzerland.

Then Choice #3. “I think I’ll have seconds…It was so good, and there’s only a little left, so I’ll just finish it off. One less container in the fridge. (I feel way painfully full already, but my stomach is not being consulted.) I’m about to sign off on this choice; and then something weird happens.

I see it.

I see it too clearly. This choice is so disrespectful — of me, of my body, of the planet in general. I don’t eat the seconds. And that becomes my actual Choice #3.

You might think I’d be really proud of myself at this point; and while I’m glad I’ve got a new behavior going on, the instruction to stay neutral is even more important here. If I get all uppity, my elation might lull me into stopping the mindful practice of noticing and numbering, etc., and I risk falling back into the deep grooves of old habits.

So I keep going. And you can, too. When we do this a lot, we begin to see what the hell we’re actually up to.

And when we see that, we can’t un-see it. This is when things shift. This is when we start naturally making better choices.

So. N3. 
1) Notice what you’re doing. 
2) Number your choices. 
3) Stay neutral.

Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you, so comment below and/or show me some love and click on the green heart.