Cup by Cup

This photo was taken by flickr user Mike_fleming and is protected by a creative commons attribution license.

I’m welcoming June into my home this morning with open arms.  The windows are open, I have a hot cup of tea in hand, and I just finished up a nice batch of golden raspberry freezer jam.  June is going to be a busy month.  I have new yoga classes popping up all the time, I have observations to do to finish my kid’s yoga certification, and I’m heading to Belize in a few weeks!  On top of that, I have all sorts of ideas floating around in my head for blog posts.  Actually getting them posted in a timely manner is always the tricky part, though, so I’m starting with what’s right in front of me: tea (not coffee).

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee.  I love the way it tastes, but I don’t like feeling like I need coffee to get going in the morning.  I don’t like feeling dependent on something external for something so central to living my life.  What frustrates me even more is that I buy coffee to make at home, but I still find myself grabbing coffee a couple of times a week while I’m out.  This isn’t the end of the world, but my budget is pretty tight, and it’s definitely become a pattern.  I’ve quit drinking coffee completely before, but it never lasts too long.  Once I get over feeling dependent on the stuff, I’m more than happy to let it back in to my life.  The problem is that it always seems to creep back in and take over, and I think that has to do with certain habits that I’ve neglected to change.  I think it has to do with coffee shops.

Breaking Habits by Changing Patterns

This had been on my mind when I read a guest post by Charles Duhigg at Get Rich Slowly last month.   In his post he talks about how habits like this really have three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward.   Essentially, any time you find yourself stuck in a specific routine, it helps to identify what your getting out of it and what’s triggering your behavior.  Once you have done that, you have to avenues for altering the pattern.

Reading this article encouraged me to make one small change to my coffee habit, at least for the month of June.  For the month of June, I’m going to try to remove the temptation of grabbing a cup of coffee and curling into a coffee shop corner.  I’m focusing on Wednesdays.  See, every Wednesday there’s a meeting in my office.  Since I’m  just doing data entry work, there’s really no reason for me to stay for the meeting, so I usually just take off at that time, wander down the street with my laptop, grab a coffee and a muffin or something, and attempt to get some work done there.  But the screen on my laptop is too small.  And I get distracted too easily.  And it’s a recurring expense that I could easily do without.  It’s really not very productive or helpful at all.  I was aware that this had become a pattern and that it wasn’t serving me in a positive way, but it wasn’t until I read this post that I really thought about fixing it.  It’s simple.  Starting in June, I’m just going to come into work after the meeting is over.  I can work from home if I feel like it, I can drink all the coffee I want, and I can even squeeze in a yoga class or a bank run if I need to.  It’s a much better fit for me.

Creating Abundance

Whenever I do actually quit drinking coffee, I feel like I’m depriving myself.  I was sitting with a friend at a coffee shop yesterday, discussing small changes like this, and I was reminded of the idea that the best changes we can make in our lives are positive ones, ones that create abundance and give us a sense of living our lives more fully.  Instead of giving up coffee completely, this month I’m reminding myself that I really do enjoy a good cup of tea, but I hardly ever drink it.  Usually because I’m drinking coffee.  So, for June, I’m creating a daily ritual for myself that involves making and drinking tea.  Coffee is not out of the picture necessarily, but tea is definitely in.  If I still want coffee after I’ve had my tea for the day, it’s there for me, but I suspect that tea will be enough most days and I’ll be able to release my attachment to coffee without feeling like I’m depriving myself.

What do you think?  Are there certain patterns you can change in your own life to help you alter your habits without feeling deprived?  Is there anything you can do to fill your life with more positive experiences rather than beating yourself up over habits that don’t serve you?

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