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When we try to change some aspect of ourselves the risk is that we fail and, rather than driving out the traits we want to lose, we strengthen them. Even if they don’t become stronger, our failed attempts discourage us and reinforce negative belief about ourselves.

If you have tried and failed to change a habit or something about yourself that you don’t like, you may have noticed this.

If you want to avoid this cycle of best-intentions-leading-to-failure then it is vital to try a different approach to bring about change. Instead of going down the same old path, I recommend going in the opposite direction; rather than struggling to escape something you don’t want in your life, it is easier and more enjoyable to head for something you do want.

When a strategy fails surely it should be a signal to try something new, and there is a formula that is far more attractive and less risk-prone than the old method of forcing ourselves to make change. It is blindingly obvious and simple, but the simplicity often escapes us: Rather then trying to escape something you don’t want, move instead towards something you do want.

How do you do this? Examples illustrate it best:

Rather than trying to stop smoking, become a non-smoker (non-smokers don’t smoke, so you won’t need to stop anything, simply do what non-smokers do).

Want to stop arguing? Then become a student of harmony and practicing a little each day.

Fed up with feeling guilty (for no good reason), adopt a compassionate mindset towards others and yourself.

If you would like to stop eating meat, create an interesting menu that includes the ingredients you’d prefer to eat.

Any time you want to bring about change, start by developing a clear image of how you’ll be after the change has happened, then head towards it.

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