Losers visualize the penalties of failure

Winners visualize the rewards of success

~ Unknown

Recently I have run across several articles discussing ways to change behavior or, in other words, how to develop good habits. It has always been a mystery to me, why it is so easy to develop a bad habit and so hard to develop a good habit. As I looked at this information it has confirmed something with which I have been struggling: I need a reward if I am going to do something I really don’t want to do. For some time now, when I think of something I should be doing or something someone has asked me to do, I feel resistance. My thought turns to, I don’t really want to do this, and what’s in it for me? Rather selfish, I would say, not the kind, giving person I would like to think I am. As I work through the process of considering the task and what reward there is to me, I find, at times, there is a great reward and I move forward into the task. At other times, a smaller reward, no resistance, and I proceed with the task. Sometimes it still feels like a big should, with a lot of resistance. I am currently working on one of those. I should do this task, it is for someone I care about. Unfortunately, I am not seeing any benefit to me other than helping this person and it will take time away from activities that greatly benefit me. I am glad to know I am not alone in needing rewards to develop good habits in my life and to help me determine what I can and cannot do.

The other topic discussed in the book is self-control. This is a biggy. Our society has moved into a love of quick fixes, which leads to addiction. Addiction offers a quick fix to the difficulties of life, but over time can lead one down the path of misery. I wrote about feeling stuffers in my first book Invite Joy into Your Life. Feeling stuffers are actions or substances that you use to not feel… You are using a feeling stuffer when you say I deserve this, you enjoy whatever this is while you are doing it, but later wish you hadn’t. Moving away from your addiction or feeling stuffer has a lot to do with self-control.

There is no evil that does not promise inducements…

Vices tempt you by the rewards they offer.

~ Seneca

A cigarette, or a pack; a glass of wine or a bottle; a brownie or the whole pan; shopping for more stuff, can all fix the stressful situation for a short period. Then you face the consequences of your behavior. Moving away from the feeling stuffers to a good habit can bring long-term ecstasy. How does one improve self-control? A healthy diet with lots of protein, and low in carbohydrates, balances the blood sugar and brain chemistry and allows one to make better choices. Good sleep, regular exercise, surrendering to what is, and not beating up on oneself are other measures one can take to improve your self-control and make better choices.

Another way to move from feeling stuffers into good habits is discussed in Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. There are three aspects of developing a habit. First comes the trigger or the cue, then the behavior, followed by the reward. You can change a habit by looking at each. For example, a patient came in to discuss her fatigue and weight gain. She was following the protein diet and had gained two pounds while everyone else had lost weight. She was quite annoyed. Instead of quitting, she looked at her behavior, wise woman that she is, and found the answer. It’s the candy I am eating in the middle of the afternoon because I am stressed at work, she said. Yes! I said and we both laughed. Then she wanted to know how to get rid of the sugar cravings. I laughed and said pray for help! I told her I had given up sugar for the year. Even though I question the sanity of that decision it has helped me many times when sugar has been calling my name. After three months, it is easier. I have found exercise in imperative to help with the sugar cravings. I have a better day (my reward), when I exercise. I get good sleep, count my blessings, and try to surrender to it is as it is. I continue to commit to myself and not eat sugar, which promotes better self-control, healthy brain chemistry and the ability to make better decisions. All good habits, which make me feel better, and allow me to fit into the clothes I was starting to outgrow: my rewards.

A final thought comes from an article in Martha Stewart Magazine ~ Stopped Cold by Andrea Bartz. It is about how fear can stop us cold. In her interview with Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct, Kelly suggests thinking about your scariest goal and imagine yourself years or decades from now having not achieved that goal… getting clear about the negative outcomes of not taking action is very motivating. As I read this, I was in the midst of whining about a situation that had been going on for a couple of years. It made me ask, do I want to be whining about this same situation five years from now? Does my darling husband, Bill, want to hear me whining about this situation for the next five year? No. I leaped into action and am making the changes that need to be made. Hard, yes, but looking long-term makes it easier.

The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it

but what he becomes by it

~ John Ruskin


  • As I have written this, even though I like the rewards, when I am true to myself, I am a better person, and that is the greatest reward
  • Taking time to consider the situations in my life and being able to say yes or no from a good place, allows me to be more fully present to the aspects of my life that are important to me
  • Making this change in my life, no sugar, committing to myself, has altered my life in wonderful ways
  • Considering if I want to keep whining about other aspects of my life for years to come, has motivated me to make other changes


  • My second book The Parent Guidebook ~ How to raise happy, healthy children with advice from a mom and nurse practitioner is available for purchase on my website, at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Horizon books in Traverse City and Petoskey, and If you would like to wait until my new website is launched, I will be offering two bundles of frequently bought together ( The Parent Guidebook, Invite Joy into Your Life, Joy! Cards or The Parent Guidebook and Gold Star Mug. I will keep you posted when this is available.
  • I am starting a Facebook Fan page. I need 25 likes to make it official. If you would be so kind as to do so, I would greatly appreciate it. Not able to do comments yet.
  • Facebook Fan page Contests – On April 12, my granddaughter Amelia’s first birthday, I will be starting a weekly contest through May 21, my daughter Stephanie’s birthday. I will write a Mary’s Musings asking a question or requesting an activity with a picture to be commented on Facebook. There will be two prize winners ~ my favorite and the one that gets the most likes. The first will be about What Women Want?

Till next time ~ Mary

Mary’s Musings are a random thought. It may be a quote, a question, an idea, or something happening in the world. Enjoy a moment to yourself and contemplate this thought. Ask yourself how it feels and where it leads. Breathe . . . and see where her musings take you.




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