Being positive with oneself and others, being aware that we always have a choice in our responses, and using reflection to actuate behavioral change is, for most of us, a paradigm shift in learning. Implementing these three noncoercive practices promotes responsibility, increases our effectiveness, improves our relationships, and reduces stress.
In a way it is, as Stephen Covey says, like being fitted for and wearing new glasses. It takes a little learning and getting used to, but the brain adapts by making new neural connections. The more we practice, the stronger the reinforcement, the more glial cells our brain manufactures, and the easier and more creative we are in the use of the principles.
So as not to fall back on previous habits and approaches, it is necessary always to be aware of our choices. This is what is meant in the expression, “Live in the present.” You can do this very simply by learning to say to yourself before any action, “I am choosing to…”
Teaching young people—and yourself—to start with this internal dialog, “I am choosing to…,” is perhaps the most effective way to live a more fulfilling life. The reason is that awareness is the first step toward being in control and changing unsuccessful habits.