What IS safety, anyway?
Dictionary.com offers this definition:“noun, plural safe·ties. 1. the state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss. 2. the quality of averting or not causing injury, danger, or loss. 5. the action of keeping safe.“
Looking at the above definitions, why not define safety as a “habit of freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss?”
From Dictionary.com again, a habit is “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.” Did you notice the example given is a habit that deals with safety – “looking both ways before crossing the street?”
Ah, habits. The things we do while on auto-pilot. It is easy to stay safe for 1 minute, perhaps 15 minutes. Then the ol’ mind begins to wander; “Wonder how the Pirates will do in the playoffs?”, “Why do kicks keep getting harder to find?”, “What’s for supper, and I’d better not forget the milk.”
The mind likes to stay busy and it doesn’t always concentrate on the task at hand. This is a good reason to develop the habit of safety, to keep us safe when we are not totally engaged in the moment.
Habits take a while to form. Some say as few as 14 repetitions will do the trick, others say longer. And here’s the rub: if you skip a day, it’s kind of like rebooting – you feel like you have to start again.
Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net suggests the four habits that form habits ( I know, sounds a little recursive ):
- Start small. For example, if you want to form the habit of doing a 360 before entering your vehicle, start doing it when you leave the house in the morning.
- Be mindful of negative thoughts. Your mind is a survival tool. It hates change, change invites disaster. It knows that you have been surviving all your life without doing that 360. Therefore, it is up to you to use the conscious mind to push those negative thoughts out of the way.
- Savor the habit. Enjoy the extra few steps around the vehicle before you get in. Forget about the long-range goal, just enjoy the process of walking around and pride of ownership of the vehicle.
- Have a plan for when you falter. Re-start the habit when you miss doing the 360. Keep from faltering by doing a 360 when you use your car on weekends. Have an accountability partner.
Remember that a good life is a collection of good habits. When you form the habit of forming habits of safety, you have given yourself a tool that you can use to form positive habits in your personal life.