Small Gestures and Large Habits of Mind

The best thing we can do to improve our circumstances is to observe our patterns of mind and choose which ones we want to keep and replace the others. Mental patterns are always at work; seemingly inconsequential behaviors can be indicative of a mental habit worth considering.
My rural jogging route has me on a moderately busy road for about a hundred yards as I cross from my neighborhood to the next one over, and it’s across the street. Recently, as I approached the intersection I noticed my own behavior: I looked over my shoulder to see if traffic was approaching me from behind. Surely all of us do the same. But what struck me was that I did this even though I wasn’t ready to cross yet and I could clearly hear the traffic coming up behind me. One could say “never too safe” when crossing roads, but in this case, my looking back was not about safety… I wasn’t even at the intersection yet, so there was no urgent need to look back; and by hearing alone I could gauge how many cars were behind me and how close they were, yet I turned my head for a second opinion.
Obviously, when it is time to cross the road, I look both ways, and I would never recommend otherwise. However I posed a couple of questions to myself: why am I looking back when I’m not ready to cross the road yet? and why am I looking back when I know there are cars behind me? I had no good answer for either question. It’s like repeatedly checking for your boarding pass on the way to the airport… it comes from not trusting one’s own senses. I know I have my boarding pass, so no need to check. I know there is a car behind me, so no need to look back.
These small behaviors brought to my attention a mental habit I need to improve: trust my senses (not trusting my senses mucks with intuition too). As I change my behavior in these small arenas, that new mental habit trickles in to other areas of my life.