Creating Habits for a Happier & Healthier Life

Creating Habits

That drive-thru Starbucks used to be exciting. It would start my day with a smile. I remember thinking that my excitement for something so mundane was strange. Maybe it’s an adult thing, I thought? A hot cup of half-caf handed to me with a big smile… Sad reality or small victory? Either way, I took it. It turned into another day. And then another. Now, who knows. I also remember the morning when I added an egg and cheese sandwich to my order. I was starving and hadn’t planned anything… a classic excuse. Whatever…just this once… right?

As I enter the last year of my glorious twenties, I’ve been struck with some terrible form of really-an-adult-syndrome. Extra bites have quickly become extra pounds. Skipped workouts turn into tweaked muscles. My back hurts from simple ol’ life and one or two time indulgences get tangled in a web of deep woven habits that are incredibly hard to kick. I start counting how long I’ve been doing this or that, how long I’ve run with this crowd or that friend, how long I’ve been telling myself I’ll do x, y or z… and sometimes, I run out of fingers…. I’m old enough that some habits are more than two hands of fingers. That’s terrifying to me and honestly, it often makes me think about that day when we’ll wake up and be out of time. All those, “just this once” actions will add up to a life uneventfully lived. Will we look back on our book of life and be proud? Will we feel a rush of accomplishment and smile with the satisfaction of completing what we set out to do? I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to.

We Are What We Repeatedly Do

To me, all of this means that I need to take responsibility for my actions and create a better body, mind and space for my soul to grow gracefully and in good health. Habits like eating out, drinking alcohol on a regular basis, skipping workouts and good sleep hours, being too lazy for organization, planning and preparations, and countless other toxic behaviors began at some point, as a result of some cue that sparked a reaction. Today is the day we take control of those actions and confront the behaviors that have adopted a mind of their own. Today we set out for the tough journey ahead; We’ll have to face our fears, work with our weaknesses, identify our strengths, keep an open mind, allow ourselves to be uncomfortable, be accepting of change, embrace our behaviors and bond with our inner selves. We will work together to transform our daily habits, create new healthy behaviors and strive for optimal health and happiness. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to take control of our lives!

READING ASSIGNMENT:
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Ever beat yourself up for your seeming inability to control your actions, stick to your word or miraculously transform your life after a good night sleep? Prepare yourself for an incredible read that will reveal just how human you are and how hard your brain has been working to help you with the creation and execution of habits. Explore the scientific side of habits, learn about successful cases of habit creating and changing throughout history and discover the potential you have in life and business when you properly harness your daily habits.

The Power of Habit

DAILY HABIT ASSIGNMENT:
Think about something small that you’ve wanted to incorporate into your daily life. Some kind of action or process that’s good for you and will leave you feeling great about yourself. Some examples could be taking your vitamins, drinking a glass of water when you wake up or making your bed. For me, my thing is flossing. I’ve never been successful at flossing and desperately want to be. Oral health is very serious, problems with the teeth and gums are very expensive, painful and inconvenient, and IT’S SO EASY TO FLOSS FOR LIKE 2 MINUTES A DAY!!! Right?!? I mean, it SHOULD BE!! Ok, ok… So once you’ve identified your action/process, decide what your cue will be – at what point of your day will you do this thing – you must do it everyday, without fail, so try to think of something that happens everyday. Your cue can be anything from a time of day to another action you always complete, like getting out of bed, grabbing your bag to leave the house, getting to the office, dropping off the kids at school, when the clock strikes 11am, an alarm that you set, etc… My cue for flossing is brushing my teeth. Easy, I thought. I brush my teeth and that will set off flossing. As soon as I’m done brushing, I can’t leave the sink until I floss. Ohh, and I have mouthwash, I thought… that will be tingly after flossing. It was. It felt awesome. Each night that followed I practiced the same sequence. It’s been 3 weeks and hands down, the longest I’ve successfully flossed. It’s starting to become routine – something I do even when I’m tired. The nights I’ve skipped it were accompanied by feeling down on myself and I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when I got back to it the next day. More than anything, this small daily habit has helped me experience the power of habit and with each day that passes, I believe more and more in myself and my ability to succeed.

Success String of Victories

REFLECT & WRITE DOWN YOUR REWARDS
Our rewards control us, almost completely. Emotions, sensations, material goods, business and beyond… Our rewards are limitless and each person is driven by something slightly different. Take some time to journal and reflect on what drives you. Think about your daily habits – no matter how big or small. What do those habits do for you? Maybe nothing now…. but what about when they started? What sensation or satisfaction were you after when you began that behavior all those days/months/years/decades ago? This should be a judgement free process that you will almost certainly get caught judging yourself throughout. As any negative thoughts cross your mind, stop, take 3 long deep breaths and remind yourself that you are working to replace toxic behaviors of the present and past with healthy habits of the future. Be honest, be open and believe in your ability to succeed.

To overcoming whatever is holding you back and creating a life of endless health and happiness,
Rachel

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