Our quality of life is greatly determined by how we feel every day. If we feel stressed and tired everyday, our quality of life will reflect this general feeling. An endless to-do list and deadlines can get us feeling like we’re in a rut with no way out. And this, of course, doesn’t even take into consideration any other conditions or situations we may be dealing with on top of our daily life challenges.
If all our time is taken up with these preoccupations, there is no space left for cultivating health happiness. These things don’t happen overnight; they are the result of daily practices that create these outcomes. This means that the most powerful way to change this is by changing how you live each day. As Aristotle wisely said:
“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Health and happiness, just like excellence, are the outcomes of habits.
Now, starting new habits isn’t always the hard part; maintaining them is the hard part. This is why we have a hard time maintaining New Year’s resolutions. They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit, and 4 months to solidify it. So if you want to create new habits, you’ve got to be committed for the long run.
Here are four things to remember when you are creating new habits. Use all of these, and you will be much more likely to be successful!
Has anyone told you that they’ve been trying out this new diet and it’s working great, so you hop on board just to find out that it doesn’t work for you at all? The same applies when it comes to creating healthy habits. We are all unique, so we must all find what works for us. Of course, there are a few habits like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep that we all need to solidify, but when it comes to other habits such as exercise, nutrition and relaxation, we have to try them out different ones to find out which ones work. Remember that creating a habit should challenge you, but it should also be enjoyable.
Give it a fair chance though, try something out for a couple of weeks before deciding if you like it or not.
If you’re interested in creating a habit of deep breathing, you can use this heart to guide you and keep you focused!
If you want to create a new habit, set yourself a goal you can maintain. For example, if you want start exercising regularly, start with a goal of exercising two to three times per week. Once you’re comfortable with this, increase the frequency to four to five times per week, and so on.
The logic behind this is based on the internal reward system. When you achieve a goal, your internal reward system is activated and you produce endorphins. These make you feel good about yourself and motivated to keep going, so you’re more likely to continue keep up your new habit. With the exercise scenario, if you set yourself the goal of exercising twice in the week and you end up exercising three times, you’ll feel great about yourself and motivated to keep going.
On the other hand, if you set a goal and don’t reach it, you feel quite disappointed in yourself and will want to give up. Keeping the same example, if you set yourself the goal of exercising five times in the week and only exercised three times, you’ll feel disappointed in yourself and won’t want to continue with this new habit as it leads to a negative outcome, even the amount of exercise is the same as in the first scenario.
Creating a new habit can be hard as it requires you to do something that doesn’t feel natural to you. This means that you need to consciously make the effort to practice your new habit every day, or every couple of days, until it becomes second nature to you.
A little trick to make this easier is to start each day off with a healthy habit to get you motivated to keep going for the rest of the day. If you put it off until the end of the day, you’re more likely to put it off for tomorrow, or even worse, next week. If you get it done first thing in the morning, you can cross it off your list, you’ll produce those endorphins as you’ve reached your goal, and you’ll feel good about yourself for accomplishing an important task.
Having a person you trust or a supportive community backing you makes it much easier to carry through with your new habits as you’ll have support and motivation to keep going.
Tell someone about your new habits and goals, and get them to join your help keep you accountable. If you’d like, you can also join the My Soul Challenge Facebook group to keep you motivated. You’ll find new challenges to try and a community of people who are motivated to create great habits so they can feel their best and reach their greatest potential!