Most people think of a habit as something that is bad for us; something we need to break or stop, but there are many habits we can start; habits we can strive for that can be very good for us. There are many theories about how long it takes to create a new habit, or break an old one, but I think it really depends on the person. Some habits may be more difficult and therefore will take a bit longer, while others may come quite easily. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be determined and don’t give up if you falter a bit. Here is a list of good habits to work toward. I think you’ll find that positive changes will help you grow as a person, and will lead you to a happier you.
Get up earlier in the morning
When I was in my teens and 20’s, I relished the opportunity to sleep in; every chance I got and for as long as possible! While that’s good to do from time to time, getting up earlier in the morning can prove to be a great eye opener! Whether you spend the time meditating, working out, going for a walk, enjoying a cup of tea, or visiting with your significant other a wee bit longer than normal, the extra time, well spent, can be very rewarding. Watching the sun come up, for example can make you more aware of nature and give you the enjoyment of seizing the moment that many others take for granted. If you find yourself rushed in the mornings, that extra time may start your day out a little less stressful and help you feel more together. If the idea seems daunting to you, start small. Begin with 15 minutes until you become accustomed to the change, then add another 15. It lends a feeling of accomplishment and I think you will find it refreshing.
If you’ve never practiced meditation before, there is a lot of information on the web. There are also books and DVD’s for beginners that explain the basics as well as more advanced lessons. I suggest anything by Rodney Yee. I have read his books and own several DVD’s for meditation and Yoga and he is very easy to listen to and lends a peacefulness to the process which makes it enjoyable. Even if you only meditate for 10 minutes a few times a week for starters, you will benefit from calming your mind and allotting some time to truly relax. We all need this to shed stress and connect with the peacefulness inside us. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and has not always been seen in western civilizations as a serious practice, however many medical professionals encourage meditation now, and see it as a healthy addition to well-being. According to The Mayo Clinic, meditation can help many illnesses such as allergies, anxiety, asthma, binge eating, cancer, depression, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, sleep problems, and substance abuse. Meditation is even seen in the animal kingdom. Have you ever watched your pet find a comfortable spot and gaze out a window or across a field? Research has shown that many animals practice this calming ritual and believe it has the same benefits to them as to humans. When I meditate, my dog and cat both come into the room and join me. It is as though they sense the calming, peacefulness. They both sit quietly in stillness with me. Whether you meditate in the morning, mid-day, or before bed, meditation can bring you a calm sense of self and add some peacefulness to your life.
As with meditation, there is a wealth of information about the benefits of Yoga. It is a low stress exercise that has been proven to aid in circulation, digestion, eliminate toxins, clear the mind, improve posture, improve balance, relieve joint pain, improve breathing, and relieve stress. Many people think of Yoga and expect they will have to be able to twist themselves into a human pretzel, but this is not true. There are many different kinds of Yoga such as prenatal Yoga, relaxation Yoga, and power Yoga, so whatever your age or body type, there is a Yoga that will fit your needs. If you avoid strenuous exercise because it seems difficult, Yoga can help you become more flexible, strengthen muscles, and make your body and mind more powerful. Yoga also helps with focus. I have a daughter who is diagnosed with ADD. As some of you know, ADD is a disorder caused by the brains inability to process information at the average rate. A child without ADD processes information in about 3 seconds, where an ADD child can take up to 14 seconds to process the same information. Both meditation and Yoga have helped my daughter focus and has the ability to calm her mind allowing for quicker responses and faster processing of information. The key to making Yoga a new habit is to go slowly. If you don’t feel you can master the positions exactly like the Yoga instructor, do what you can and don’t be discouraged. Each time you practice Yoga, the movements will become easier and your flexibility will improve. Set aside time as often as you can whether it’s once or twice a week, or every morning. If you prefer gathering with others, most towns offer Yoga classes. Check your local school, church, or community center. Once you begin to notice the benefits, you will look forward to Yoga and find a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction is becoming healthier in mind and body.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a fantastic writer, journaling is good for the mind, body, and soul. We all have thoughts, feelings, and ideas floating around in our heads. We often don’t share these thoughts with others due to lack of time, or attention. Maybe we even feel that others wouldn’t be interested or would think our thoughts are silly or repetative. It is important to accept, acknowledge, and love our own minds. Mindfulness has been described as, “the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness”. Journaling will help you become more mindful because it allows you to take a quiet moment and truly get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. By writing down your thoughts, things you’re thankful for, ideas, feelings, or even dreams, you are purposfully acknowledging what is in your heart and mind and gaining to ability to accept yourself. Journaling also gives you something tangible to reflect back on later, which can make you aware of how you’ve grown over time and remind you of hurdles you have overcome. This will help prevent you from “bottling up” feelings or treating them as if they’re not important and will give you a better sense of what you want from your life.
One of the biggest hurdles we have in our lives that keeps us from accomplishing our goals and dreams is our own feeling of inability. We allow self-doubt to hold us back, then find ourselves looking back in time and saying, “if only I had done this or that when I was younger, or when I had the money, or when I had more time”. If there is something you want, the time to strive for it is now. Even if you have to take baby steps toward your goal, the act of doing anything toward that goal is better than inactivity. Visualizing your goal and yourself accomplishing the goal is a very positive way to move forward and avoid feelings of failure. It has been said that, “If you are searching for that one person who will change your life, take a look in the mirror”. While you may want the support of family and friends, the only person who can truly make your dreams come true is you! Take a few moments a day and sit quietly. Picture yourself at a crossroad and acknowledge that one road will take you to the same place you have been, while the other road will take you to the destination you’re seeking. Imagine yourself the way you want to be; strong, capable, healthy, and begin to walk down that path. Recognize what needs to be done to make the trip successful and begin to see it as something you CAN accomplish. By picturing your hopes and dreams, you will begin to replace the feelings of doubt and inability with thoughts of what you need to do next. You will convince your mind that this goal IS in reach and begin to accept the responsibility to make it happen.
Rid your life of the toxic elements
If you were to make yourself a pot of tea, you would boil the water, add tea bags, maybe some honey or lemon. Would you decide to add a little bleach? A teaspoon of weed killer? Of course not, so why would you allow toxic things in your life? Toxic people, poisonous attitudes, and unhealthy behaviors taint your mind, body and soul just as toxic chemicals would ruin your tea. Identify people who keep you down or make you feel unable to make the changes you long for. If eliminating a person from your life completely seems harsh or isn’t possible, then at least address the issue and expect respect even if they can’t or won’t give you support. Your dreams are precious to your life and well-being, so stand up for them, defend them, protect them so they can grow. If you’re spending a great deal of time on something that you really don’t want to be doing, make some changes with that time in order to open it up for the things you truly want to be doing. By stopping the behavior that is stripping you of joy, you will tell yourself that time is worth something good and you will begin to believe that you have as much ability to attain your goals as any other person, and you will show those who are not supportive that you are stronger than their desire to hold you back.
Sometimes the goals and dreams we have are not necessarily commonplace for others in our lives. In my life, for example, I am not surrounded by writers. My husband works with computers and programming, my kids are involved with their friends, school, and plans for their own futures, and most of my friends have interests that are not always the same as mine. In order to get the support we all need, sometimes it is necessary to seek people outside our everyday life. If you find this is true, join a club, take an art class or writing seminar. If your goal is to lose weight, join a gym or weight watchers group. If your dream involves a further education, join a study group with other college students that have similar goals. The internet has endless possibilities for support groups, blogs, and internet communities of people with the same mindset as you. You may even find that encouraging others will also reinforce your own encouragement. It’s nice for me when my family or friends say something positive about my writing, but there is always that voice in my head suggesting they are just telling me that because they don’t want to discourage me. By seeking people outside your everyday life, people who have the same interests, people who don’t have anything to gain by encouraging you or giving you constructive criticism, you will give yourself a very helpful resource for your goals. Become a sponge for positivity. Absorb every ounce of it you can. This positivity will help you grow and will bring your goals into the forefront of your life.
When standing at a crossroad and being aware that a change is needed, it is important to evaluate. Evaluate your needs. Evaluate your unhealthy habits and negative mindsets. Do not allow the business of life to get in the way. Clear out the clutter and make room for positive habits in place of unhealthy ones. Create positivity. Welcome encouragement. Repel negativity. Become one with the knowledge that life has great things in store for you and that you are bound for the destination of your dreams!
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”