‘Freedom is the power to make the decision today that is the best for our future self’
Habits are behaviors that are acted out subconsciously. They create grooves in our brains, which is what makes them so hard to change. A habit can be lighting up a cigarette first thing in the morning or lacing up your running shoes first thing in the morning. Both are subconscious, behavioral and automatic.
Our habits define us. They are what encourage us to make the decisions we make every day. The decisions that we make shape our lives and lead us to blissful self-expression or a downward spiral of self-destruction.
The body loves routine, so when we settle into one it becomes very comfortable and difficult to change. Is your routine energizing and exciting or is it causing you to gain weight, feel lethargic, and take you out of touch with yourself?
When it comes to nutrition, having good habits is everything. Will I have a croissant for breakfast or a fresh organic mango? Will I pick up a bag of walnuts for a snack or a donut? Will I eat fast food for lunch or something from the Co-op?
So many decisions are made in haste and have only short-term benefits: I’m in a hurry, I’m craving something sweet, it’s the only thing in my house/office/purse.
Being mindful enables you to break out of habits that inhibit your ability to make the best decision for yourself, and to instantly become more energized and joyful.
What’s important to know is that changing one habit creates a domino effect, so making more changes becomes very natural and enjoyable. This is why it’s crucial to focus on one thing at a time.
Drink a latte every morning? Switch to green tea 3 days a week. Those caffeine (and dairy) cravings will quickly quiet down. Love snacking on candy bars or ice cream? Try natural sugars such as berries, and when indulging look for delicious and chemical free dark chocolate covered pretzels, or coconut-based ice cream alternatives. Used to unwinding at happy hour after work with your colleagues? Try hitting a spin class or finding an interesting talk to attend.
The key is not to cut out things you love, but to replace them with more wholesome habits that you can still enjoy and that create positivity in your life.
A huge part of emotional and physical health is paying attention to your mind-body connection. If you constantly fall prey to habits that you know aren’t good you create a conflict in your system. When you make positive, mindful decisions, your personal environment becomes harmonious, leading to more overall happiness and wellness.
Steps to changing habits
- Introspect – What habit do you do every day that you want to change- pick ONE. Eating late at night? Too much sugar? Facebook addiction? Ask yourself, why do you do these things?
- Cultivate the opposite habit – Drink calming tea at night instead of eating – a lot of times we think we’re hungry when we’re actually just thirsty. Look for something to snack on without added sugars. Read an interesting article or watch a TED talk instead of flipping to Facebook to zone out. Take time to think and be MINDFUL- don’t look for a quick fix.
- Be gentle with yourself – Big change starts with small steps. The most important thing is to have the right intention and to constantly reinforce the fact that you are not controlled by your habits. Remember one positive change leads to many more.
- Have a buddy – When you tell someone your goal is becomes that much more real. We tend to feel more obligated to succeed when someone else is watching and supporting us. Set a goal with a friend or partner and notice how much more motivated and committed you feel.
- Listen to your body – When you notice your cravings or bad tendencies your habits are no longer subconscious. They are out in the open and available for you to recognize and choose a better option. In need of caffeine around 3pm? Talk a brisk walk around your building for ten minutes and breathe deeply- it will energize you and get you to do something different than just heading to the vending machine or coffee shop.
Remember that change comes from will power. You must have the will power to want to get the most out of your life. When you commit to doing the best for yourself your life will become a lot more harmonious, with love, opportunity and happiness appearing in abundance.