Habits - how they can either make you or break you!
Kaisu Vihonen, neway.fi
Aristoteles, a philosopher from an Ancient Greece, once told that we are what we repeatedly do and therefore being excellent is not an action - it’s a habit. It is also been said that it is not possible to change your life unless you focus on those things that you do daily. An author of a best-seller book Eat that frog Brian Tracy highlights the secret behind successful people: they have adopted routines and habits they do frequently in their daily lives.
An entrepreneur Eben Pagan emphasises the importance of those habits we start our day with by saying that the first rituals that you do during the day is the highest leveraged ritual by far, because it has the effect of setting your mind, and setting the context for the rest of your day. So, what are those habits that can raise your happiness and success in this life into the highest possible level and how is it possible to have life-long habits?
“Life is too short is repeated often enough to be a cliche but this time it’s true. You don’t have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre. It’s not just pointless; it’s painful.” - Seth Godin
I woke up into the realisation about the power of our habits about a year ago when I was feeling really tired, inefficient and powerless. I felt that each day went by about the same: waking up in the morning after snoozing the alarm so many times that when I finally woke up I was in a hurry to get myself to work on time. I quickly took a shower, put on the clothes that I saw first when opening my closet, running into the bus stop and from there to work. The day went by feeling upset the way I looked because I hadn’t had enough time in the morning to do my hair and make up and I was feeling miserable and ineffectual after that kind of a rush in the morning. Those feelings determined my day and when I got home from work all I did was just sitting on the couch watching tv and complaining to my spouse how tired I was. The days went by similar to one another and I started to feel more and more like I was in a rat race and didn’t find the joy about my days nor about myself. When I now think about it, deep down I knew that something had to be changed. I just didn’t know where to start. I had become a slave of negative habits.
One day my brother came to visit us and told me about the book he had read. It was called The Miracle Morning written by a person called Hal Elrod. The book was about those every day habits that you start your day with. It introduced those small routines and daily habits that by doing them it would be possible to increase your happiness level and also to achieve anything you would ever want to have in this life. I knew I was in a serious need of transformation and asked my brother if he could lend me the book. The next time we saw each other he gave me the book and told me I could keep it cause I did seem to need it desperately. During the next weekend I read the whole book from cover to cover and for the first time for a long time I felt really excited about myself and about my life and started to realise what the power of our habits, the positive and the negative ones, really have in our lives.
For about a year now I’ve started my mornings with some simply habits and routines that have had an enormous positive impact on my life. Every morning when I wake up I write my gratitude journal. I use a tool called The Five Minute Journal which is a great way to start your day with positive thoughts. You can also just use a pen and a paper and write down a couple of things you are grateful for and also some positive affirmations you want to put into your subconscious mind. This habit only takes a couple of minutes and it sets your mood into a positive form straight when you wake up. After this I meditate for about 10 minutes. I just sit in a silence and breath. This habit allows your mind to wake up slowly and to focus on the present moment during your whole day. There are also many apps and guided meditation videos available for you to choose. After meditation I usually do some work out routine also. It depends on my schedule but I normally do a ten minutes long work out session at home by doing some abs, push ups and squats or by doing a short yoga session. A couple of times a week I also go for a quick morning run. This habit wakes up your body and gives you an enormous amount of endorphins that increase your feelings of positivity. These three small habits take me 30 minutes for the most and after that 30 minutes the feeling I have is always great! What has also changed is that now a days I prepare my breakfast, pick up those clothes I want to wear next day and back my pack in the evening so when I wake up and do my morning routines I can afterwards enjoy a slow shover and a healthy and nutritious breakfast before leaving to work. Of course I have to wake up earlier than I used to do but for me there is no turning back: I can tell you, those tiny habits have changed my whole life completely! I have become an energetic and positive person who wakes up each morning feeling excited for all those great things that the day has to offer. I have also started to set goals and visions about the future and all those things I want to achieve. And all this because of those three small habits I start my day with. It’s amazing! Other habits that have come into my daily routines during this year have been cutting down the time spending on internet and watching the television, reading at least 30 min a day and meditating also in the evenings before going to bed. These are really important things but I dare to say that those three small morning habits are the essential ones that have increased the level of my happiness.
“The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes, and the less effort it takes. “ - Arnold Schwarzenegger
When adopting some new habits and routines we often face the question of procrastination. How is it possible to make a habit that stays permanently in our lives? An actor, a former Governor of California and a body building champion Arnold Schwarzenegger writes in his book Total Recall about making a habit: "We vacuumed regularly; the dishes were always done, with nothing piling up; and the bed was always made, military-style. We were both into the discipline of getting up in the morning and straightening up before you leave the house. The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes, and the less effort it takes.” I’ve noticed the same thing when it comes to habits: the more you do it, the more automatic it will be. For example from the time we were small children we have had a habit to brush our teeth daily. It’s the same thing about having positive habits in your life. You do it for so long that it finally comes an automatic action in your daily life.
An entrepreneur and a co-founder of The Five Minute Journal Alex Ikonn talks in his vlog about how you can make one habit per month and focus only on that one specific habit. For example you can focus on getting to bed earlier or going to the gym specific times a week or something else you wanna make a habit with. He suggests that it’s better to focus on one habit per month rather than trying to apply to have ten new habits at the same time. By doing so, you are slowly building the life you have always wanted and month by month you become the best version of yourself!
If you really think about it, hitting the snooze button in the morning doesn’t even make sense. It’s like saying I hate getting up in the morning, so I do it over and over, and over and over again” - Demetri Martin
When applying for a new habit it is normal to start procrastinate at some point. You might feel your life has got so much better after taking some positive habits into your days so you feel you don’t need to apply those habits anymore to stay positive. I’m sorry to tell you, it doesn’t go that way. If you don’t have any caries in your teeth and you stop brushing them, you soon will have the caries. It’s the same thing about our other daily habits. There comes times in life when we feel ourselves tired, busy and fell out of the positive circle of habits. A co-founder of The Five Minute Journal UJ Ramdas talks about how we are all humans and how we all deal with procrastination and resistance. He although advices not to feel anxious or disappointment after skipping those daily positive habits. Instead of feeling guilty and depressed he tells us to sit down and think about all the positive impacts those habits and daily routines have on our lives. Blaming yourself doesn’t take you or your habits anywhere. The more important it is to remember all the positive impacts those habits have in your life and then focus on that to re-build your habits and to make them automatic.
The new year is ahead and I think many of us are considering to make some new year’s resolutions. Instead of making a list of tens of thousands of promises I challenge you to think some small habits you wanna add into your days so that the quality of your life will increase and you will feel productive and satisfied with yourself. Think of the routines that can increase your level of happiness daily! And I dare to say, after considering those habits, after writing them down and after starting to adapt them into your life, your days will be full of joy, peace and success. Adopting a few positive habits into your life will increase the quality of your time and you will have your year filled with enjoyment and possibilities!
“An extraordinary life is all about daily, continuos improvements in the areas that matter the most.” - Robin Sharma
Kolme yksinkertaista tapaa aloittaa päivä hyväntuulisena (kesto 5-30 minuuttia)
1. Kirjoita paperille muutamia asioita, joista olet kiitollinen. Keskity positiivisiin asioihin. Se lisääntyy, mihin huomio kiinnittyy.
2. Istu hiljaisuudessa 3-10 minuuttia ja keskity vain omaan hengitykseesi. Mieli ja keho ovat kokoajan yhteydessä toisiinsa.
3. Nosta sykettäsi ja tehosta verenkiertoasi pienellä liikunnalla esimerkiksi nostelemalla käsipainoja, tekemällä kyykkyjä tai vaikkapa hyppimällä paikallasi minuutin ajan.
Opi lisää tavoista ja niiden vaikutuksista elämässäsi!