Do you have bad habits? Of course you do: we all do. And January is likely the month we are most likely to want to break those bad habits. Which may be why you are reading this.
If you’re thinking it’s too hard, I’ve have this good piece in: Wired on how you can effectively do that. They talk to neuroscientists and psychologists to show how you can get on the right track to better habits. Specifically, there are two areas they think you should focus on:
- The Power of Data, Environmental Factors, and History
- Picking Your Habit, Digging Deeper, and Creating a Plan
That’s pretty classic stuff, by the way. Logging and planning are the two fundamental things you need to do if you are going to chance.
Read it for yourself and decide. Good luck with those upcoming changes.
TIME recently surveyed a range of happiness experts to discover their happiness habits. Here’s the list of habits they mostly did daily and weekly:
- Get seven or more hours of sleep a night
- Personal hobby (art, writing, music, cooking, reading, gaming)
- Exercise / play sports
- Spend time in nature
- Spend time with friends outside of office/professional setting
- Spend time with family outside of household
- Engage with support groups or therapist
Simple, yes? Not easy, though. The not easy part comes in because one of the common themes for each habit is Spend Time. How you choose to allocate your time makes a key difference in how happy we are. Sometimes you don’t even have a choice. Responsibilities and obligations can rob you of choices. Such theft, leaves you with little time to buy your happiness.
Try and guard your time as best as you can. Then spend it on yourself and your happiness. You deserve it.
P.S. Here is the TIME piece: The Daily Habits of Happiness Experts, It provides more detail.
P.S.S. Will doing all these things guarantee your happiness? No, of course not. Good happiness habits are to happiness what good exercise habits are to fitness: they will work for many people, but not all. Like with any advice on the Internet, if it’s not working for you, see a professional or an expert and get the help you need.
I am not sure about this, but these two pieces argue that ritual is the thing you need to live a better life:
I can see value in ritual. But ritual can be as bad as a habit in that they both can lock you into behaviours that limit your life rather than freeing it. But read and judge for yourself.
Not that ritual is essential. Sometimes just a good habit can help. For example, the artist Charles Ray walks to Burger King every day and finds value in that.
Now there are a million lists of such habits. However, I liked this recent one from the New York Times: Our Favorite Healthy Habits of 2021. Here are three of their favorites that are my favorites too:
- Enjoy exercise snacks.
- Take a gratitude photo.
- Give the best hours of your day (or week – B) to yourself.
I’ve been doing the first one and I found it very useful. Even just some simple stretching each day makes a difference. As for the second one, every day I write down one thing I am grateful for and it makes me better too. As for the last one, I do that every weekend when I sit down to blog on Saturday. I need to it more often and during the week, too.
One healthy habit I need to revisit is biking/cycling. If you need convincing, read this by Clive Thompson. Austin Kleon is also a fan. Fun exercise is one of the best healthy habits you can take up.
Spring is a good time to adopt some healthy habits. I hope you can find some.
Yesterday I wrote about building up a new habit. Some habits do not require you to gain new skills (e.g. eat more fruit, walk every day). Some habits do (e.g. learning to code, draw, run a 10K). When you first try to build up new habits in those areas, you are going to suck. Your code will suck, your drawings will look like crap, your running might be difficult and painful. To deal with this, you need to do two things.
One thing is to make your goal to suck less in the time to build up your new habit. If you are drawing every day, don’t worry if it sucks. Aim to suck less than the last day. To do that, you will need to do two things:
- pay attention to where your new habit sucks and make some notes on where they suck
- research how to make such suckage go away
- apply what you learned from your research
If you are learning to run and it is hard, research how to make it easier. Maybe you need to stretch more, maybe you need to vary your routine, maybe you need to just cut yourself some slack. If you are learning to draw, maybe you need to draw different things, or maybe you need to draw the same thing every day, or maybe you need better media. You get the idea.
For more good advice on this, see this post by Austin Kleon. In that post you can get a PDF of the calendar pictured above if you need a way to track your progress to less suckage.
And what happens if you keep working on sucking less? Eventually you will find you don’t suck at all. (Or if you do think you suck, everyone else will think you are good and wonder why you think that. :))
It’s a new year, and you may not only be fed up with the pandemic but with the bad habits you picked up during the pandemic. You – ok, and me! – need new habits. While there a billion trillion guides on how to build healthy habits, here’s a nice article from the New York Times to help get you going: How to Build Healthy Habits.
In a nutshell:
- Start small and stack/tie your new habit
- Do it daily
- Make it easy
- Reward yourself
Stacking or tying your new habit involves tying your new habit to your daily habits and routines. For example, if you drink several cups of coffee each day and you want a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, then have a piece of fruit every time you go have a coffee. To make it easy, put the bowl of fruit next to the coffee machine. To reward yourself, have a small — small, not big! — piece of chocolate after completing the new habit. To do it daily, tie it to a routine or current habit you do daily or more.
Remember it takes time to build a new habit. According to the article, building a new habit can take “from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days”. So give yourself some time. And start small and pace yourself.
A few more thoughts:
- If it starts getting boring, challenge yourself. Or vary your habit.
- If it starts getting hard, cut back, perhaps to the minimum amount (but not zero).
- Get a coach or cheerleader, even if it your spouse, your best friend, or even your kids. (Kids love to cheerlead if they get to make noise. :))
- Track that new habit. I like the journal below. Other people like putting Xs through a calendar. Whatever makes you proud of your accomplishments.
- At first, focus on the fact you are started. Don’t think about how far you are going. Think about that you are going at all.
(Top Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash. Bottom Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash)
Are you more worried these days? Ha! I know you are: I see your tweets and your socials! Hey, it’s fine. These are difficult days. That’s not a licence to worry your head off though. Difficult or not, being able to worry less is a good skill to have.
If you don’t think it is a skill you have much of, read this. It will give you good practical tips to deal effectively with your worrying. Better yet, read it with a pen and paper handy; when you are done, write down a practical plan to change your worrying.
Worrying is a habitual way of thinking that can cause you damage. The good news is you can break that habit and change your thinking and have it shift away from worrying. Worrying is like smoking or eating badly or any other harmful behaviors. Behaviors you can change. So set your mind on a different form of being. You’ll be calmer and more positive soon enough.
(Photo by Henrikke Due on Unsplash)
Perhaps you’ve developed some bad habits over the pandemic. Habits you want to shake off. You might need help developing new and better ones.
Here’s two things that can help. First is James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He takes a methodical approach to how habits form and how you can break them.
Second, there is the habitlist app that can help keep you going on your way to building new habits.
If you really struggle with developing new habits, try this. Make up a habit that takes little time and effort and practice making it a new habit. For example, you could take 30 seconds each day just to stretch. Or 10 seconds each day to breathe deeply. Heck take 5 seconds each day to say: I can develop new habits. 🙂 The point isn’t so much the habit as it is developing the ability to form habits. Once you can form some really basic but good habits, other habits that you might struggle with will get easier.
You either are keeping your New Year’s Resolutions (yay!) or you have shelved them. If the latter, cheer up. You don’t need to wait a year to resolve to be better. And you don’t need to necessarily make a big commitment either. Maybe just a week of doing something for the better is enough to make an improvement in yourself. A week may be just the thing to kick start you and send you off in a better direction.
Sound good? Great. And if you are stuck for ideas, check out this: C’mon, It’s Just 7 Days recipes and how-tos from Food52.
It’s not just about food. If you are looking for a week of challenges to try out, read the articles there.
The articles are fun even if you aren’t looking to change. A lot can happen in a week.