I love habits. Here’s why.
We get to pick the habits we want in our lives
We assume we have no control over our habits because we do them automatically without thinking. We make this assumption because many of our habits have been around so long we can’t remember how they started.
The good news is we actually get to pick our habits. If we want, we can get rid of the bad ones and even replace them with better ones.
Sure, it’ll take effort but if we want new and better habits, we can choose to do something about it.
Habits make life easier
Habits make life easier because we don’t need to consciously think about so many of the routine tasks we do during the day.
Imagine if you had to read the owners manual for your car every time you decided to drive somewhere. But with habits, we unlock the car, put the key in the ignition, fasten a seat belt, or even adjust the mirrors all without thinking about it.
We brush our teeth, take a shower, drink water, get dressed, and a million other routine tasks without any mental effort. We accomplish a great deal without much thought at all, which makes our days much easier.
Habits help us accomplish important goals
Habits are valuable because we can set them up to support us in accomplishing important goals.
Suppose we want to work in a new profession or be self-employed. To support that goal, we could make it a habit at the end of each day to write down what progress we made that day and what we plan to do tomorrow.
That particular habit by itself won’t guarantee success but will be an excellent way to monitor our progress and keep us on track. Big goals are difficult enough and habits allow us to save our energy for when it’s most needed.
The best habits
I used to view habits as only related to physical activities such as working out, eating certain foods, or going to bed at a particular time.
But I read something the other day that made me rethink what kind of habits we have. Not only do we have physical habits, we have mental and emotional habits as well.
For example, you can develop the habit of finding a positive aspect whenever we encounter something negative in life. The positive aspect doesn’t have to be big enough offset the negative aspect or it doesn’t even have to make much sense.
Suppose you oversleep and are stressed about being late for work. A positive aspect? Maybe you’ll feel more rested later in the day because of the extra sleep. Okay, but what if you get fired for being late? You’ll have a chance to find a better job, or work for yourself, or collect unemployment.
No matter the situation you can find something positive even if it seems small and trivial. The point is to make it a habit to automatically find something good no matter what happens. Try it for a month and you’ll be happier as a result.
Not just for routine tasks
Of course, we still need habits for lots of routine tasks related to health, fitness, diet, and housekeeping. But the best habits are the mental and emotional ones. Strong habits in those areas will improve our happiness and relationships.
Want to be happier? Focus on the positive habit explained above. Want better relationships? Develop habits to support your connections with others.
For example, build habits to be a good listener, remember birthdays, smile more, send thank-you notes, or just check in with an email or text. I’m sure you can think of other ways but whatever they are make them a habit.
We miss out on the value of habits if we only use them to remember to floss or drink more water. The best habits will help you strengthen your relationships and outlook on life.
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