Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How You Can Begin to Form Healthier Habits

Habits are the things we do automatically. Have you ever really examined your habits? Some habits may be quite good and healthy while some habits might be actually holding you back, sabatoging you from obtaining your dreams.

Habits become automatic; whether they're good or bad. And as I've said before... it's the day to day choices you make that determine what your tomorrows will become.

Forming good habits is a way to begin to move forward towards the life you desire.

Think about where your habits come from:
  • The way you were raised
  • Your role models, whether good or bad
  • Subliminal messages from TV, movies
  • Our culture
  • Deliberate choices we make

How many times have you found yourself saying "that's just how I am" or "I can't change" or "I'm just not a disciplined person"?

This morning as I was exercising on the treadmill (a habit I've established by choice), I was watching the Today Show. Dr. Phil was being interviewed and he said "Biology is not destiny. It just means they're predisposed." I had to jump off the treadmill and write that one down. Now, Dr. Phil wasn't necessarily talking about establishing habits but I thought it could be applicable. After all, we may have a tendency to accumulate those extra pounds around the waist or thighs, depending on our genetic predisposition, but it doesn't have to be our destiny to have heavy thighs or bellies.

I remember reading a book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz and he said that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 100 days for it to be automatic. So, if that's true, I need to commit to a particular habit I wish to establish for at least 3 weeks. On the days when I find myself making excuses it's wise to remember this.

William James wrote the following:

Who Am I?

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am at your command. Half of the tasks that you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done. After a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people, and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. And those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, but I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a person. You may run me for profit or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will lay the work at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am called habit. Habit is my name."

So, what can you learn from this?

  • Take a moment to really think about the things you do automatically; things that you probably don't even think about before doing. Do you constantly taste food as you're cooking it? Do you always drink a jumbo size soft drink? Do you eat in bed watching TV?

  • Write down a few habits you would like to add to your life. If you want to lose weight, exercise is a must. If you want to read more, spending less time watching TV might be in order. Become more aware of your daily habits so you can decide if they are helping or hurting your long term goals.

5 comments:

  1. Hm........I suppose a couple of those "bad habits" you mentioned could apply to me.

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  2. Well to me too...after all I have a habit of eating in bed watching TV.

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  3. Thanks for your thoughts! Discipline and making/keeping priorities has always been a challenge in my life! One of my favorite things I say to my violin students is: "You don't need to practice on the days you don't eat!" Maybe I should apply this same idea to healthy habits: exercising, spending time in the Word, etc....

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  4. Thanks for adding your valuable comments Carol. I know I used to tell our heart patients that you wouldn't leave the house without brushing your teeth. So don't leave without getting your exercise.

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  5. I'm not a fan of Dr. Phil but I do like that quote. I'll have to jot that down myself.

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Am I a kid or what?

Am I a kid or what?

I love this place...Carmel, CA

I love this place...Carmel, CA