Old habits are hard to break, right? At least that's how the saying goes. I'm not a brain science expert, but I have done enough research on the topic that I think I have a good grasp on how the brain works. Well, at least when it comes to habits.
They say it takes 21 days to adopt a new habit. Why would that be? Because for some reason, that's the average amount of time it takes a person to re-wire their brain. And that's really what adopting new habits are all about.
Here's how it works. When you repeat thoughts and actions, it creates stronger connections in your brain. What does that mean? Well, it means that the more you do something, the more likely you're going to keep doing it. After a while, it almost becomes second nature. Your brain connections are kind of like a muscle. When you exercise you muscles over and over, they get bigger and stronger. The same is true for the connections in your brain - even the ones connected to habits.
So, that got me thinking about some of the habits that I should change. And at the same time, it got me thinking about the good habits that I already have that might benefit you as well. Here's a list of things habits that could help you have a better life:
1. Keeping plans on a calendar and sticking to them.
It amazes me how many people I know don't keep a calendar. For instance, when we make plans, I immediately write it in my calendar so I don't forget. But sometimes, the person I'm supposed to meet did not, and as a result, they forgot about our plans. I think it will help your relationships if you keep a calendar to keep your commitments.
2. Not sleeping with your phone near your head - or even in your bedroom.
Research shows that your cell phone emits a blue light that interferes with sleep. But beyond the physical reasons, there are mental/psychological reasons to leave the phone somewhere else. For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you might be tempted to check Facebook or emails. That will wake you up even more, so it's best not to have the temptation.
3. Turning down the lights when it gets dark.
When it starts getting dark outside, our bodies respond by decreasing cortisol and increasing melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that is needed to go to sleep. But light prevents our bodies from producing enough to put us to sleep. There have been plenty of studies to prove this. So turn your lights down in the house as soon as it starts to get dark.
4. Keeping a food diary.
I once watched a documentary called I Eat 33,000 Calories a Day. Yes, you read that correctly - it was not a typo! While these people are the extreme, many people are unconscious eaters. In other words, they have no idea how many calories they actually consume on any given day. That's why writing it down in a diary really helps!
This one is a new habit for me. While I try to eat healthy, I need to step up my game. But believe it or not, there are a lot of advantages to juicing. It can help you lose weight, get rid of your acne, detoxify, and increase your energy, just to name a few. So why not give it a try?
6. Stop "drinking" your calories.
Do you like to drink sugary sodas to stay awake? Or maybe you love your beer? Whatever your habits, most drinks contain a lot of calories - and some of them are nothing but empty calories with no nutritional benefits whatsoever. So, if you want to cut out some calories, look at all of the ones you consume in liquid form.
7. Taking a walk every day.
This is one habit I've adopted in the last year or so. I hate to exercise, so I was trying to think of a way that I wouldn't hate it so much. So, I tried taking walks around the neighborhood as often as I can. I walk anywhere from 1-2 miles, which only takes me 15-30 minutes. But I've seen results such as weight loss with very little effort.
As I was discussing in the introduction, the brain can be re-wired. One way to re-wire it is to meditate. I know a lot of people think of it as boring (myself included), but the health benefits definitely outweigh the boredom factor.
9. Creating vision boards.
Do you have goals? A lot of people don't. Or if they do, they don't write them down - or take any action toward achieving them. But creating vision boards are a great way to keep your goals in sight - literally. Put words and photos on a poster board and concentrate on it every day. That way, you will remind yourself to keep chasing after your dreams.
10. Doing a random act of kindness.
The world can always use more kindness. Maybe it's shoveling your neighbor's driveway, or taking cookies to your local hospital or nursing home. Even paying for someone's meal who is behind you in a drive-thru restaurant will make someone's day. Make this a habit, and then see how you make a difference in this world!
11. Routinely focusing on what you appreciate in life.
We live in a very negative world. People are always complaining and speaking negatively about their lives. We even see this negativity on the political stage these days. But instead of focusing on what's wrong with your life, consistently focus on what you are grateful for. There's always something.
12. Listen to your intuition and follow it.
Everyone knows what that "gut feeling" is. I know I do. There have been times in my life that I have ignored, and then things don't turn out well. So if you can learn to trust that feeling, even if it doesn't make any logical sense, then you will probably make better decisions in life.
If you want to improve your life, you just need to take some action. I hope these 12 little tips will help you be happier and have a better life!