Everyone aspires to lead a long, healthy and successful life. But in order to do that adopting healthy lifestyle practices and good habits is an indispensable necessity since it is well known that habits are a person’s second nature. To know more about how to develop these healthy habits, first we should know about their meaning and importance.
What is meant by good habits? Why is it so important for us to develop good habits?
The practice of leading a healthy lifestyle and embracing lifestyle practices which are beneficial to our overall health and well-being and avoiding all such lifestyle practices which can negatively impact our health can be attributed to the meaning of good habits. Our habits are our routine daily actions and they define our personality and make us who we are. So, in order to bring about a positive transformation in our personalities, it is very essential that we build good habits and discard the bad ones. The importance of building good habits can be summed up as follows:
- Good habits enable us to be successful in our lives and in our pursuit of happiness and help us to reach our desired positions in life.
- They are the key for a healthy body and an intelligent mind.
- They provide us with the platform on the basis of which we can set and reach our goals in life.
- They help us to make the best possible and most judicious use of our time and resources.
- They motivate us not to give up in life and strive hard to achieve success and make the correct life choices.
- They play a vital role in building our character and personality which goes a long way in determining how well we fare in our lives.
Want to build good habits? Here are the ways:
While building good habits is a trait that is desired by all of us, most often we fail because we do not possess the requisite knowledge regarding how to go about the process of including healthy habits in our lives. For this reason, some simple ways of doing the same are discussed below which can help us in overcoming our shortcomings when it comes to this matter and also help us to maintain the good habits. They are:
- First begin by setting very small and short-term goals for yourself: The overwhelming majority of us want results in such a short time that it is just not humanly possible to achieve or even reasonable for that matter. For example, we want to change our diet and adopt a healthy one in a single day or practice yoga and other exercises for an hour when we cannot do it for more than 15 minutes at present. Initiating these changes and following them without giving up needs an enormous amount of mental strength. And studies have revealed that our mental strength will get depleted very quickly if it is overused and then we will most certainly give up and go back to our old way of life. For solving this difficulty, we should start by setting short-term goals which will not require much determination to achieve such as adding a healthy snack to a particular meal instead of totally changing our diet patterns in one day, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that first of all we must be able to put the habit into practice and for doing that successfully without quitting, we must not overexert ourselves before we get used to that particular habit and it becomes an integral part of our daily routines.
- Try to get addicted to the good habit: It is often seen that when we put in a lot of hard work into some venture, we cannot quit it easily. This propensity can be used in our favour by creating a sequence that we would want to continue with at all costs. For example, every time we successfully practice the good habit we can make a note of it and this will remind us of how hard we have tried to change our habits. We will notice that with more successes as the length of the sequence increases, we are redoubling our efforts to continue with the same. Thus, this will help us in not giving up and keep trying until we have successfully changed our habits.
- Have definite and clear-cut motives: Hazy motives such as thinking of exercising for a certain number of times in a week will not work for us. Studies have found that the possibilities of effectively putting our plans into practice are much greater if we have chalked out beforehand the exact time and place of our habit-changing behaviours. There are certain methods that can help us in this regard such as developing our habits on the basis of an If/Then logic like, if we have our meal on time, then we will work out or exercise etc. Then we can co-relate the habit that we desire to include in our life with such habits that are already followed by us as a part of our daily routines. For instance, we can decide to go for a morning walk after brushing our teeth etc. Last, but not least, we must keep track of our habits and give them the due importance and space in our daily routines like we would do with other crucial life events in order to develop the good habits. Most of us do not follow this but what we make a note of and plan in advance for our daily routines will most certainly be carried out efficiently.
- Reward yourselves even for little successes: Most of us are too hard on ourselves and only see our failures and forget to compensate ourselves for our achievements. This behavioural tendency in self-management is common in the vast majority of people but it is totally wrong since studies have found that rewarding ourselves when we achieve success plays a vital role in motivating us and helping us to continue. This is so because every time we reward ourselves even for minor achievements, a certain area in our brains are activated which discharge some essential chemicals that instill a feeling of self-confidence in us. As a result of this feeling, we are able to work harder and make much better progress in the future. So, remembering our every little step towards our goal, however small it may be, and rewarding ourselves for it is a must.
- Create a proper atmosphere: Our environmental surroundings are a major determinant in influencing our behaviour. So, creating the proper environmental settings which assist us in changing our habits and maintaining the good habits is extremely vital. All the good habits that we intend to follow require some energy and efforts to be executed properly and if it requires a lot of energy or efforts on our part to be implemented, then it can decrease our chances of success in developing the habits. So, by adjusting and altering the energy levels required for our habit-changing behaviours to suit our requirements we can move towards the correct path. For instance, the energy required for our intented habit or behaviour has to be lessened and that of the unwanted habit or behaviour has to be enhanced by acting in such a way that we are more likely to come across stimuli that will induce us to form the good habit and keep us away from the bad one. This will greatly increase our chances of success.
- Always keep the company of the right kind of people: It is quite obvious that our behaviour and actions are influenced to a huge extent by the kind of persons that we mix with on a daily basis. One research has even found that our risk of developing a certain medical condition is largely increased if we have a friend or associate who suffers from that condition even if they stay very far away from us. Other findings have stated that our goals and attitudes are shaped by the persons in whose company we spend most of our time. Thus, to drastically boost our possibilities of being successful in executing our plans, we must prefer optimistic people as they can motivate us when we are down and make it a point to always steer clear of people with negative or pessimistic mindsets as they can be the reason behind our failures. If most of our friends do not have good habits, then we should seriously consider reaching out to new people.
- Adopt measures that hold you responsible for your actions and egg you on even during difficult times: An example of this can include making pledges to our friends and family members to commit to a certain healthy routine and penalize ourselves if we fail to adhere to that routine by giving them some money etc for each instance of our non-compliance. This will motivate us to not give up and carry on even when the going gets very tough and ultimately reach our desired objectives.
As a result of poor habits and unhealthy lifestyles, it has been revealed that an alarming 60% of the world’s heart patients are Indians whereas Indians make up 15% of the global population. Unhealthy diets, stressful and hectic lives along with with sedentary lifestyles are the major reasons behind the results of this survey. Stress is also the principal reason behind rapid mood swings and sleep disorders like insomnia all of which are contributing to the rising cases of cardiovascular ailments and obesity in India. According to another survey 30-40% of Indian working professionals suffer from sleep disorders due to high stress levels and other unhealthy habits such as sleeping right beside gadgets like smartphones. The survey has also found that some 90% of urban Indians sleep right beside their smartphones or cellphones and serious sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea are afflicting 9-20% of Indian women and also 24-31% of the men. Other common bad habits which are prevalent in Indian society include smoking, drinking, fast food addiction etc and all these can cause serious ailments like lung cancer, diabetes and others. So, the need for Indians to build good habits such as exercising or practicing yoga and meditation for some time everyday in order to calm the mind and relax the body and to create a proper frame of mind to successfully adhere to them is now more urgent than ever before. The best way for us to create such a mindset is by looking at the whole thing from an experimental perspective and by treating each failure as merely a stepping stone for the next success and by learning and developing useful insights from these failures. We should not set faraway and unrealistic goals for ourselves but should try to introduce small positive behavioural changes with each new day. Most importantly, we must never give up. If we continue with our efforts, the results are bound to show sooner or later. So , for those of you who want to change your lives by building good habits, just remember that old saying, ” Where there is a will, there is a way.”