“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”–John Dryden
When I was a teenager, I heard that if you do something for seven days in a row, it becomes a habit. As it turns out, that was a bit of false information. According to research from the UK Behaviour Research Centre: While the well-established rule on habits is 21-28 days it actually took 66 days to form a habit.
The point is that if you want to change your behavior, you have to work at it – each day. I work hard to maintain my good habits and to undo my bad habits. Sometimes I fail miserably but you need to keep at it.
But, there are those habits that can change your life. Simple habits. And, I’m not talking about eating well, exercising, and sleeping. They’re givens. I’m talking about behavior changes that make an impact on the fulfillment of life and your success.
There is a saying that goes something like this, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Jim Rohn also famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Both are interesting notions. Take a good look at your friends or your network. Who do you spend the most time with and how do they make you feel? Are they helping you achieve goals?
Achieving success is much easier when you are surrounded by the right people. There’s a pretty decent amount of research that shows having friends is important to your mental well-being but you also need the right type of friendships.
Your environment molds who you are and can also shape who you become and we have control over that. We also have control over the choices that we make. We canchoose to place ourselves in environments that are positive. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who are on a similar journey. If your friends aren’t on the same path as you are on, can you continue your essential growth?
Habit # 2: Stop Hearing and Start Listening
Stephen Covey said:“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Dialogue is viewed like a tennis match. It’s the back and forth. Your “opponent” hits the ball to you and your job is to hit it back. You want to score the point; you want to win. But, to listen effectively, listen to receive the meaning without worrying about “scoring a point.” Once you understand, then you can respond. Being quiet gives you the opportunity to hear the words, the tone, and the meaning behind the words.
Effective listening is a skill that strengthens relationships and leads to more satisfying experiences as well as being closely connected with increased well-being.
Habit # 3: Get Outside
Want to be invigorated?
Twenty minutes of fresh air stimulates a sense of energy, according to several studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. “Nature is fuel for the soul,” says Richard Ryan, Ph.D, the lead author of the studies. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”
And, don’t forget that vitamin D, found in sunshine, is great for you.
Habit # 4: Change Your Thoughts
Did you ever get out of bed in the morning and tell yourself that you were going to kick ass that day?
And, I bet you did.
That’s positive thinking. You thought it and you did it.
Growing bodies of research show that positive thinking is about much more than being a Pollyanna or having a sunshine attitude. Positive thoughts actually create concrete value in your life – and make you healthier!
Barbara Fredrickson, positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, published a landmark paper that provided fascinating insights about positive thinking and its impact on your work, your health, and your life. And, it’s all good stuff. It’s hard to see where you can go wrong by tweaking your mindset if you tend to be negative. There’s no downside.
Fredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain and found that when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you see more possibilities in your life.
And, don’t forget about these great benefits…
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is also linked to a wide range of health benefits including:
- Longer life span
- Less stress
- Lower rates of depression
- Increased resistance to the common cold
- Better stress management and coping skills
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
- Increased physical well-being
- Better psychological health
Freebie: Another great habit – Ask yourself this question every morning: “How will I grow today?”
The past has happened, the future is yet to come. If you ever want to live the way you want in the future, action has to happen today. What will you do today to turn your dreams into realities?
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