You Are Your Habits

You are what you eat. That phrase is so 1826 (from Anthelme Brillat-Savarin to be precise). A more modern take on this is You are the habits you keep.

I hate to break it to you. Do you lie? Then you are a liar. Do you cook dinner most nights? You are a cook. Do you read books? Then you are a reader. What you do everyday determines your DNA, how others see you, and how healthy you are or not.

For example, cut out one soda a day from your diet and you could lose 15 pounds in a year. Deepak Chopra opines the amazing calming effect on mental clarity and facing the day by meditating for 1 minute each day. How many strong relationships could you keep in your life by calling one friend or family member a day? Small habits add up to big results in life.

I am constantly thinking and rethinking the habits in my life to make me a happy, healthy, and balanced person with little effort. A habit that requires work is not actually a habit. It is a chore. Habits are lifestyle. They are DNA. They are just what you do. To evaluate, ask yourself...

 

Physical Health

Activity: Am I consistently active? This may include regular exercise at the gym, opting for the stairs over the escalator, or taking walks after dinner.

Sustenance: What do I put in my mouth? This means drinking enough water (half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh), eating enough fiber (25-38 grams), and including variety in diet.

Sleep: Am I tired? This involves making choices to ensure going to bed at a time to get enough sleep and creating an environment to support staying asleep (no phones, correct sleepwear, comfortable mattress).

Posture: Do I carry my body in a healthy way? This means sitting, standing, and walking in a way that reflects my confidence and supports good circulation as well as stepping out of cars and bed to correctly support my back.

But too much focus can also be a bad thing; guard against hypochondria and vanity.

 

Mental Health

Pauses: Do I regularly take breaks? This means planning vacations, breaking during the work day for a chat or cup of tea, or purposely disrupting up your normal work or personal routine with something new.

Education: Am I investing in my growth? This includes making time for books, podcasts, and blogs. This also includes making time and effort for new experiences (new restaurants, live shows, weekend plans).

Goals: Am I stretching myself? This is seeking new challenges and taking risks. Periodic pushing out of your comfort zone forces growth.

But too much focus can also be a bad thing; guard against self-pity and narcissism.

 

Emotional Health

Relationships: Am I making time for friends and family? This involves making calls, paying visits, and planning meetings. One-way communications such as emails, texts, and mail do not count. People are by nature social. Special emphasis should be placed on long-term relationships. People who know you a long time keep you in check. They can call you out when you are being insincere. They knew you and still loved you during your crimped hair phase.

Creativity: Do I have creative outlets? This involves expressing your passions or tapping into your inner emotions regularly (music, art, decorating, movies, gardening). Has something moved you lately by making you cry or think? Evaluating this can uncover if you are purposefully numbing yourself (alcohol, drugs, isolation, or apathy).

But too much focus can also be a bad thing; guard against emotional self-indulgence that creates the mercurial abuse of others.

 

Philanthropy

Time: Am I sharing what I can offer to others? This includes volunteer work or mentorship. Your children do not count as they are an extension of yourself. In some periods of life you may not have much time and so you can simply be an example or inspiration to others.

Money: Have I donated regularly? Many studies show that donating to charity makes you happy but all these studies completely miss the true point. When you part with your money, you break the chains of materialism and THAT facilitates happiness. If the love of money is the root of all evil, then decreasing your reliance on it (by giving it away) removes you from that path.

Magnanimity: Am I happy for others? This is simple and often unrecognized. Are you rooting for others to win and truly delighting in their achievements? Again, your children do not count as they are an extension of yourself. There is enough success to be had in this world. When someone else wins there isn't less for you. On the contrary, a rising tide raises all boats.

But too much focus can also be a bad thing; guard against taking yourself too seriously.

 

In Brief

I have personally created habits to...

  1. Have an active project (painting a canvas, redecorating a room, a new website)
  2. Read a book and have the next book on the nightstand
  3. Have a plan to look forward to (a vacation, a dinner out with friends, a date night)
  4. Drink 3 liters of water a day and eat balanced dinners each week (rotating fish, beef, chicken, pork, meatless meals)
  5. Seek out grounding activities in my weekly routine (church, yoga, a chat with grandparents)

I have come to realize these are habits ingrained in my soul. When I miss one of these habits I feel wretched, not due to guilt but instead because I don't feel like myself.