How to Change Your Habits to Change Your Life
One of my favorite quotes and it was a quote that was on my iPad for years was by Aristotle and he said…
“We are what we repeatedly do excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
It’s one of my favorite quotes because it was something that I applied in my own life and I was able to make a big change on how I feel everyday in the things that I do. In explaining this, I want to come at it from a neuroscience point of view and the reason being is because once you understand this concept it becomes very evident to why it’s so important to change your habits. Neuroscience tells us that on average every day we think about 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day and that out of those thoughts we about ninety percent of them are recycled from the day before. Which means that on a daily basis we are creating the same type of experiences, we are thinking the same way and we are feeling the same way.
If we are consistently doing the same thing we’re going to get the same result. If we want to have new experiences we need to change the way we think and therefore change the way we feel.
The emotions that we feel come from the neuro-transmitters and hormones in our body (such as vassopressin,serotonin and dopamine) and all these have an effect on how we feel. When we think specific thoughts, depending on how we view those thought through our belief systems produces an emotion. The emotions come as a result of how we are thinking in correlation to our internal references and how we compare ourselves to the thoughts.
In my prior blog post I explain how getting outside of your comfort zone is a powerful step towards learning more about yourself and expanding your realm of influence. This is why my first tip is to get into new enviornments and try new things. This is relevant because if we think on average 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day and 90 percent are recycled from the day before, then most of the information our senses are absorbing are consistently the same. Making it much easier to fall into a habitual autopilot mode of doing the same thing and getting the same result.
If we consistently see the same people everyday, have generally the same conversations, do the same things, etc we limit the experiences and connections we could of made if we went to new places, tried new activities, etc. Getting into new environments causes us to pay more attention and turn on learning centers in our brain that lay dormant when we are doing repetitive activities.
For example, if a goal you have is to get more physically in shape and lose weight, then putting yourself in an environment that promotes that would trigger change and learning. You may go to a yoga studio and meet like-minded people who eat how you would like to eat and live an inspiring lifestyle. You could also go the gym and see someone you were good friends with in college and decide to be workout buddies going forward. These are two examples of many opportunities that could happen by changing your environment and making connections with new people.
The second tip to changing habits is to start off small. When most people approach New Years Resolutions they go at with bold ambitions to take on huge levels of change. This is also why most people quit after the second week of the new year. Making big, bold goals tends to be a great idea but normally we lose motivation if the end result looks too far off in the distant. Instead of saying “I’m going to lose 50 lbs” or “run 10 miles a day,” make the goal of doing more physical activities or just running for 5 minutes a day. Even the simple goal to just go to the gym for 20 mins three times a week is a more powerful goal then trying to declare going to the gym for an hour every day of the week. If the goal is more easily seen there is more likely to be follow through and less likely chance of quitting.
The third tip for changing your habits is about accountability. This is a very powerful tool because we must have a process for checking in with ourselves and holding ourselves accountable for our actions and goals. Go over your goals periodically and determine which ones are highest priority. Doing this consistently will ensure that the end result is fresh in your mind. Having an accountability partner is very powerful too because even though sometimes it can be easy to let ourselves down and bend our focus, having someone else to check in with will ensure you don’t let them down too. Even better for accountability is posting your goals and ambitions in a blog or online because normally we will do everything in our power remain consistent with a community of people watching.
The good news is it gets easier as you go. Neuroscience show us that neurons that fire together, wire together. Meaning that the more consistently the thought and actions consciously occur, the easier it will be the next time to thing and do the same thing.
The most powerful habit I have adopted has been meditation. It’s the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of my day and I’ve been doing it for about 3 years now. I read about all the benefits years ago and the correlation between hormones and meditation was enough for me to give it a go. From that point forward my while life changed as my emotions and feelings moved to a higher place and stress was minimized to almost nothing. I literally felt like my senses where enhanced because my awareness was so much more present and I viewed the world through new eyes. I’ll go through this more in a later post and explain more about the tool of meditation and how it can change your life.
What new habits will you form? What process works for you?
I hope to gained some value from todays post and have a great day.