Making your life better isn’t just about getting rid of bad habits. It’s also about filling your life with good. By trying new things, you’ll open your life to experiences you never dreamed of…
Self-improvement literature talks a lot about how to get rid of the habits that harm our productivity and our work. But equally important are the good habits that enhance every part of your life. This can include habits that support your physical health, mental health, and even your motivation and overall success.
Our habits can also affect every part of our lives. A good habit for your health will have a positive effect on your work, on your relationships, and on the general quality of your life. That’s why it’s important to think about every aspect of your life when upgrading your habits.
Good habits can also be used to help suppress bad habits. Studies suggest that old habits never leave the brain. Instead, the old patterns remain intact under the surface waiting to be triggered. But if you replace a bad habit with a good one, it can act to further suppress the bad habit and stop it from reactivating once more.
What good habits would make you a healthier, more productive person? And which life habits do you want to add to your life to make the overall experience better?
Physical Health Habits
1. Regular exercise
This is an obvious one, but it always bears repeating. Get into the habit of exercising every day. Exercise makes you healthier in every way. It tones your body, lowers your risk of most diseases and improves your mood. Regular exercise also increases the blood flow to the brain, which improves memory, cognition and even creativity.
2. Go outside
Sitting inside on the computer all day is bad for you. Go outside and get some sunlight. A moderate amount of sunlight every day has been shown to raise serotonin levels, which will lift your mood and make you feel more focused. Lower levels of serotonin are often associated with mental disorders such as depression, so it’s essential that you do what you can to keep your serotonin levels normal.
3. Eat fresh and raw
Burgers and prepackaged meals may be quick and easy, but they’re not good for you. Eat fruits and vegetables as often as possible, and eat them raw when you can. The only way to live a healthy life is to give your body the healthiest fuel possibly.
4. Drink water constantly
There’s no excuse for being dehydrated if you live in a western country. Everyone knows that you need to have at least 8 cups of water a day. You can get a good start on that by drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Doing this will help you rehydrate after the night without water and will make you feel amazing. Cut out soft drinks completely, they’re really bad for you, and drink water instead.
5. See medical professionals
This is a big part of taking care of your health. See your doctor every year and your dentist every six months. Make an appointment with an optometrist to check your eyes as often as you need to. This is a very practical habit, but it will help you stay healthier and deal with any issues as soon as they come up.
6. Establish a regular sleep schedule
This doesn’t mean you should force yourself to get up at 5am if you naturally go to bed at 1am and sleep until 9am. There is no evidence that being a morning person has any positive effects on your creativity or productivity. What does matter is the habit. Make sure you get 8 hours every night and have regular sleep and wake times.
7. Educate yourself
Lifelong learning has important benefits for your brain, your work and your cognition. Setting this goal may mean going back to school to get that degree you’ve always wanted and it may not. What’s important is that you set up a lifelong learning habit. This means choosing subjects and reading about them, and picking up new skills. Your brain will thank you for it, and it’ll make you a much more interesting person.
8. Be curious
This can apply to every part of your life. Be curious about the people around you, ask them questions and really listen to the answers. Be curious at work as well, it will drive you to look for new solutions to old problems.
9. Read more
Most of the greatest thinkers and leaders of all time were dedicated readers. Reading will lower stress levels, educate you, expand your imagination and make you a more interesting person. There’s no reason not to read.
Mental Health Habits
10. Meditation or mindfulness
The world is busy and sometimes we need the help to calm down and slow down and enjoy it. Mindfulness and meditation practices can help with this. Studies have shown that mindfulness lowers stress and anxiety and improves various essential functions in the brain including memory.
11. Include fun things
Some people are all about work. This may make them successful, but it doesn’t make them happy. Scheduling fun can seem counter intuitive, but it’s also essential. If you don’t schedule it, it probably won’t happen.
This seems like a strange one if you’re constantly trying to do be and be more, but daydreaming can be amazingly good for your brain. It helps you to make new connections and activates sections of your brain that are usually dormant. It’s also a lot of fun and makes you feel great.
13. Practice self-control
We may not be able to control our emotions and our thoughts, but we can usually control our reactions. This takes discipline and self-control, which are both habits that you can add to your life. (link to discipline article)
Watch a comedy or talk to a friend who makes you laugh. Studies have shown that laughing lowers stress, releases feel good hormones in your body and may even boost your immune system. Chances are, you don’t laugh enough. Try to seek out opportunities to fix that.
15. Give back
Life is hard sometimes. Look around the world, around your city and town, and you can see the realities of this. Though it may annoy us, most of the problems we have at work and in our relationships are small compared to what else can happen. But work and the reality of our lives can isolate us from that wider view. Overcome that by staying engaged with the world. Volunteer some time, help out an elderly neighbor or be a mentor to someone who doesn’t have all the advantages you do. You’ll be surprised at how much better your own life seems in comparison.
16. Spend time with friends and family
Don’t allow yourself to become isolated, no matter how much time you ‘have to work’. Numerous studies show that social isolation is devastating for your physical and mental health and is strongly linked to early death.
This is obviously not a daily habit, but it should be a regular one. Get out of your neighborhood and its views and see the world. Travel is one of the best habits for opening up your mind and your creativity, and you should take advantage of it if you can.
Life Expansion Habits
18. Make plans
If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t get there. Set goals for your week, your month and your year. Life is always better when you’re working towards something and when you have something to look forward to.
19. Prioritize experiences, not things
Don’t listen to the advertisements that tell you your life will be better if you buy or have something. Instead, do things. Gather experiences. Studies show that the happiness created by experiences lasts far longer than the happiness caused by new possessions. And the stories you get from experiences prolong that happiness even further.
20. Push your comfort zone
Sometimes we get into ruts in our personal or professional lives. Make it a regular habit to move out of your comfort zone until it feels normal to do so on a regular basis. This will encourage you to keep growing, changing and learning.
The number one thing you can take away from this
Making your life better isn’t just about getting rid of the bad. It’s also about filling your life with good things. By trying new habits and new ways of doing things, you’ll open your life to benefits you never imagined and experiences you never dreamed of. Choose one or two new habits to add to your life, and watch the effects they have on your overall experience.