There are books, articles, programs, blogs, commercials, and just about everything imaginable that claim to help us find this “something.”
What if the very thing we’re so busy searching for is not even out there?
I want to share a little story with you. Many years ago, I was given the secret to happiness. It was handed right to me at no cost whatsoever. And guess what I did with it? I refused it. Yes, I really did. I wasn’t ready to receive the one thing that would change my life forever.
I was convinced that the fulfillment I was searching for still resided in the relationship, career, or stuff that I always dreamed about. I mean, isn’t that what we’re always told, day in and day out, in so many ways?
It wasn’t until years later, after many attempts at finding my happiness, that I was able to accept the truth that everything I want and need is already within me. I just didn’t know it was there. I couldn’t get still long enough to hear the whispers of my own soul.
The One Habit that Will Change Your Life
How do we find this voice of wisdom that reveals our inner happiness?
This is the one habit that will change your life.
When I recommend this to people, I’m often met with the same response I used to have: “I don’t have time to meditate. I can’t really do it either. My thoughts never seem to stop.” The good news is that your thoughts don’t have to stop and all you need is 10 minutes a day! Really, it’s as simple as that.
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.” –Lao Tzu
A Simple Way to Meditate
Get still in a quiet place, sit comfortably in a cross-legged position or on the edge of a chair with your back straight, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. In…out…in…out.
Observe your thoughts, allowing them to float by like clouds in the sky. Imagine each thought passing by without judgment. Just notice the sounds around you.
Be aware. Don’t try to force your thoughts to stop.
Simply observe. That’s all. After 10 minutes or however long you decide, open your eyes, give gratitude for this time, and go about your day.
Why is meditation such an important practice?
When we sit in stillness, we have the opportunity to truly listen to our inner voice. All that we need is already there. We just need to be quiet long enough to hear it. Meditation reveals the wisdom from within that cannot be found anywhere else. It is from this place of stillness that everything else in life stems from. The inner creates the outer.
So, stop, breathe, and listen to what your heart wants you to know. It will change your life.
Creating Healthy Eating Habits
I’ve got great news! You don’t need to wipe the slate clean and start over if you want to be eating healthier. You don’t need to make major adjustments in your life, get all your ducks in a row, or do everything better and different than before.
You only need to begin.
Here’s why. I imagine you are a lot like me. You live a busy and full life. Often times, we want to make changes in patterns or habits in one area of our life by making a sweeping change.
What happens is often short-lived. This is because there are other important parts of your life that influence the area you are trying to change. For instance, let’s look at changing the way you eat. It’s not about knowing what to eat – I bet you already know you should eat more vegetables.
Instead, it’s about the habits you have around eating that need to adjust in order to make a big change. Things like:
- Your schedule
- How tired you are
- Your go-to meals
- Your favorite food at your favorite restaurant
You may want or need to work longer hours, drive the car pool or any number of priorities may be as equally important (in the moment) as eating healthy.
Instead of starting over or trying to make a big change, try upgrading what you already do and eat. Then pick a few meals a week to begin eating in a newer way or trying new foods.
Doing this has two major benefits:
1) You begin eating healthier immediately because you don’t need to adjust your schedule or change anything drastically – i.e. no procrastination of waiting for the perfect conditions and time to change.
2) Your baseline begins to shift. Across the board, you are eating healthier and will begin to feel the benefits and make healthier and healthier choices, as time goes on. And, the meals that you can spend more time on will continue to raise that baseline.
As you are enjoying and living your life, you are tweaking and upgrading your food, health and well being. Don’t be surprised if what you eat isn’t the only change you see.
Excellent Habits Support Health, If Only We Could Keep Them
How many of you have struggled to make modifications to affect your health? If all of you didn’t raise your hand, you are fibbing. The change could be physical, emotional, relational, social, cognitive, or something else; however, even small changes mean tackling habits.
Ah, habits, those silly little things we often ignore. Unfortunately, they can adversely affect your health.
The good news is you can change your habits; the bad news is it takes some effort. However, the new healthier habits can work for you. To quote Aristotle, “Excellence, then, is not an act, it is a habit.”
Let’s look at how you create excellent habits to support your health.
First,keep it simple. When you muck things up by getting complicated, you stop doing the healthy things- you stop the new habits. Simple means you want to focus on only one habit at a time. Simple also means take baby steps not giant leaps; change should be small enough you can succeed at it. Don’t jump in with an hour of exercise a day, do 10 minutes and slowly build it up. Simple equals success.
Second, write it down. Identify specifically the habit to change and what you are going to do to replace it. Create a simple plan to prepare yourself (more in point 3.) Look at why you want to do it, what might get in your way, and what triggers you into the old habit. Also, identify supports you can lean on and how you’ll be accountable.
Third, make your plan solid. Look at past attempts and reflect on what kept you from succeeding and what triggers you. Come up with ways to overcome these obstacles and triggers. How you are going to replace the old ways? It’s important to identify a positive reaction to each trigger or obstacle so you can commit to that action.
Fourth, plan for urges and saboteurs. Urges will happen; ride them out, they are short. Have a plan to deal with the urges- deep breathing, take a walk, call a support, or write in your journal. Make change one urge at a time. As for those who may try (intentionally or not) to trip you up, be ready and be direct. Let them know what you need, and if they can’t support you, then you don’t want to be around them. Turn to those who can help.
Fifth, give yourself time. Unless you are changing some immediately life threatening habit, wait before you start the modifications. Identify a start date and live with the idea and your written plan until then. This gives you time to treat the change as serious as well as to tweak your plan. When “The Big Day” comes, be dedicated and motivated.
Sixth, once you start,keep positive and focused. Remember you are doing one habit for at least a month before adding others. Watch for negative thinking and change it. Create a mantra – “Just today”, “I’m doing it”, “I can do this.” Reward yourself regularly for making steps; positive feedback encourages continuation.
Seventh, recommit and be accountable. Reread your plan daily. Celebrate success and avoid slips. There are no exceptions or you won’t form your new habit. Talk to your supports about what you are doing so you keep doing it. Stay away from situations that deeply trigger you until you get strong in your new healthy habits (but still prepare for urges when you return.) Aristotle said it best when he said “We are what we repeatedly do.” To be healthy, you need to repeatedly do the things that support and create health.