For most stable, 9 in the morning until 5 in the evening, two-hour-daily-commute Americans, the word “habit” is probably used most in terms of something you’d like to quit.
Smoking… drinking… eating junk food…
Or if you’re a forward-thinking progressive person intent on self-actualization, you may find yourself preoccupied with how to effectively form a healthy habit.
Oil pulling… meal-prepping… yoga…
Does it take 3 weeks? 6 weeks? And how many new habits can you take on at once before you get tired and quit all of them? What happens if your habits drain you and detract from the energy you had before healthy habits become your downfall?
The solution, of course, is to curate your habit development to only include habits that will replenish and rejuvenate your spirits in and of themselves.
Everything that you do should serve you. Think about the rise of Marie Kondo’s popularity…
What she brought to people was the idea that everything in your physical space should bring you joy. And that if it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s not assisting you in building the life that you want. Similarly, if the way that you spend your time is draining you, then your energy expenditures aren’t fulfilling their function.
You should feel juiced by your interests. They should make you feel alert, rested, and alive.
Let’s look at ways you can incorporate life-activating habits into your routine — because happy hour, shopping, and watching sports are only takers. They don’t give.
Make One Meal a Day an Event
That doesn’t mean to eat a lavish meal at a fancy restaurant every day. What it means is that part of Western culture involves eating thoughtlessly.
We scarf food down in the car on the way to work. We eat at our desks instead of communing with our friends and colleagues.
We pop a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner, eat in front of the TV, or call out for takeaway because the night’s gotten away from us and we don’t feel like preparing, cooking, and cleaning up after a meal.
And eating, for humans, is much more than physically necessary. Consciously eating is important for digestion (we tend to chew more and eat more slowly when we’re aware) and for human connection.
So once a day, pay attention to your meal.
If you cooked it, marvel at the flavors you used. If someone cooked it for you, taste the love and care that went into the meal. If you went out to dinner with a friend, really think about the dish that would soothe you and practice feeling grateful for the work that resulted in your worry-free dinner.
Instead of talking, scooping, chewing, and repeating, sit and listen to your dinner companion. Meal prep for the week to save yourself money and add engagement to your journey with food.
Make one meal a day special. Even if that just means eating by yourself with no sound and no distraction, savoring your nourishment.
Learn Something New
Listen — everyone’s tired. You don’t have to learn a different version of calculus every day.
But taking a few moments every day to learn something new has untold effects on your psyche.
You’re stretching your brain-muscle (read: neuroplasticity.) You’re contributing information to your ever-evolving knowledge bank. You’re increasing your confidence and perspective with every new area broached.
Plus, it literally changes your brain chemistry. Practicing new skills and adding information to your brain-bank makes the myelin, or white matter in your brain, denser. Which makes future learning easier. And the exhilarating feeling that comes with trying something new?
Learn 10 new vocabulary words per day. Learn 10 new vocabulary words in a different language per day. Listen to a history podcast. Learn how to draw a tulip. Learn how to ferment your own pickles. Learn about an ancient, dead culture.
Engage Your Legs
We’ve become very sit-focused. We always have a lap. And it’s making us so tired.
The reason is actually purely biological — your body recognizes being still as the first step in going to sleep.
The longer you remain seated, the more your body starts to prepare itself for long-term rest. And even worse, if you’re seated and staring at a screen — like your computer at work, your phone, or your TV — you’re already blinking less, which means your eyes are drier and readier for sleep.
So get up!
Practice rebounding. Use your standing desk. Walk around the block during your lunch break. Take your dog for a walk instead of letting him out back. Stand during happy hour instead of sitting on a stool. Oil pull with coconut oil while you do core body stretches in the morning. Delete your ridesharing app from your phone and see how far you can get on foot — you’ll probably be surprised.
Habits are personal.
They reflect your taste and interests. If you’re not athletic, and you love to read, taking a high-intensity cardiovascular fitness class might be a hard habit to engrain in your routine. But taking a book to the park and reading while you walk across it and back should get you up and moving.
Do what feels right for you.
But every day, try to eat consciously, learn something new, and get up and walk. In no time, you’ll forget what it feels like for your life-force to be drained from you.
For more life-changing information on our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, check out my streaming service — whole.tv — with this two-week free trial.