habits (13)

The best place to start spreading kindness is within your communities. Reaching out is more comfortable with people, you know. Giving the folks you regularly encounter a “Good Morning” and a smile is a simple start that goes a long way. Smiling is contagious. When you begin setting a good example by saying good morning with a smile every time you meet someone, you are training them to smile and say good morning.  It is human nature, and they will have little choice but to pick up where you left off and continue the spreading of good deeds. Let me explain what I mean by “communities” and how you can become a kindness leader within your circles.7906899298?profile=RESIZE_400x

Types of Communities

We often think of our community as being where we live, and this is definitely the case. Your city or neighborhood is one community you belong to, but the term is much broader than just geography. The core of your community is its people. Any commonality that brings people together can be considered a community. This can be your work colleagues, your group of friends who get together regularly, your blood relatives, or some other group entirely. Perhaps your community revolves around a common interest, such as sports or hobbies. We will define community as where two or more are gathered together.

Be a Kindness Leader

You can be a kindness leader in your communities. A leaderis where others look for motivation and direction. By your leadership, you’re providing examples to the people around you how it’s done. They’ll see you as the person who spreads good, positive vibes. They may even seek to emulate your example. After all, kindness is contagious. Remember?

Ways to Get Started

Getting started as a kindness leader within your communities is quite simple. It doesn’t mean finding a stage and preaching kindness. All you have to do is show generosity to those you encounter throughout your groups, and people are bound to take notice. You can encourage others to get involved by sharing your stories of giving and how it makes you feel to give back. You can get on a stage by working on getting others involved through volunteer efforts formally. Set up a fundraiser for a friend within your tribe. Organize a volunteer effort among your pals for a cause of common interest to everyone. You’ll soon see folks want to engage in their acts of kindness.

Doing good within your communities brings people together. Performing acts of kindness within your groups and encouraging others to do the same will benefit you all in many ways. You’ll build bonds while helping others.

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Why do some people succeed where other, more talented people fail?

How is it that stars burn out and fail were others with lesser talents manage to excel?

People grasp at the newest trends, latest technology, and desperately hope that they can capture the magic of success. They find a role model to emulate, they study, and they strive, looking for success or the secret to unlocking it. There isn't a secret to success. Success doesn't always come down to creativity, strategy, intelligence, or talent. If it did, the valedictorian of your graduating class would be where Bill Gates is, instead of working a mediocre job complaining that everyone else has all the luck. 7666316859?profile=RESIZE_400x

The answer to this question will never change. When someone asks who will succeed? The answer will always be – the people who persevere. Let's look at the five characteristics of people who persevere.

  1. Keep It Visible

Yes, people who persevere keep visual reminders of their goals nearby. Whether it's on their desk, fridge, or the dashboard of their car, it plants the seed of success in their mind and allows them to focus their attention on all of the things that will help them achieve their goal.

 They recognize that worry and stress destroy focus, so they find a way to manage their stress levels. They do this by using their time effectively, an ability supported by keeping reminders visible.

  1. Technology

If you can't tame your use of technology, then it will quickly become your master. We might live in a highly connected world, but it's up to you to define the boundaries with regards to your time. Your phone might have notified you that a new email just came through, but that doesn't mean you have to change your focus to deal with it. People who persevere know that the only thing that should dominate their time are things that contribute to achieving their goals. 

  1. Preparation

If you plan two, three steps ahead, then you have a good idea of what is going to come next. This helps you prevent complacency. With every new phase, one must consider what skills, experiences, knowledge, and relationships should be developed to succeed. That's something people who persevere do regularly.

In that planning, you can create a template of sorts to improve your consistency with tasks that you know you will repeat. It'll save you time, too. 

  1. Questions

People who persevere ask a lot of questions, but not just any questions, the right questions. When you ask the right questions, you get the right answers, which is what helps you push on through whatever obstacle life may throw at you. 

  1. Gravity

We tend to gravitate to the most obvious or dominant thought, and because it's dominant, we move to believe that it's true. At least, this is what people who persevere do when they're choosing goals that ignite their passions. They have this ability because they are in touch with their inner-world to the point where they know their values, they know what they believe, they know what they want, and their life is built around making it happen. 

They sharpen their focus, they focus on building their competence, and they allow their competence to ignite their passion. That's what people who persevere do. 

At the end of each day, ask yourself whether you have done something that left a lasting or positive impact. If you can't answer yes, then go out of your way to do something so that you can say yes. When it comes right down to it, you either will or you won't. It isn't about trying; it's about doing. That's what people who persevere understand.

 

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Do Not Waste Your Purpose

Many people spend half their lives worrying about whether or not they are living the life they were born to live. They worry about the reason for their existence to the point of failing to begin working on finding out why they exist. You may be going through the same predicament. You may be bothered by the fact that you do not know why you exist or what you should be doing to ensure that every day you move closer and closer to fulfilling your destiny. The bad thing about not knowing why you exist is that you will end up living aimlessly and drifting further and further away from your purpose.7055261273?profile=RESIZE_400x

That is why, before anything else, answering the why part of the equation is essential. Before you start a new day, ask yourself why you. Why do you exist? What must you accomplish in life? What change are you supposed to make in the world? Finding accurate answers to these questions may not happen overnight, but once it happens, you have found your purpose. When you discover your purpose, you have to spend less time worrying about things that don’t matter and more time working on ways of fulfilling your mission.

5 signs that you may be wasting your purpose.

  1. Failing to commit to what needs to be done.

   “I need some inspiration,” “I am too tired to begin,” “This can wait.” Do any of these statements sound familiar? If Yes, then you may be wasting your purpose without realizing it. It would be best if you changed such statements into something more positive. For instance, “I may not feel like it, but I will begin anyway.” Refusing to allow your emotions from getting in the way of doing what needs to be done will help you keep improving and continue growing.

  1. Failing to plan for your future.

   If you don’t have a plan for your future, any proposal that comes your way is good enough. How many times have you diverted from your initial plan? Giving in to ideas that cannot contribute to your destiny and failing to plan for your future may be the only thing stopping you from living your purpose.

  1. Complaining about everything.

   Nothing good ever comes out of complaining about things you don’t like or things that are happening in your life. Forget about past failures and disappointments and begin concentrating on methods of improving and effective ways of meeting your daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, as well as yearly goals. 

  1. Spending too much time on activities that have nothing to do with your development.

   An hour of meaninglessly browsing the internet, constantly posting on social media, or too much TV are all signs that you are wasting your purpose. If you genuinely want to begin getting a step closer to accomplishing your goals, you have to stop wasting your time on things that have nothing to do with fulfilling your destiny.

  1. Failing to manage your finances properly.

   Impulse buying, overspending, or not spending enough money on things that contribute to your development are signs that you may be wasting your purpose. Knowing why you exist will help control your spending habits. It will help you manage your finances wisely, avoid overspending or impulse buying, and start spending money on things that can make some difference in your life. Begin spending your money on things that contribute to your destiny or things that can take you yet a step closer to your goal.

 

10 ways of ensuring you get a step closer towards fulfilling your purpose every single day.

These tips should be of great help in fulfilling your purpose:

  1. Complete your tasks.
  2. Work on your goals.
  3. Have a well-researched plan in place.
  4. Avoid negative self-talk.
  5. Stop complaining about everything that goes wrong.
  6. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before working.
  7. Network with the right people.
  8. Look for opportunities and create them.
  9. Commit yourself to make a change and live your Heart’s Desire.
  10. Prioritize your physical health, mental growth, and emotional well-being.
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Most who write in a journal regularly do so to figure out some variation of “Who am I?” While this may not be the specific focus of your entries each day, it is the reason for keeping a journal, in many cases. Journaling is a way to discover yourself, clarify who you are and what you believe, figure out what you want, and uncover your real self. Journaling helps you read your thoughts, which leads to understanding your true identity even more clearly.6973134671?profile=RESIZE_400x

The Importance of Self-Identity 

The most important task we can pursue as humans is to know ourselves well and connect who we are with what we do. Journal writing is an activity that helps you achieve both things. But why is self-identity so important? Here are a few reasons.

Self-Identity is Key to Accomplishing Your Goals 

Knowing yourself is crucial to realizing and controlling your thoughts, emotions, and actions in your daily life. Your identity guides everything you do, including your reasons for doing them. When you do not know yourself, you make decisions based on whims or because of other people, not based on what is important to you. So, self-identity is crucial if you want to set goals for yourself that are meaningful and important to you as well as for helping you engage in the actions and decisions that will help you realize these aims.

Self-Identity Promotes Happiness and Self-Love 

It is impossible to love yourself when you do not know who you are. Understanding your real identity is necessary if you want to appreciate who you are, be content with the life you create, and learn to love everything about yourself. And the happier you are with yourself, the more love and understanding you have to share with the rest of the world. Loving yourself is crucial if you ever hope to love others.

Self-Identity Helps Create Balance in Your Life

Contentment in life comes when all parts of your existence find balance and harmony with each other. When your values and beliefs are congruent with your actions and emotions, when your goals are consistent with your decisions, when your motivations are in sync with your habits, you will enjoy contentment. But this type of balance is not possible without knowing yourself and understanding your identity. 

Journaling for Self-Identity

 Writing in a journal every day will increase your understanding of who you are as well as help you clarify those parts of your identity that are not aligned with other parts of your life. Journaling helps get you in touch with who you are, but it is also a way to see how your identity changes and evolves. 

Whether you are considering taking the leap and start journaling or you already write in your journal every day and are looking for ways to use your habit to improve your self-identity, then these prompts may help. The following are journal prompts that can promote self-identity and help you understand yourself better. Happy writing!

  • If everyone was paid $10 an hour, what would you do?
  • What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t (yet)?
  • What are the biggest regrets in your life?
  • In the coming year, what about your life that you would like to change?
  • What is your biggest strength? How do you use this in your life?
  • Do people see you the way you try to portray yourself?
  • Who are the important people in your life, and why are they important to you?
  • What do you think is something others misunderstand about you?
  • What are you most afraid of?
  • What is one squeaky gate in your community that you would like to oil?
  • What is the best advice you have ever received?
  • What is your most challenging flaw, and what are you doing to improve in this area?
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The most misunderstood aspect of self-care is this – it doesn’t need to be time-consuming, it doesn’t need to cost you money, it doesn’t mean making drastic life changes. Self-care can be small and still serve you in powerful ways. Even the simplest things can provide you with what you need. With that in mind, check out this list of small, influential acts of self-care.6972347461?profile=RESIZE_400x

  • Recycle Content

Recycling isn’t just for the environment. You can recycle content, too. If there is a movie, television show or book that you love, watch it again. Sometimes there is comfort in familiarity. You don’t have to sit at the edge of your seat, waiting for the ball to drop – you know every twist and turn, and that feels good. 

  • Coffee on the Porch

Take a cup of coffee and sit on the front porch and watch the traffic as it passes by your house. Or read a book. Maybe just rock. Quiet time is a vital part of our lives. Most people deprive themselves of this activity. Go-go-go is okay when you are supposed to be moving, but not when you have quiet time. There was a time when I thought people who sat on the porch were wasting time. Now I know it is an essential part of keeping your sanity and being productive.

  • Let it Go

We live in challenging times – the political world is raging on, and we get much of our news from social media. It’s easy to get sucked into arguments with friends and even strangers. Let it go. You won’t change any minds this way, but you will stress yourself out. Don’t look for fragmented news on social media! Most of it is taken out of context and twisted to make the writers point.

  • Compost

Why not take an extra minute or two to toss your old veggies in the compost pile? How is this an act of self-care? You’re spending time in nature, even if it for just a few moments. It will help you fight stress, feel connected to the earth, and leave you feeling more grounded. 

  • Meal and Movie

It’s your day off, treat yourself to a trip to the movies, grab yourself some popcorn and candy, and relax at the movies. But first, go out to eat at a restaurant by yourself. Dining by yourself will be uncomfortable at first. That is okay. 

  • Organize

There is something stress-relieving about organizing. It could be separating your DVD collection into each genre before alphabetizing it. It might be doing the same, but with old records. It’s just taking steps to complete a mindless activity that allows you time to pause and reflect. Unorganized areas are stressful. If you are like me, and this activity is torture, get someone else to organize your space. 

  • Unplug

If you feel on edge, then unplug. Forward your calls to voice mail, put your phone to the side and allow yourself time to zone out. That doesn’t mean chilling out in front of a television or watching movies all day. This is a total unplug. There is a time and place for the other options. This is about letting yourself daydream. It’s great for your brain. It’s when creativity sparks, and your mind chills out. Let it. 

  • Disrupt It

If you notice yourself having negative thoughts, then vocally disrupt them. Of course, this is something you might skip if there are other people around you. If that’s the case, you can opt to disrupt them internally. Regardless of which way you proceed, it’s an effective way to stop self-doubt in its tracks.

Most of these acts will be uncomfortable at first. Practice them till they become a routine part of your life. You will thank yourself.

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Journaling is an activity that has tremendous benefits for your emotional and psychological health. But did you know that your journal can play a key role in your personal growth and development? Not only can writing in your journal help you learn to solve problems better, but it also can help relieve stress, think more clearly, focus on your goals, and connect with your values and beliefs to ensure your happiness and harmony. 6915284466?profile=RESIZE_400x

If you are already someone who journals regularly, then you may just want to tweak your journaling focus, as we outline below. If you have not yet developed the habit of daily writing, then the guidelines shared here could be the structure you need to stop staring at the blank page and start writing.

Using Your Journal for Personal Development

Turn your journal from a personal grip session into a tool for growth by focusing daily on three specific things. Each day, make a practice to write about these three topics, no matter what, and you will soon see how your journal is helping you become the person you want to be.

#1. Gratitude 

Every day, take just a few moments to write about those things for which you are most thankful. Don’t say the same things every day and be specific about something that improved your life or your experience during the previous day. Think of actions or deeds, individual moments, or particular feelings you had. Just a few sentences here is enough to help you see the gifts and blessings you have in your life, which serve as the foundation for your path toward self-improvement. 

#2. Goals 

As a part of your morning routine, take a few minutes to write down or review your goals for the day. When you focus on the outcomes you are seeking, you are reminding yourself of what is important to you right now. This process helps solidify your intention, sets the tone for your day, and enables you to see opportunities that might help you reach those goals as the day unfurls. The more you remind yourself of your goals, the more likely those goals are to come true. While you can (and should) focus on what you want to do that day, make it a regular habit to write out your long-term goals, as well. Over time, you begin to clarify and transform your goals as you can insight and perspective. 

#3. Lessons Learned 

Whether you write in your journal in the morning, at night, or both, take a few minutes to write what you learned in the previous 24 hours. We all learn valuable lessons all the time, especially from others in our lives. Focusing on what you learned keeps you in a growth mindset and helps you appreciate all experiences as learning opportunities. While not all lessons are life-changing, all combine to make you the person you are, and even small lessons play a significant role in your personal growth. 

#4. Log

Finally, your growth journal is a great place to log all your daily activities, record your emotions, vent your frustrations and stress, and work through any problems you might be experiencing in your life. The act of writing things down is especially important for processing. Your daily log can become a place to see patterns and themes in your life, to record quotes that inspire you, to jot down essential thoughts you want to hold on to, and to work through those pesky notions that keep rising. 

Journaling can be a tough habit to start, but once you begin, you will soon see the many benefits of this routine. The more you do it, the more benefits you will see. Your journal can include just about anything you want, but focusing on these four things will enhance its ability to aid in your personal growth.

 

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Introduction 

Everyone has habits that cause a lack of productivity is some form or another. Whether you spend too much time on social media, spend too much money on clothes each month, or eat an unhealthy snack every night before bed, habits can become very powerful and hard to break. 

Although people often associate habits with ones that are detrimental to your health, habits can also be what makes one successful. Habits come from consistency, and by changing just a couple of aspects of your life each day, you can break these habits and turn them into beneficial ones. 6857469683?profile=RESIZE_400x

By staying consistent with your choices and being committed to breaking these habits, you can create a more productive lifestyle and feel more mentally stable.

Causes of Bad Habits 

Bad habits are often a result of boredom or attempting to forget about the stress going on in life. Bad habits are often easy ways to escape reality and forget about the negative thoughts that go on in your mind. Whether it be shopping to forget about the stress at home or watching the television for an extended period, there are ways to recognize bad habits and shift them for a more productive life. 

Rather than trying never to watch television or never keeping snacks in the house, there are ways to adjust these habits and be practical about change gradually. It can seem impossible for a chain-smoker to eliminate smoking from his life entirely but slowly replacing these bad habits can make the process more bearable and even exciting.

How to Break These Habits

There are many ways to think of bad habits in a more positive light by creating replacements that can be consistent in your life and realistic.

By sticking to a specific goal and being gradual in your efforts, you will be more willing to break bad habits and stay consistent over time.

 

  • Choose a Specific Replacement: If you find yourself watching more television than you would like, but you are unsure of how else to spend your free time, read an enjoyable book. Books have been proven to be much better for your mental health and can keep you engaged and excited. By interestingly stimulating the brain, you will be able to stick to a consistent reading routine that is key to breaking the television habit.

 

  • Work on Breaking the Habit with a Friend: Often, working on changing a habit with a friend can keep you much more consistent and motivated. If you are trying to stop snacking on junk food before bed, ask your husband to do it with you. This will cause you to keep each other accountable, and you will want to feel dependable.

 

  • Get Rid of Any Instigates: Getting rid of things that trigger you to repeat these bad habits will ultimately make you less inclined to break them. If you keep junk food in the house but are trying to cut it out, you are allowing yourself to make excuses for yourself to give in to temptation. By keeping the junk food in the pantry to a minimum, you will be more consistent with your goals.

Why Consistency is Key

If you plan to follow a short-term diet plan or eat less junk food without being specific, bad habits will likely be more powerful than your determination. Making healthy choices in moderation rather than restricting yourself allows you to be more consistent with your lifestyle and get rid of the habits that are holding you back. 

Consistency allows you to stay consistent with breaking these habits and replacing them with new ones.

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Your habits, or the things you repeatedly do without conscious thought, play a crucial role in your personality and wellness. As you navigate through life’s challenges, your habits affect your self-esteem by either building your confidence or tearing you down.  Good habits require practice, but they will help build your self-esteem, confidence, and wellbeing.

Positive habits help you grow as a person.  You need good habits to succeed in life.  Developing good habits like these can boost your self-esteem and help you achieve success. 6852231673?profile=RESIZE_400x

Mindfulness 

Mindfulness means being present in the here and now, not worrying about the past or future.  Because the human brain is designed to remember past experiences and to dream and plan for the future, mindfulness takes practice. Mindfulness is a habit that helps you focus on the present situation without complicating your response or decision with negative issues from the past or fear of the future. 

To develop the habit of mindfulness, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How does this situation affect me at this moment?
  • How does this situation make me feel?
  • What can I do right now to change this situation?

Staying in the moment affects your self-esteem by helping you reflect on what you feel.  Mindfulness also enables you to focus on what you can control.  In any situation, you have control over yourself and your reactions. 

Many people practice meditation to help develop the habit of mindfulness.  Meditation requires setting aside time to develop this habit consciously.  The more you practice, the easier it will be, and the stronger your habit of mindfulness will become. 

Setting Goals 

Your self-esteem is tied to your ability to create and achieve goals.  Goals help give your life structure and meaning.  When you accomplish a goal, you increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. 

To improve your self-esteem, your goals must be measurable.  Otherwise, not being able to reach your goals will negatively affect your self-esteem.

Achieving your goals requires having a plan and breaking your goal into manageable steps. Each time you complete a step, your self-esteem increases.

You can build the habit of setting goals by writing your goals down.  By writing your goals, you help commit yourself to achieve them.  Start by writing your goals for the day.  If you’re a busy person, the goal of spending 15 minutes by yourself to meditate or relax is realistic and achievable. 

 Increase your goals as you develop your habit. You may want to increase the time you spend on self-care or add a new goal, like spending more time with your family.  As reaching your daily goals becomes a habit, you build your self-esteem. 

Positive Surroundings

Scientists have determined that your surroundings affect your self-esteem.  If you spend your time with negative people or always hear negative messages about yourself, your self-confidence will suffer.  Over time, negative input can cause you to have a negative personality and outlook on life.

Get into the habit of spending time with positive people.  Surround yourself with motivational objects like posters or pictures of your goals.  Read books or listen to podcasts about how to achieve more in life.  Displaying mementos of your previous successes can also help increase your self-esteem.                                                                                                                              

Many people find that having an orderly work or living area is more positive for them than working or living in a mess. Developing the habit of keeping your area clean and neat not only provides positive surroundings for you, but it also builds your self-esteem, knowing you have control over your environment. 

Gratitude

Gratitude is a habit that affects your self-esteem by building a positive mindset.  Researchers have found that gratitude builds self-esteem by helping a person feel connected to others and by limiting negative self-talk.  When a person is grateful, they feel worthy of what they’ve received and are willing to show kindness to others, taking positive actions to increase their self-esteem.

Gratitude can replace negative self-esteem.  Many people spend their lives apologizing for every slight they imagine they cause.  Apologies are necessary, but people often default to an apology instead of thanking someone.  Imagine you dropped something on the floor, and a stranger picked it up for you.  Do you apologize for dropping it and disturbing them, or do you thank them for helping you?

Your reaction is based on your self-esteem and whether or not you feel like you bothered them. The habit of gratitude helps improve your self-esteem so you can accept help from others.

The habits of mindfulness, setting goals, being in positive surroundings, and gratitude strongly affects your self-esteem.  Good habits build your self-esteem every time you complete a positive step toward your goals. 

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Scientists and doctors describe emotional health as how well you control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. People with good emotional health are aware of their emotions, both positive and negative, and know how to deal effectively with them.  Your habits can help or hurt your emotional health by creating a positive or negative mindset and affecting your actions. 

Habits develop over time to the point where you aren’t aware you do them.6824440063?profile=RESIZE_400x

 They become automatic and part of your personality. These habits can harm emotional health: 

  • Negative Self-Talk
  • Negative Surroundings
  • Perfectionism 

Negative Self-Talk 

Self-talk is your beliefs about yourself and your abilities.  It’s the quiet voice inside of you telling you that you can or can’t accomplish something.  Negative self-talk can become an internal repetition of reasons you think you can’t succeed. 

Negative self-talk comes from previous failures and from listening to the poor opinions other people have about you.  Everyone fails sometimes, but when you accept those failures as the best you can do and don’t work toward improving yourself, doubts about your abilities become negative self-talk.  Thoughts and emotions like, “I can’t do that,” and “I’m not good enough for that” are messages of negative self-talk. 

Unfortunately, some people try to make themselves feel better by speaking badly about others.  Constructive criticism helps you improve, but negative comments from others listened to long enough will be incorporated into your self-talk.  Do not tell yourself you are polite by listening to them. If you respect yourself, you will remove yourself from the conversation—some people you will need to love from afar. Your future depends on your decision! 

Negative self-talk harms your emotional health in multiple ways.  It lowers your self-esteem and makes you less likely to try something new that you might succeed in achieving.  These missed opportunities reinforce your negative beliefs and add to your negative self-talk.  Letting negative self-talk stop you from reaching your goals isn’t a healthy, effective way to deal with your emotions or thoughts. 

Negative Surroundings

A positive mindset is based on optimism.  To grow as a person and achieve more in life, you need to have a positive mindset when faced with life’s challenges.  Your surroundings support your mindset.  If your surroundings are negative, you won’t get the reinforcement you need to become and stay positive. 

Schools, businesses, and organizations adopt mascots, mission statements, and mottos to create positive surroundings.  It would be best if you had positive surroundings in your daily life too.  Negative influences can develop into a habit that harms your emotional health.

Imagine your house or apartment has bare walls and is full of clutter and unfinished projects.  Now imagine your living space full of cherished mementos, pictures of fun activities, and motivational and inspirational posters.  Living in the first space doesn’t support your emotional health because it doesn’t contain anything positive for you to reflect on and only reminds you of your failures to complete your goals.  If living in this type of space has become a habit, you are harming your emotional health.

The people you spend time with and the books, movies, and music you use for entertainment may also be part of a habit of negative surroundings.  Do your friends spend all their time gossiping instead of planning for the future?  Do you look for entertainment from media about growing and being a better person?  Changing your habits of where and how you spend your time affects your emotional health.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a habit that can affect your emotional health through stress and unintended consequences.  Of course, everyone wants things to work out the best way possible, but expecting or demanding perfectionism in every situation isn’t realistic or healthy.  Perfectionism becomes a habit when you can’t accept sincere efforts or partial rewards from yourself or others.

Striving to do better is a worthwhile goal.  However, expecting yourself to be perfect the first time you try something only hurts your emotional health.  When your efforts help you achieve a goal, the fact that you aren’t perfect at something along the way doesn’t matter.  Too many people add stress and worry to their lives by trying to be perfect.

Expecting perfection from others may have unintended consequences.  Although you may encourage someone to do well, expecting them to be perfect can ruin your relationship with them.  Other people often view perfectionists as unsympathetic, rude, or mean.  You can support your emotional health with help from others.  If you let your perfectionism push people away, you lose the support you need.  

Psychologists have shown that your habits affect your emotional health and mindset.  Negative self-talk, negative surroundings, and perfectionism are habits that allow you to avoid and change to improve your emotional health and succeed in life. 

I wrote a book to help you change your self-talk. Use the link below to get your copy.

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Do you want to develop good habits or change your bad habits into productive ones? Understanding the psychology of habit formation is essential to forming new habits or changing your old habits.  Knowing how a habit forms will help you create positive, useful habits and get rid of habits that could hurt you.6823179883?profile=RESIZE_400x

Habits Begin with Goals

Researchers at the University of Southern California found that habits come from a motivation to act.  The desired goal influences why a habit is formed.  The motivation can be positive, such as developing healthy eating habits or good study habits in college. 

Motivation can also come from avoidance, creating habits that help you have by keeping you away from troubling people or situations. Low self-esteem can lead to bad habits.  If you don’t feel that you deserve good things, you may develop bad habits that reinforce your beliefs by bringing you negative results.

Goals are centered on what end state a person wants to accomplish.  When an action brings a person closer to their goal, they will repeat and improve on it until it becomes a habit.  The goal could be general, like staying safe or being a better driver, or it could be more specific, like studying to get a degree or losing ten pounds.  The goal of bad habits is usually to escape some unpleasant reality or focus attention on something other than the underlying issue. 

Habits Develop in Three Stages 

Habits contain three stages in a repetitive loop.  Each time a person cycles through the loop, the habit becomes more formed and ingrained as a part of their behavior. 

The three stages are:

  • Cue or Trigger Stage
  • Behavior Stage
  • Reward Stage 

Cue or Trigger Stage

The cue or trigger stage is the circumstance that causes a person to have a goal.  When something new happens, your mind processes the situation as either threatening or non-threatening.  You quickly form a goal to deal with the new situation by fighting, avoiding, or accepting the input. 

Each time you are presented with the same or similar situation, your mind referencesyour previous decision and causes you to act to fight, avoid, or accept it.  Without the cue or trigger, your brain won’t process the situation the same.  Habits are formed first by repeatedly being exposed to the same cue or trigger. 

Behavior Stage

Scientists at the University College London studied the behavior a person does when faced with a cue or trigger.  They found that the more a person performed the same action or response, the more efficient they became at carrying out the behavior.  Over time, the behavior becomes routine and required less thought to perform. 

It takes an average of 66 repetitions for a behavior to become a habit.  Some people develop habits more quickly, while other people need more time.  The emotions attached to the cue and behavior play a role in how fast something becomes a habit.  The stronger the emotions, the more the cue and behavior are reinforced.  

Reward Stage 

The reward for performing an action after a cue or trigger also forms the habit loop.  If an action helps a person to reach their intended goal, the reward signals their brain that the action is useful each time they encounter that cue or trigger.  They will repeat the action over and over to reach the reward. 

As an example, imagine yourself driving a car.  One of the rules of driving is to use a turn signal.  But knowing the rules isn’t enough to form a habit. 

However, if each time you drive and use the turn signals properly, you are able to safely change lanes or make a turn, the reward of safe driving reinforces your action and helps you meet your safety goal. You begin to use the turn signal automatically or habitually, unlike a new driver who must think about using the turn signal when they first start driving. 

Conversely, if you don’t use turn signals and still arrive safely, not using them becomes a bad habit. Your mind won’t make the connection between the action of using the turn signal and driving safely if there is no reward associated with the action.  

Habits Can Be Changed

Once something becomes a habit, you no longer consciously think about taking that action.  Changing a habit requires changing all three parts of the habit loop.  Smoking is a dangerous and unhealthy habit.  To stop smoking, a person must have a different goal than to have a cigarette.

When they are presented with a cue or trigger, like having a drink or after meals, they need to change their action. People trying to stop smoking often chew gum instead when they are cued or triggered to have a cigarette.  The reward of feeling better reinforces the new action until it becomes a new habit and the old habit is replaced. 

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You may think that developing discipline is about limitations. This thought has probably been reinforced by previous attempts at changing your bad habits. It is very empowering to create self-discipline. Think back to when you managed to make a change in behavior that was successful, how did you feel? When you overcome obstacles in your path and accomplish something with consistent work, you feel like you can do anything. 6471341479?profile=RESIZE_400x

 When you are not self-disciplined, you often do not accomplish your goals and feel like you are not worthwhile. You tend to put yourself down more and, in general, have a more negative outlook on life.  You may set yourself up for health issues, in particular those related to obesity, or have trouble in your relationships with friends and family. 

Successful people do not get there just because of luck. They make goals, plan how to achieve them, and then use discipline to form habits that help them accomplish those goals and plans.  They do make mistakes. They do have obstacles. They may even modify the goals or go in a different direction based on working on those original plans. But, they do not quit.

If you want to succeed, you need to develop habits through self-discipline. You may want to get rid of bad habits like watching tv, social media, and overeating. You may want to form good habits such as exercising, reducing clutter, reading more books, watching less television, or saving money. You can accomplish these habit changes if you focus on one or two at a time, and consistently act on those goals over time. One is best, though if you are trying to lose weight, you may find it better to combine dietary changes with exercise.

The biggest obstacle to discipline is not lack of willpower, but a desire for instant gratification. Especially in modern society, everything seems focused on having things done quickly. People eat instant oatmeal or cold cereal instead of having a cooked breakfast. You grab a burger at a fast-food restaurant instead of bringing a healthy lunch to work. Television commercials tell you that you can have this or that right now if you pay by credit card. The problem with that, of course, is the interest you later have to pay on those purchases.

You can improve things where you are not in debt, are healthy and fit, and have stable relationships, but it will require giving up instant gratification and adopting self-discipline. It will not be easy, but you will find it quite empowering to achieve your goals for a better life.

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When you develop self-discipline, you have many beneficial results. These include a sense of accomplishment, more self-respect, and a better understanding of what you can do. The most significant benefit of self-discipline is after a while, you no longer need discipline because it becomes a habit. 6386569269?profile=RESIZE_400x

Discipline is not easy, but it is well worth it. Set a goal and work on the goal every day until the goal is reached, you will have a sense of accomplishment that few attain. You stuck with your dreams and made them materialize. Think back to when you had a goal and worked on it every day until it was done. How did you feel? 

When you discipline yourself to accomplish a goal, you also increase your self-respect. Think of the people you have the most respect for, and why you respect them. Chances are one of those reasons is that they have self-discipline. They set out to do something, and they accomplish it. 

By doing the same for yourself, you can have more respect for who you are as a person. When you do not use self-discipline, you will feel less of a connection to yourself. You will find that you have lower self-esteem as well, and are more likely to fall into negativity. 

You learn more about what you can do. When you set goals and challenge yourself to meet them, you need to follow through. When you do that, you will find out that you can overcome obstacles that you might have thought were too difficult, You learn more about who you are and what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it. 

A lot of times, people put limitations on themselves that is not accurate. Think about something you think is not possible. Is it impossible, or are you setting an artificial boundary? One way to find out is to set a goal and make it happen. If you are a couch potato, you cannot immediately run a marathon, but over time as you build up your body with increasingly more intense exercise, you can. 

 Now it is your turn. Figure out a goal that you want to do and set up milestones along the way. Then each day do something to make those milestones happen. It does not have to be anything major, just one more small step on the way to your final goal. When you reach that ultimate goal, take stock of how you feel about yourself and what you are capable of doing.

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Power of Repetition

Repetition is a powerful tool that helps us learn and master skills. When someone takes piano lessons, they will be given a series of exercises to repeat. These tasks are usually scales and arpeggios. But, after the student masters these they are given more difficult exercises to practice.

Learning a foreign language also requires repetition. By repeating unfamiliar words or using them in sentences, it will become more natural for the learner. People study the words, and they repeat them until they understand what they mean.

In sports, we find repetition in drills, etc. Coaches give the players a series of drills to repeat until it becomes second nature. When the player masters the skill, they won’t even need to be told to use them. Coaches only need to help the players put together a plan on when to use them.

When we were given homework in school, it was often in the form of repeatable tasks. Think back to when you had to learn multiplication tables. You simply keep repeating these until you could rattle them off without effort.

The biggest problem with repetition is people get bored. We love new experiences and the excitement that comes with them. But, when we must repeat tasks often we would rather be doing something else. That is why it’s difficult to bring ourselves to practice the piano or repeat the same words when learning a foreign language, etc.

To help alleviate the boredom of repetitive tasks, you should try to limit the time spent on them. It’s better to practice something in short durations consistently than to try and put several hours into the repetitive tasks. The key is consistency. Try to practice your skills for 15 or 20 minutes per day and then step away from it.

Another problem with repetition is we tend to fall back on it, right when we should be surging ahead. This concept is known as a plateau. When you repeat something to the point that you get good at it, you feel satisfied that you can do the task. When you try to advance to a new level, you tend to revert to this previous task and level. If this happens, try to focus on how you felt when you become skilled at the previous task. That can help you look forward to mastering the new one.

Sometimes, you may need to revisit a previously mastered skill. For instance, after you have mastered it, you set it aside and forget about it. You are a little rusty when you revisit it. The good news is it won’t take much to get it back by using repetition.

 

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7 Day Mental Diet

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