Do your habits lead to joy or misery, or are you even aware of your habits?
It’s interesting when looking up definitions online for the word habit because the meaning leaned toward the negative: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
My tattered Random House dictionary says: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. There is also: the addiction to narcotics.
Where Do Habits Lead?
In the case of forming good habits like losing weight, being fit, gaining knowledge, getting enough rest, or meditating, you don’t really want the habit itself. You want the outcome that the habit will deliver: feeling good, a stronger body, an expanded mind, having more energy, having greater peace.
Some habits are easier to form than others. If you look to social media or watching television as an outcome for relieving stress or to be mindlessly entertained, it’s easy to accomplish that goal. It’s like an addiction to mental candy. This habit, however, can suck hours out of your day and keep you from forming life-giving habits if left unmonitored.
Habits that Lead to Misery
Awareness is the key to having control over your habits and life. That’s why it’s the first secret in my book The Freedom to EAT – 10 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss and Inner Peace.
Until you are aware of the habits that are causing you misery, you can’t form new habits that will lead to joy.
One habit that leads to misery that came to my awareness is my need to do one more thing. I am married to one of the most punctual persons on the planet. Robert is almost always ready early. He is rarely in a rush.
Me, on the other hand, I look at the clock to maximize every second I have. (Typing this, it came to my awareness that my number one strength in the Strength Finders assessment is Maximizer…. huh…I digress.) But this strength will bring me misery instead of joy when I try to do one more thing before I need to get ready.
I cause myself unneeded stress and rob myself of peace. While I’m still punctual, I don’t allow any margin for error when having to leave. So, I need to tell myself that the one more thing I wish to do can wait until later.
Identify the habits you have that cause you misery. There is a great book by James Clear called Atomic Habits – Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results, An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Super helpful and a fascinating read.
Habits that Lead to Joy
One habit that leads to joy for me is observing the Sabbath. I take Sunday off. I don’t sign onto my computer or do any work. Lest we forget, observing the Sabbath is number four of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). Even God rested on the seventh day.
If you don’t observe the Sabbath (Saturday for some, Sunday for others), it is a powerful way to rest, recharge, and connect with God. It’s also a great way to connect to joy.
Creating life-giving habits brings you peace and joy. At first, something is hard, but then, with practice, it becomes easy. Over time, habits become involuntary.
Practicing good habits in the area of health, you’ll want to move your body, nourish your body, and give your body enough rest.
On the relationship front, you’ll want to set dates to connect with friends or a date night with your spouse on a regular basis. My friend, Denise, hired me into the advertising business in July of 1977. We have remained friends ever since.
But throughout the years, months would go by without us setting a date on the calendar to get together. At our last meeting, we decided to make the second Tuesday our night to get together, our new habit. So simple! Yet we never took this small action step.
On the work front, create a habit of having an organized workspace. Environment has a lot to do with helping you feel productive and joyful.
Make a habit of not constantly checking email or social media. You’ll be able to focus by letting go of distractions to get things done.
Your small, repeatable actions turn into habits that lead to joy or misery. What habits can you develop or change to bring more joy into your life? What habits bring you joy? What tips do you have for creating joyful habits? I’d love for you to share in the comments section below.
If you’ve developed some unhealthy habits in the area of putting on or holding onto emotional, spiritual, and physical weight, check out The Freedom to EAT – 10 Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss and Inner Peace. Receive the first two chapters and the table of contents for free.