18 Apr For happiness…habits are everything
Boost your happiness with positive habits.
Achieving happiness requires nothing more than practising a few simple disciplines each and every day.
Do the right things, regularly, and happiness will be yours.
All of this and more is summed up nicely in this great article from Psychology Today…
Habits Are Everything
You might know how to be happy, but can you do it?
Published on April 14, 2012 by Christine L. Carter, Ph.D. in Raising Happiness
Watch a video of any elite athlete or performer before a big game or show, and you will likely see one thing: their pre-performance habits, the things that they do every single time in exactly the same way.
This is because habits are everything. Not just for game-day, and not just for elite performers. For normal people like you and I, for raising our children, for being happy in our relationships, for being happy as individuals.
Our routines and habits allow us to access a part of our brain that runs on relatively little gas. The newer (in evolutionary terms) part of your brain—your smarty-pants pre-frontal cortex, the area that sets you apart from the family dog,—works pretty well, of course. But it requires effort and willpower to make it tick. The more you use it throughout a day, the less reliable it becomes. Low blood sugar? Your decision-making will falter, whether you realize it or not.
Good thing there is a back-up plan in the older part of your brain: your basal ganglia, a primitive knob of tissue deep in your noggin that acts as your own personal auto-pilot. It controls your breathing, and swallowing, and that weird way that you sometimes drive to work while sort-of unconscious.
Your basal gangla is, among other things, your habit center. And once it is programed, it requires no effort on your part to accomplish truly amazing feats. (Really. Charles Duhigg, in his inspiring book The Power of Habit, gives a detailed account of the way Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps won his world records by honing his habits.)
This means that when we are too tired to think, as we parents often are, we default to our habits. Which made me realize: our habits are our most critical cornerstones for happiness.
I have long advocated finding habits and routines with our children that actually work. A working routine, I believe, doesn’t have to be the most efficient or productive routine; it’s simply one that makes us feel good, or at least it doesn’t make us feel bad.
We need a dinnertime routine that creates feelings of gratitude rather than annoyance, for example, and a morning routine that doesn’t make us want to lay our heads down and cry before we even get the kids to school. We also need bedtime routines for ourselves and our children that don’t leave us exhausted and irritable.
An important caveat: cultivating habits and routines doesn’t mean that we go through life mindlessly. I mention this because mindfulness—when we consciously pay attention to what we’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing in the present moment, without judging our thoughts and feelings as “good” or “bad”—is a research-tested way to reduce our stress and, generally, be happier.
How can we be mindful about things we do habitually?
…keep reading more HERE
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