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How to Create a Successful Healthy Habit

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

Yesterday, we completed 3 weeks of the Ten Percent Happier, New Years Meditation Challenge along with our clients at Restorative Wellness and Weight Loss through the Ten Percent Happier app.

Wendy (I) managed to do it every day and stayed motivated by 3 things:

1 - It has become a nightly habit before I go to bed to help me ease into sleep

2 - I feel the benefits of doing it regularly

3 - I felt that since everyone could see my progress, I also needed to set a good example!

As the person who invited everyone to the challenge, I had the ability to view how everyone else was doing. It is pretty amazing to see how often everyone meditated at least one time for a few days, some even a few times a day. It also made me realize the value of meditating regularly and what it offers. Meditating daily has personally made me calmer, more focused and mindful and helps me fall asleep easier.

Meditation is simply exercise for your brain. It is a proven technique for preventing the noise in your head from leading you around by the nose. Once you get the hang of it, the practice can create just enough space in your head so that when you get angry or annoyed, you are less likely to take the bait and act on it. Essentially, meditation can rewire your brain.

As a subscriber of the Ten Percent Happier app I also have access to all the great lessons so I decided that instead of waking up and immediately responding to the morning texts, I would listen to the one on Healthy Habits. It was so powerful, and important to learn for me and for all our clients that I am now sharing it with you. Here it goes...

Healthy Habits - Lesson #4

When we get started with a new healthy habit, it is tempting to give the Drill Sergeant the reins but the Drill Sergeant thinks that the only way we can achieve a new habit is willpower, but willpower doesn't hold up to stress and real life situations. Instead of signing up to the rules of doing something every day, sign up for the concept of experimentation to figure out how this is going to fit into your life and what gets in the way. The only way you figure that out is is for things to get in the way and to learn from it. This attitude can be a huge relief.

3 ingredients of experimentation are the 3 E's:

  1. Environment - look for ways to make your environment both a reminder of your goal and support your goal. Look for ways to give your environment access to the things you are trying to build in your life. ex. leave your sneakers out so you see them first thing in the morning so you remember to run.

  2. Ease - use the "10-Minute Rule". What's the thing you are going to do that takes 10 minutes? When the 10 minutes are done, you know you've done something consistent with your goals. If 10 minutes is too much, shrink it ot a version you can actually do. Sometimes it's even the "1 Minute Rule". What's one super easy step you can take now that is consistent with behavior you are trying to cultivate? ex. breathe before each meal.

  3. Enjoyment - Make it enjoyable by figuring out how you can find joy in both the activity itself and the meaning of it. ex. exercise. One way is to rig joy into it to make the experience more pleasurable by doing it in nature, or having an amazing playlist that gives you an endorphin rush (and adding my favorite song, "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen), or doing it with someone you care about. Once you see the pleasure of doing it, your mind/brain wants to double down. The best ways to get in a new behavior anchored into your life is to look into the benefits and let your pleasure center of your brain pull you forward.

Having the spirit of experimentation is the antidote to a sense of failure, regret and shame. It's a growth mindset. Pay attention also to how your habit doesn't happen and celebrate that as a success because you learned something about your process. When you know how something happens or doesn't happen, you have entry points so you can continue to adjust things like timing, finding a support buddy, or the task itself by finding something you are willing to do. In the process, you learn about yourself and you learn about the habit. Think of this as an opportunity to learn. If it is something we are willing to learn from it can be transformative but a typical reaction is "I failed again". You didn't fail, the habits of mind were just more the powerful in the moment than the skillful qualities of mind-like awareness and once those start to be more balanced, you will start to see the difference.

~Taken from the 10% Happier book by Dan Harris

~Taken from the Ten Percent Happier App Lesson #4 Healthy Habits

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