I am fascinated by habits.Maybe because I am such a creature of habit. Yup,I am that person who can eat the same type of food everyday for months. I used to drink 2/3 bottles of Coca Cola a day. For about a year my breakfast every week day was 2 almond croissants (from the same store) with a large mocha to go.Yes I know very unhealthy eating habits but let’s just leave my eating habits for a bit.
Habits are defined as;
‘a settled or regular tendency or practise’
Notice the words ‘settled’ & ‘regular’ which means they are things we tend to do in auto pilot often without putting too much thought into .Most of us just ‘tend’ to brush our teeth everyday (at least I hope everyone reading this does),it’s just a ‘settled practise’. If you are like me most of the time ,you are not thinking of brushing your teeth in the terms of fighting gum disease or mouth decay , you just do it because it’s something you do.
I am just concluding a book by Gretchen Rubin called ‘Better than Before’ and this book really goes into a lot of detail on why and how we can form better habits. One of the things I loved most about the book is how she broke down why all ‘good’ habits cannot work for everyone.I am always so wary when people give other people prescriptive advice on what they ‘should’ be doing.
In the first part of the book she talked about how self knowledge was such a key part in understanding how to form and sustain good habits. ‘ Knowing thyself’ is something I subscribe to and anyone who knows me would have heard me chip it into conversations at some point or the other .Now when I say ‘know thyself’ I am not saying be rigid or inflexible about change.It just means that I think a greater understanding of who you are is a starting point for making sustainable changes.
The image above shows all the 4 tendencies that she outlined.I can’t go into all the tendencies as I am trying to keep posts shorter but based on the above groupings and the explanations in the book I would classify myself as an Upholder. If I am being even honest I would say an upholder with some obliger tendencies which I am gradually letting go of as I grow older. Upholders tend to be people who people can rely on but also rely on themselves.Their motivation is often driven internally and externally while obligers tend to be more externally motivated.
Based on the book and Rubin’s research upholders find it relatively easier(good habits are never easy) to cultivate habits.As indicated earlier,I kinda now know why it was so easy for me to cultivate bad habits. What I have found though in the last couple of years though is that I can exchange those ‘bad’ habits for ‘better’ ones. And while upholders or people like me find it easier,there are so many ways EVERYONE can cultivate better habits.Most people people want to cultivate better habits and ￼listed above are the 7 points that tend to be the recurring theme both from Rubin’s research and people that I know and have come across (including myself).
Let me come back to me and my erstwhile not so great habits for a bit.So even though I used to drink 2/3 cans or bottles of Coca Cola ( I would substitute food for Coca Cola) I have not had a bottle of Coca Cola (or even fizzy drinks) in 11 years. Yes not one bottle/can. I am still fighting ‘other’ sugar battles but at least i have won that one. I substituted Coca Cola with water and herbal teas. And in usual fashion I go overboard (about 3 to 4 cups a day) . I know very over the top.
My point is not really about just patting myself on the back but to emphasise how we all can employ various strategies to cultivate better habits into our daily lives.The secret to becoming better (not perfect) can be found in what we do every day. We can never become what we aspire and dream to be by what we do once in a while.
If you follow my Instagram page you would have probably seen the image below. ￼
I keep posting this manifesto everywhere because I totally agree with every single one of the points listed.Even prior to reading this book, I can truly say from living and trying every single point that they are true and really work. She just wrote down what I would have struggled to articulate as perfectly as she has.
Until i changed my surroundings to exclude fizzy drinks it was harder to resist drinking them.Except you tell me ahead before visiting I can’t serve you Coca Cola as I rarely have Coca Cola in my house. My husband buys it once in a while but now it’s not even a drink i would go for. And no i am not saying Coca Cola is bad if had once in a while or not as regularly as I did but I couldn’t so it was best for me to give it up totally.
Until I started monitoring what I ate, I didn’t realise how much I was overeating. Or monitoring how much time I spent in front of screens or how much money I spent buying stuff I didn’t really need. Until I monitored,I couldn’t look for ways to do better.
I could give examples for every single one of the points raised but I guess you just have to take my word for it.It is not easy to cultivate better habits but it is extremely rewarding.I am still a work in progress but I am learning to take each day at time and trust that consistency always eventually pays off.
So my last point today apart from recommending the book (find details on my book highlights if you follow me on Instagram) is to think of one area you think you can do better. Think of a bite sized way you can try to incorporate it into what you do regularly.e.g I want to be more active’ maybe try walking 20 mins everyday. Make it easy so maybe walk to the station instead of driving or park at a farther bay.
Before you know it, you are getting more active and it’s something that just comes to you as naturally as eating or sleeping or brushing your teeth.
Thank you for reading and please do share this blog with others. Have a lovely Tuesday and week ahead.
Book pages: ‘Better than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin