A Beautiful Guide to Habits: Resources and Science

This is just a round-up of my favorite resources about creating and maintaining good habits.

A habit has 3 parts:

  1. The cue
  2. The routine
  3. The reward

It’s really hard to break a bad habit, but you can replace the routine with something else that gets you the same reward.

For example, if you get stressed out (cue) and go eat a snack (routine) to feel better (reward), you could replace the snack with something else that makes you feel better, like a cup of tea, a walk around the block, or calling a friend.

If you want to start a new good habit (routine), you need to give it a solid cue. For example, if you want to start doing sit-ups, your cue might be going to the bathroom. Every time you go to the bathroom (cue) you do three sit-ups (routine).  The cue doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be something you’re already doing.

Measure what matters.

Studies show that we pay more attention to what we measure (kind of obvious). So if you want to be more mindful of something, like a habit, you need to track and measure it.

It also helps to schedule things; actually putting an appointment on the calendar to go to the gym might help you achieve it.

Finally, having support and accountability are key. Finding a friend, accountability partner, or group of like-minded people will help you achieve your goals.

Habits 101

  • Focus on physiological fundamentals because a) you have limited willpower and b) they will have the biggest long-term impact.
  • Identify one keystone habit that will MOST improve your life, and start there.
  • Make a 100% commitment for a set period of time.
  • Make it a daily habit.
  • Make it easy to win (tiny habits). Allow yourself to suck. Doing one push-up every day is better than 50 a day that you never do.

“One who has a clear and strong why can endure almost any how.” —Nietzsche

Resources for Going Green

It’s amazing to me how much my attitude has changed in just the last few weeks about what it means to live my best life––my definition has expanded to include eating organic foods and wanting to “go green” in other areas of my life.

But I have so much still to learn!  I feel like every new thing I learn opens up six more questions.  For instance, I just recently learned that cotton is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to chemical pesticides and fertalizers––because it’s not a food crop, people dump all kinds of crap on it.

I know I can’t make all these changes at once, but sometimes it’s tough to know where to start.  That’s why I was excited to find Co-op America and their National Green Pages. There is so much information on this web site, I barely know where to begin––and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface––but the National Green Pages are “the nation’s only directory of screened and approved green businesses.”  Looking for an organic cotton t-shirt?  Now you know where to look.

Also?  I’m now dying to go to Co-op America’s Green Festival in Chicago at the end of April.   Anybody up for a road trip?

To Work, Or Not To Work…

…Isn’t a question I have the luxury of asking any more. Two months ago, my husband and I picked up our lives and moved from the O.C. to the Denver metro area in Colorado. We love it here — despite all the snow — except for one thing: we’re both having more trouble than we expected finding jobs. It’s not for lack of trying, let me assure you, but whether it be because of the time of year or some other factor, we haven’t been wholly successful.

The good news is that we planned for this eventuality; we moved with several months’ expenses saved. The bad news is that we are rapidly coming to the end of those savings.

As of last week, however, I went from being woefully unemployed to having a contract position with a publisher in town. The job will last at least a few more weeks and will provide us with enough income that we can both keep looking for the right job without having to freak out about things like paying rent and feeding the cat.

Unfortunately, my first week back at work completely threw me off! All my best intentions about exercising, eating healthfully, and keeping the house neat and organized flew out the window as soon as I was back in the cube life, doing the daily grind.

It was a huge shift for me, going from having unlimited free time back into the working world, and it reminded me why all of these things are a challenge in the first place.

I’m just rounding out week two of being back at work, and I’m happy to report that I’m beginning to get back into the swing of things. It’s all about choices, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been choosing wisely this week: I’ve been eating a lot more fruits and vegetables after reading “Unhappy Meals” last weekend, and the Husband and I plan to go to Wild Oats this weekend to stock up on healthy whole foods; I finished the book I checked out from the library — BEFORE the due date! — by choosing to read in the evenings instead of watching TV shows I don’t care about (you’ll never get me to give up Heroes, but that’s another story…); my dear Husband has been taking on a lot of the household chores during the day, but I’ve made a point of cleaning up the kitchen and doing my before bed routine — at least an hour before I’m ready for bed, so that I’m not too sleepy to do it!

And that’s really all it is, isn’t it? The steps to becoming beautiful are just baby steps, the steps to whole living building blocks that gradually grow into something monumental. So, for now, I’ll take what I can get and celebrate the little victories every day.

Time to send out some more resumés!

Becoming Beautiful

If you could live your best life every day, what would it look like?

Would you enjoy every moment, find time to meditate, eat more vegetables?  Would your laundry be done, the checkbook balanced?  Would  you spend more time with friends and family, or would you find more time for yourself?

How do you reach your full potential, and would you recognize it when you got there?

How do we stop listening to all the negative voices from inside and from out and learn to love the person we are, the body we were given, and the soul that transcends both? How do we learn to live in this modern world, make use of all the gifts technology provides, and still do the best we can to ensure our planet’s future?

How do we answer these questions?  I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Stay tuned.