“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett
You have to hand it to Warren Buffett: for a man known primarily for his financial wizardry, he’s got a knack for words. In fact, this writer had a difficult time choosing which of his quotes to lead off the article. But we’re going to disagree with Buffett on one thing – about habits being “too heavy to be broken.” We can be freed of our habits – it just requires fortitude and patience.
A habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Habit formation is defined by psychologists as “the process by which new behaviors become automatic.”
Every habit that we possess is, literally, a neural pathway that has been inscribed into our brain. We etch these pathways through repetition – until a new habit is formed and cultivated.
In this article, we discuss 15 healthy habits worth forming. You’ll notice that each habit falls into one of five categories: diet, etiquette, finances, health, and general.
Here are 15 habits everyone should try to develop:
1. Cut down on your sugar intake
There are numerous reasons to cut back on sugar: no nutritional value; accelerates fat storage; increases the risk of heart disease; causes tooth decay and cavities; raises blood pressure, and more.
A better option? Get into the habit of storing fruit and healthy snacks (more on the latter below.)
2. Keep a supply of healthy snacks available
Seriously, get a bunch of plastic baggies and fill them with the healthy stuff. Here’s just a short list: almonds, dried fruit, homemade trail mix, low-sugar granola bars, rice cakes, apple slices with peanut butter, carrot sticks – the list is almost endless.
3. Drink 64 ounces of water daily
There is no other substance more important to our body than water. Period.
Every cell in our body uses water to regulate body temperature, moisten tissues, lubricate joints, protect organs, ease digestion, flush waste produces, dissolve essential minerals and nutrients, and carry oxygen throughout the body.
The easier way to make drinking water a habit is to buy a large water bottle, keep it filled, and take it with you wherever you go.
Social Etiquette Habits
1. Put the phone away when someone’s talking
We understand that people use their phones for just about everything nowadays, business purposes included. But did you know that accumulating research shows an overdependence on technology can change your behavior? There are technology addiction therapists, for crying out loud!
Anyways, be courteous and stash the phone occasionally.
2. Practice active listening
Active listening is rare, which is exactly why you should make it a habit. To actively listen is to fully concentrate, understand, respond, and remember what’s being said without preparing your response beforehand.
3. Do something nice for someone
Random acts of kindness are beautiful things. Try to make it a point to do something nice for someone every day. This act of kindness could be a smile, a “Thank You” card, or an email that makes someone’s day.
1. Adopt a simplicity mindset
Practicing simplicity is much more than just consuming less – it is a state of mind. We, as Madonna famously sang, “live in a material world.” Consumerism is at the heart of most economies, but we needn’t participate in it.
To be “financially minimalistic” is to keep your values in mind (e.g. social welfare, ethics, spiritual); to spend your money with intent, and to not be guided by impulse.
2. Forget about “Keeping up with the Joneses”
Okay, a personal story here (forgive me.)
I refuse to buy Apple or Samsung phones (forgive me again, fans of either.) It’s a long story, but let’s just say I worked at Verizon for over three years and came to despise both companies – and Verizon too.
Fashion, automobiles, health and wellness products; nearly everything sold today is replaced with “the latest and greatest” – at a premium, of course.
3. Keep your loose change somewhere
No kidding. Buy a dang Piggy Bank if you have to. Will it look ultra-cool carrying 20 dollars worth of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies to exchange for cash? Who cares?
If you want to one-up your efforts, stash that 20 bucks into your savings.
Health and Fitness Habits
1. Don’t underestimate exercise – even in small doses
Simply put, you don’t need to work out seven days per week.
We wrote an article a while back about the Tabata Interval Training Method – a 4-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) regimen designed by Dr. Izumi Tabata.
The results of Tabata’s research are extraordinary: short periods of HIIT outperform 60 minutes of moderate exercise in every important measurement (e.g. fat burning, recovery time, muscle generation.)
HIIT training involves short bursts of intense exercises and short periods of rest.
2. Get quality sleep
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends around 7 to 9 hours of sleep for healthy adults. That said, sleep quality is just as important.
Simply put, sleep hygiene – habits that help ensure a good night’s sleep – is critical. Lay off the caffeine, limit daytime napping, and having an established bedtime routine are three crucial elements of sleep quality.
3. Make your mental health a priority
We often get so wrapped up in physical exercise that we forget about our ole’ noggin. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled stress the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century.”
Stress-management is undoubtedly the single best habit to form – and there are multiple methods employ. Mindfulness, yoga, meditation, exercise, and deep breathing are just a few ideas.
1. Stay away from drama and gossip
In an ideal world, drama, gossip, and all other forms of unnecessary theatrics wouldn’t exist. There’s nothing to be gained from making too much out of things or participating in gossip sessions.
Mind your business and let others mind theirs.
2. Make your workplace comfortable
If you have to put in the time for “the man,” you might as well be comfortable doing it. Take a look at your desk; can you add something to give it a more “at home” feel? Maybe you love quotes or other motivational stuff. Make them visible.
Trust us; it’ll make your time at work more enjoyable (or at least tolerable!)
3. Stay in touch with your family
Living far from relatives can take its toll on both you and the people you love. Do yourself and them a favor: keep in touch. “Friend” them, text ‘em…or, here’s a novel idea give them a call!
Make it a habit of letting the family know you love and think about them as often as possible.