Book Review: The Power of Habit

“To modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it” — Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

I often talk about the importance of mindfulness: living in the now, savoring new experiences, pulling yourself out of autopilot in order to be present in the current moment. Some people go so far as to claim that practicing mindfulness is the best approach for a happier life. Yet, others claim what seems like the opposite: that autopilot can be our friend, and that habits can make our lives simpler and happier.

My philosophy is currently floating somewhere in the middle. I think both mindfulness and routines are necessary for the pursuit of happiness. We can use our mindfulness practice to become more aware of our personal habits, which can help us eliminate unnecessary decisions and leave us more energy for things that will make us happier.

ThePowerOfHabitNew York Times investigative journalist Charles Duhigg agrees (although his point of view definitely focuses a bit more on the habits side of things). In his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Duhigg unpacks how harnessing our habits can transform our lives, businesses, and communities for the better.

The transformation starts with understanding the mechanics of a habit. The “habit loop” structure is pretty simple: First, there is a cue, which triggers a routine, which is validated by a reward.Read More »

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The Balance Between Self-Care and Making Excuses

Recently I’ve been struggling to put words on the page. It’s the busiest season at work. I’ve been grieving the loss of a loved one. I’ve had some valid excuses. Stress and grief can both get in the way of creativity, and they drain you — so as you can imagine, I haven’t been feeling quite as creative as usual this month.

At first, I was proud of myself for taking a little break. I was prioritizing imperfection to make room for self-care, giving myself time to reboot and rebalance — all of the things I’ve touted as smart ways to take care of yourself.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to sit down and work on some writing, but the more time passes between blog posts, the more the self-doubt starts to creep in. What if my writer’s block doesn’t let up? What if what I write isn’t “good enough”? 

When I realized that fear-based thinking was becoming the driving force for not writing — as opposed to intentional self-care — I knew I had to stop making excuses.

Read More »

Tip of the Week: Pursue Balance

IMG_6192-balanceLast week, in an effort to express my ideas about pursuing balance, I accidentally wrote a poem! This week, I am going to give it another try and see if I can articulate my thoughts a little more concretely.

Staying balanced is challenging. We all juggle a lot, from social time to “me” time, personal responsibilities to professional responsibilities, and spiritual pursuits to physical pursuits. Everyone prioritizes these things differently, and it’s important for us all to figure out where we personally feel the most centered. If we stay focused on pursuing that center, we can avoid unhealthy extremes, maintain a clearer perspective, and keep our stress levels more in check.

So, ask yourself — where is my center?Read More »

Flying

“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” — Osho

small-image_flyingSome days, life’s windstorms can knock us over.
It can be hard to keep our balance.
Other days, the waves of our emotions
     whip us up, down, around
We crave stillness. Read More »

Tip of the Week: Stand at Your Desk

This week’s tip: Stand up!
StandingDesk

Have you heard that “sitting is the new smoking”? Sure, it seems a little extreme at first, but if you read up on the research, it’s true: too much sitting can correlate with major health risks. In an informative blog post, James A. Levine, MD, PhD (of the Mayo Clinic) outlines a variety of sound reasons why sitting too much is probably impacting your overall health. Too much sitting can cause:

  • Sluggish nervous systems, which can lead to fatigue
  • Weakened muscles, which can increase risk of back and joint pain
  • Stagnant fat-burning enzymes, which can lead to weight gain
  • Poor blood sugar and blood fat levels, which can increase heart risks

Fortunately, there is no nicotine involved in your sitting habit, so it’s pretty easy to quit! For many of us, our desk jobs are the major culprit for promoting our bad sitting habits. But there is a really easy solution: just stand up!Read More »

Prioritizing Imperfection

looking-at-the-wavesPerfectionism can be difficult.

While on the healthy side, it can push us to excel, enhance our work ethic, and convey that we care, it can also easily tip over to the unhealthy side, causing us to feel “never good enough”, anxious, or ashamed. Being somewhat of a perfectionist myself, I can relate to the good and the bad aspects of the trait — so it is important to figure out a way to keep perfectionism in check and not let it get in the way of our happiness. Read More »

10 Apps That Genuinely Improve My Life

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Tracking and organizing personal data with apps can make a huge difference in your life — especially if it helps you become more mindful, healthy, or productive. On top of that, many apps out there make accessing great literature, music, news, and education as easy as a tap or a swipe! Although I often talk about the importance of unplugging and connecting with nature, I won’t deny that technology can also provide valuable tools for increasing happiness, efficiency, and knowledge. It’s just all about the balance!

Here are my top 10 favorite apps that work together to enhance my personal daily life (from waking up to bedtime!)Read More »