Habit change can be bittersweet, can’t it? One minute you’re riding high on a sea of change and the next? Well…your brain sabotages every effort you make to change, create new habits, and bring more happiness into your life.
I can’t count the number of times in the past year I’ve tried to get up off the couch and start running or cycling again. Once my brain gets involved, it’s all downhill from there. Our brains do their very best to convince us that changing is a bad idea.
The key is to just get up, put on your workout gear, and get moving.
Embrace change. Take action.
And while I love embracing change and creating new habits, I’ve learned that it’s a process. And one that has to be done slowly. Creating lasting change means taking one small step at a time.
Habit change is about learning to remove the things that get in our way. Mainly ourselves. And our nasty brains that love to sabotage every little change we try to make for the better.
If you truly want more happiness and simplicity in your life, you first have to get used to discomfort. And then you have to practice changing your habits. But SLOWLY.
Slow change can be difficult, especially when you want things to change right away.
But what if instead of obsessing over the outcome and the finish line, you focus on the present moment instead? Changing habits is the perfect time to learn to deal with discomfort, to enjoy the process, and to find happiness in each step of the way.
With that in mind, here are a few habit changes to help add more happiness and simplicity to your life.
1. Ditch the “busyness” habit.
I’m sure at least once this week you’ve said, “I can’t. I’m busy,” or “I’m so busy.” You’ve done that, right? It’s not just me?
The “I’m so busy” habit tells your friends, family, and your own brain that you don’t have time for them or for yourself. It says to the world, I am choosing to always be busy because that’s all that is important to me.
Ummmm…..no. You’ve got other stuff you love to do, right?
I know I do. Saying I’m so busy all the time leaves you in a permanent state of chaos. That’s not exactly conducive to living a happier, simpler lifestyle, is it?
So, if there’s any habit change you make — please make this one a priority. Changing this habit can be as simple as using time blocking, prioritizing what’s important to you, and saying no to things that don’t move your life forward.
Try this: Use different language. Practice mindfulness. Take time for self-care.
2. Stop saying you’re fine.
How many times a day do you hear “I’m fine” in response to “how are you?” Saying I’m fine is a lack of mindfulness. You’re not present, so you dish out an atypical response to everyone. Try switching it up and saying, “I’m great” or, “I’m fantastic.” You’d be surprised at how much happier you’ll feel. And friends and family will find you’re more pleasant and uplifting to be around. No one enjoys being around Debbie Downer.
As a barista, I’m used to receiving the customary “I’m fine” when I ask how my customers are. It’s boring and only shows you are a zombie sleepwalking your way through life. On occasion, though, I get a customer that will enthusiastically chime, “I’m fantastic!!!” Guess how that makes me feel? Fantastic too! It’s wonderful to hear someone openly say that they’re enjoying life and the moment they’re in. And…it’s contagious!
Try this: For a week, try telling everyone, “I’m fantastic!” With enthusiasm. And if they ask why, give them one small simple thing you’re grateful for.
3. Become less of a worrywart.
Worry is a habit. Simple as that. And it’s a habit you can change.
Worry starts with a nagging thought that soon multiplies into a few more thoughts. And before you know it, you have a worry hurricane on your hands.
To stop all that noise in your head, slow down and reconnect with the present moment. When I’m stuck in a place where I’m worried about the future, I pause, take a deep breath, and ask myself: What is one small step I can take right now to move forward or improve this situation? After that, I take the next small step.
Because I’m a big-picture thinker, I often see the outcome but forget that I need to take all these small steps in between to get there. What happens? I get frustrated or let anxiety and worry take over because I’m not where I want to be. I always have to remind myself to take small steps. What’s the next small step? And when I’m working out, to keep myself motivated, I’ll tell myself: one step after the other, or one pedal push after the other.
Try this: Focus on the present moment. Sneak in some exercise. Laugh.
4. Complaining is for four-year-olds.
When we complain, we’re openly telling the universe we’re not enjoying our life circumstances and that we’d like more of whatever it is we’re complaining about.
Your message: “Why are people so disrespectful?”
What the universe hears: “I need to send that person more disrespectful people into their life. They seem to enjoy it.”
Sure, we all complain from time to time when we’re tired, sick, or feeling a bit low. It happens. But aside from that, going through life complaining not only repels people, but it also attracts more of whatever you’re complaining about into your life.
Try this: Gratitude. Self-Care. Practice Yoga.
5. Stop trolling social media, looking for the “next best,” or searching for greener grass. Stop comparing.
This should be the tagline for the entire online dating world. The quest for the “next best thing” has gotten a little out of control. Wait, no. It’s an epidemic. And it applies to all the stuff we accumulate too. We spend so much time online; we compare everything and are always searching for the next best thing.
When you’re always looking for the next best thing or wondering whether the grass is greener somewhere else, you’re not being mindful and present. Instead, you’re focusing on what could be. You’ll never be happy if you’re always wondering about what could be.
Social media is a never-ending pool of the next best. If you get lost in it, you’ll soon lose any semblance of your life and forget to live it. The next thing you know, 3 hours of your day is chewed up looking for the next best relationship, the perfect dress, or trying to make your life look like someone else’s.
Try this: Do a digital detox and be mindful of your smartphone and social media use.
6. Stop micro-managing your money.
We’ve made micro-managing and worrying about our money one of the worst habits of all. And you know what? We’re getting more debt in return for all that worry.
When I lost my job, I stopped worrying about money. I even ditched my budget. No, I didn’t win the lottery or get a huge severance (nor have I lost my mind). I simply told myself things will work out, the Universe is abundant, and I’ll take care of myself and my bills. I always have. I’ve always made things work.
I stopped worrying about every dime I spent, how much debt I had, or what my net worth was, and I decided that it was in my best interest to push the worry aside. Trying to build a business when you’ve got a ton of worry and anxiety on your shoulders does not help your creativity or productivity.
Go about living your life and earning more with full energy. You’ll soon realize, like I did, that you are good at managing money and making good spending and saving decisions when you’re not carrying a full load of money anxiety around.
Try this: Read Worry-Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons.
7. Focus on abundance instead of lack.
Focusing on abundance is uplifting. It’s also very eye-opening. After losing my job, I started focusing on (and being grateful for) all the simple things I had. It’s amazing what happens when you stop taking for granted having a roof over your head, a comfortable bed to sleep in, or healthy food in the fridge.
When you change your habit from focusing on what you don’t have to what you do have, life gets so much simpler. And happiness goes off the charts.
Try this: Start journaling.
8. Simple eating.
I love food. I’m a serious foodie. If I could try all the restaurants in the world in my lifetime, I would. But, when you’re looking for simple and trying to make better use of your money, eating everywhere and all the unhealthy stuff leads to yes, you guessed it – a few extra pounds and an empty bank account. The best thing you can do for yourself, your waistline and your time is to eat simply. Simple, whole foods are the best thing you can do for your health and well-being.
By eating simple, you also cut down on prep and shopping time and avoid the temptation to order takeout when you get home and feel like a herd of elephants has run you over and you couldn’t be bothered to cook. On those days, I sauté up some greens (kale or collards), fry a slice of tofu, add some chili sauce to my plate, and voila! A meal in under 10 minutes without my brain melting.
Try this: Try some new recipes. Cleanse your liver and eat simple foods.
9. Say yes to happy, fun times and no to all the other things.
Cluttering your schedule with stuff that makes you feel like crap isn’t going to make life simple or happier for you. I get it, we’ve all got the “must-do” stuff on our lists, but without any fun time in there, life gets boring. And you’ll eventually be the recipient of a one-way ticket to depressed Ville.
Adding fun time to your calendar works wonders in more ways than one. Not only do you feel happier when you schedule fun time, but you also remove negativity and drudgery from your schedule. And that stops you from buying stuff out of unhappiness or spending all your money trying to find happiness.
So please, for the love of God, schedule things you love to do into your calendar. Say yes to the fun things that light you up.
For me, I make Sundays a self-care day. I make sure to say yes to myself and take care of myself. I do all kinds of things. Sometimes it’ll be something artsy, then maybe a bike ride, and I always, always, always include something beauty related EVERY Sunday. Usually, my once-a-week facial and a soak in the tub.
Try this: Start using a planner. Set goals. Create routines.
If you want more happiness and simplicity in your life, my challenge to you is this: commit to one small change in your life and do it SLOWLY. Put it in your calendar, tell someone else about it and commit to it. Take action, and you’ll get good at change.
Hi Michelle, These are some great suggestions. Changing habits can be so tough sometimes. Especially if we aren’t really aware of some of the habits we have, like answering “fine” when someone asks how you are doing. When someone asks my husband how he’s doing he almost always answers “super duper!” which is funny coming out of a grown man. It usually makes the person asking smile, and then they ask why he’s doing so well. Not only is he waking himself up with responding something other than the expected “fine” he’s also “waking up” the other person and getting them anchored in the present moment again.
Your “Complaining is for 4 year olds” point is something I noticed just this morning that I had been doing a lot this week. I was frustrated with something at work and I realized I had been mentioning it to just about anyone within earshot. And…it REALLY was not helping. When I realized what I had been doing, I decided no, that’s enough, I don’t need to wallow in that anymore. You are so right. The Universe is very literal and will give us more of what we focus on – whether we want it or not.
Love this post!
Hi Amy, thank you! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more! Habit change is super difficult and stressing. When you want to change and know you need to, it’s hard when you fall back into old habits.
That’s awesome to hear your husband does that! Sounds like you’ve got a great guy 🙂
Quite true. Complaining often comes from a place of frustration and impatience. Either with ourselves or directed toward others. By slowing down and trying to understand the situation or realizing that not everyone may have the same knowledge or experiences we do, we can realize our mistake and stop complaining.
Thanks for the post love! I’m so happy you enjoyed it 🙂