The Power of Habits
I recently came across a book titled Atomic Habits and I have had problems putting it down. While I generally steer away from self-help books, this one got me in from the first page. The book is written by James Clear, an expert on habits and decision making. Clear uses the behavioural sciences to help the reader master their habits and improve their health. He focuses on how we can create better habits, make better decisions and live better lives. By combining ideas from a range of scientific disciplines, Clear offers a synthesis of deep wisdom, and the most compelling discoveries scientists have made recently.
If, like me, procrastination is an issue, then you may be interested to hear what James Clear has to say about this very common problem. He states that procrastination affects 95% of the US population and my guess is that the percentages in Australia would be very similar. He also says that as well as being an annoyance it can lead to serious stress and anxiety. The second piece of the procrastination puzzle that Clear identifies is that we often feel tired just by the thought of starting some tasks. Motivation or lack of it is often the key driver here with the problem being that motivation often comes after starting a task rather than before.
This brings us to consider the best habits for health and success and I have identified five areas that experts agree are highly beneficial. The first habit is around developing resilience.This is the ability to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off after disappointment or failure. This is best developed by having a positive attitude and just having a go. The second habit is prioritising regular exercise as this is good for both our physical and mental health. The third habit is maintaining a healthy diet and this is one I struggle with as my go to stress buster is food. Obviously it doesn’t work and can often leave you feeling more stressed after a dose of junk food.
The fourth habit is working on developing a growth mindset. That is the belief that you can improve regardless of circumstance. It is simply an openness to new learning and new understanding. This contrasts with a fixed mindset that basically focuses on a belief that is where we are and this is as good as its going to get. The fifth habit is possibly the most important and that is the need to get a good night time routine in place and, most importantly, get enough sleep.
While I recommend having a look at the book I would also suggest that we consider what we currently do to keep ourselves healthy and happy. For many of us self-care can be our lowest priority, leading to poor health across a range of areas.
Have a great weekend.
Dr Frank Pitt
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