One of my favorite quotes of ALL TIME is by the great Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 30-some years on this earth, it’s that I AM what I DO. The habits I create for myself transform my character, my body and soul. For better or for worse.
Habits aren’t always glamorous, fun, or easy, but if continuous personal growth is your goal, they are necessary.
Below I share the seven habits that help shape me into a happy, content, and grateful person.
1.) Quiet Time with God
I have learned the hard way (many and continuous times) that the less time I spend with my Savior, the more chaotic, stressful and difficult life seems. This is not to say there is a magic formula: God Time + Every Day = Perfect Life, but friends, can I tell you something? When I start my day off with Him, life is JUST BETTER. I am more grateful for the blessings in my life and when I’m thrown a curve ball, I know He is there to help me through it.
In order for me to fully benefit from this habit, two things are essential. First, I must be alone, and it must be quiet. Some days I have to wing it if my daughter is playing quietly, and sometimes it has to work when I’m in the car, but overall, my connection with Him is much deeper when I give him the first fruits of my time.
Secondly, I have to include His Word. I’m a writer. I love stories and devotionals, but I often struggle to do the scripture reading “homework.” This isn’t something I’m proud of, but when I apply this necessity, it makes a world of difference.
If I go more than 2 days in a row without intentional exercise, I’m not a nice person to be around. Sure, the physical benefits to exercise are great, but I’m addicted to the way it makes me FEEL.
In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing WHICH forms of exercise make my body feel good. Gone are the days where I will endure a grueling and miserable workout because it promises great abs or amazing calorie burn. The BEST exercise for my body is the one that invites me back time and time again and leaves me feeling ENERGIZED when it’s complete.
This isn’t to say that I don’t love to try new things, but I’m getting pretty good at knowing the movements that make my body happy. I plan on doing this the rest of my life, so it better bring me joy. 😉
3.) Meal Planning
Ok, so I truly just HEARD some of your eyes roll. I get it. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t LOVE this habit, but it is the lesser of two evils.
I’ve tried it the other way (MANY times!). I know there are plenty of you out there who can throw together a dinner like it’s nothing. You probably like living on the edge and being able to eat whatever your stomach is beckoning for that night. Yay! Good for you! But, seriously, THAT way of living stresses me RIGHT. THE. FLIP. OUT.
Even though it takes some time and a good deal of effort every week to plan out dinners (and lunches and breakfasts!), once I’m done, I don’t think too much about it for the rest of the week.
Now don’t go thinking I’m all super woman and stuff… most weeks look very similar with a few tweaks here and there. It gives me peace of mind knowing that at the end of the day, I’ve already made those relentless(!!) decisions.
Yep. It’s another fun one. (You really want to party with me, don’t you? ;))
I have found that if I don’t balance our checkbook AT LEAST every couple of days, I start to feel overwhelmed and nervous about how to keep it all organized. Again, I’ve tried this other ways, and this is the option that provides me the least amount of stress. Yes, we have a monthly budget, but there are constant adjustments throughout the month that if I let them pile up, I suffer from some serious anxiety.
Making this one a regular habit helps me feel secure and in control. (PROBABLY some personal issues there, but I digress. ;))
5.) No Screen Time Before Bed
This is the habit I struggle to keep THE MOST. It’s actually pretty embarrassing to admit that.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that if I fiddle with my phone, iPad, or even watch television within an hour of trying to fall asleep, I have a much harder time settling down. (I know that research and science have proven this time and time again, but I’m a stubborn learner.)
In my mind, I justify it by thinking that it’s relaxing for me. I catch up on articles, research, what my friends and family are up to, or even watch funny videos with my husband. What could be stressful about that?!
But, as we also know, sleep is vital to our health. When I prioritize this habit, I definitely notice a decrease in my irritable tendencies and stress levels and an increase in my overall health and wellness.
6.) Bring Friends Along
Life is super busy for us all, but the one thing I struggle to keep up with the most is the SOCIAL component. Especially with becoming a new mom, I had to re-configure how this fit into my daily life.
My solution has been to bring friends along on this journey called LIFE!
Sure, I still have my girls’ nights and wine dates, but if I waited to be social for those events only, my life would be pretty lonely. Instead, I have an “online” Bible study group with girls that I’ve been friends with for practically ever. Since we all live in different states, this keeps us connected AND accountable to our time with God. (See habit #1;))
Friends have also helped me put together furniture, joined me on grocery shopping trips, and talked to me on the phone while I do mundane chores around the house. I’ve joined an amazing network of mamas through MOPS and I just recently began a 2-person “book/accountability club” with one of my dearest friends from college.
We all have that ONE thing. Or, at least I hope you do. Maybe you have more!
That ONE thing that you LOVE to do JUST for YOU. For me, it’s writing. It brings me to life. It leaves me feeling energized and excited about ALL the possibilities. I have lots of hobbies, but if I don’t do that ONE thing regularly, I slowly start to fade. My soul CRAVES it and needs to be fed. It doesn’t have to be a blog post or something formal, but if I don’t habitually write SOMETHING, it most certainly detracts from who I am.
Please note that the title of this post is 7 Habits to MY Happiness… NOT yours.
I learned what my 7 habits are through lots of mistakes, trial and error, and prayer.
If you hear nothing else today, hear THIS: YOU are what YOU repeatedly do. NOT what I do, not what your family wants you to do, not what others expect of you. Your “excellence” habits could look similar to mine, or completely different. You could have 3 habits that make you a happier person, or 20. The point is that you know yourself well enough to know what brings you that peace, joy, and growth.
I’ve found that keeping these habits help me honor the person God created me to be. He has lavishly blessed me and given me a unique set of gifts. This is my way of showing gratitude and servility for the life I’ve been given.
I want to breathe this into life for you. I want to encourage you to strive for more. Take the time to truly reflect on who you are and what lights that fire inside of you. If you want to change, you must DO the changing. Create healthy and challenging habits for yourself and you will truly understand the wise Aristotle.
It is my hope and prayer that you, my friend, are what you repeatedly do.