Healthy Living

4 steps you should take to create good habits and live better

What drives you? Feelings, as we established in the previous story in this series. I know, I know. You’re going to say you’re rational, feelings aren’t involved, or you do what’s logical. But being rational or logical still serve an underlying feeling: righteousness or a sense of control, for example.

Now we’ll talk about four steps to help you translate the feelings you desire into healthful actions.

This is the seventh installment in a new WorkWell series, Healthy Living Basics for Everyone. The sanely paced plan helps you with nutrition, exercise and lifestyle and includes a mental component that helps clarify goals and identify why might hold you back.

First, if you missed the last story, take a moment to read it and create:

  1. A list of your eating and exercise patterns, along with the reasons you believe you follow each pattern.
  2. Short descriptions of how each pattern and its corresponding reason make you feel, along with flags for each feeling you want to have and each you don’t want to have.
  3. A list of feelings you want to have.

This information will give you the clarity you need for the next steps.

Step 1: Admit resistance.
Consider the areas in your life where you resist. This often involves situations where the best version of yourself (your inner voice) tells you what to do, but the action-oriented side of yourself won’t comply. Or maybe you complain about something repetitively, or get irritated, angry or despondent. Write down your areas of resistance, beginning with what’s obvious right now and add to it for one week, as you notice yourself resist things.

Step 2: Go backwards.
Look at the feelings you want to have and highlight them. Now look at your list of eating and exercise patterns. Consider which patterns allow you to have the feelings you want and which prevent you from having those feelings. Note the patterns that are unhealthy or unhelpful to your aspirational feelings. Now compare them to your resistance list. See any connections or matches? It’s possible for patterns to serve both a feeling you want and one that you don’t want. When that happens, still note the pattern.

Step 3: Make a choice.
Which actions are you willing to part with on your resistance or patterns lists? Consider the feelings that arise when you say “yes” and when you say “no.” Then choose “yes” or “no” for each.

Step 4: Revaluate, and then try.
You might waver in coming moments, days, weeks, even months. Along the way, check in using this method: Identify what you miss out on for each “no.” What are those nos costing you? And confirm for yourself what you gain for each “yes” — this will be encouraging. Let the tipping of the scales guide you toward healthful choices that could lead to the feelings you want.

You won’t know until you try, so give it a go. If you don’t feel happier, calmer, fitter — you choose the feeling — you can always go back to what you were doing before.

Journalist and yoga teacher Mitra Malek regularly creates content for wellness-focused outlets, including Yoga Journal, where she was an editor. Learn more at www.mitramalek.com.

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