Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.– Confucius
Life is a funny thing. There is no road map. The best we can do is hope for a strong upbringing, surrounded by a good family and people who care for us. After that, we pray for their love and support as we try to fumble our way through adulthood.
How many of us actually know what they’re doing when they graduate high school? What about college? I sure as hell didn’t.
I grew up as a kid who always succeeded. Every challenge put in front of me I knocked out of the park. As I transitioned out of my parents’ home and into the real world, I felt this enormous amount of pressure to continue succeeding. I realized quickly that I was a small fish in a much bigger pond.
Like so many others, I struggled to adapt to life as a young adult. It was about 7 years ago – I was in college, working part-time, had a mountain of debt, and some health issues that popped up out of seemingly nowhere. I didn’t know it at the time, but later I would be unofficially diagnosed with what can only be described as severe anxiety. That pressure to succeed eventually got to me. As things got harder and harder, the stress kept compounding.
I became best friends with the doctors in my area. I was in their offices every other week either sick or with a new issue that came up.
Now the medical field, in general, is pretty clueless when it comes to mental health disorders. Unless you’ve suffered yourself, it’s damn near impossible to explain what it’s like. Your world feels like it’s falling apart. You’re overwhelmed. And everyone tells you to just “chill out, man.”
Well, I couldn’t. So I took the different drugs prescribed to me over a period of a couple of years, hoping for that magic bullet to make everything better.
Whatever happened to that little boy playing baseball without a care in the world other than what ice cream we were going to get after the game?
Needless to say, I never found that magic bullet. Ironically, only after giving up hope did I finally find some. Modern medicine had failed me, so it was time to take things into my own hands. I started reading. A lot. That led me to start looking at my own behaviors and habits.
Until then, that’s something I never really thought about. I can honestly say that I was on autopilot for the first 20 years of my life. It was no wonder I turned out to be a nervous wreck, I never took a step back and saw how I was living.
When I got to college, I started playing a lot of video games. It was my way to hang out with friends and take a break between classes. I tried to go to the gym here and there, but more often than not, video games were my first choice.
Warning sign number one: I was getting a lot less physical activity and sitting a hell of a lot more.
Also in college, I didn’t have my mother’s home cooking. When provided to choose between cooking my own meal or Taco Bell downstairs, what would any college student do? I’ll have the #4 with extra fire sauce, please.
Warning sign number two: My diet had gone to shit.
Lastly, I never knew what real homework was until my first year of college. I had more to do in one night than two weeks’ worth of high school work. My buddy and I would frequently pull all-nighters, and I never really had a consistent sleep schedule. Energy drinks and caffeine became my new best friends.
Warning sign numbers three and four: My sleep schedule was non-existent, and I never gave myself a chance to relax.
I mentioned I went to the doctor’s a lot. I’d show up with migraines, colds, digestive issues, sore throats, insomnia, you name it. The sad thing? This is what 90% of Americans do. And if you think about it, it’s not a surprise. I’d consider my college habits “average” among the rest of the population. I think many of you would agree.
Simply put, I got tired of feeling like shit. I’m thankful that modern medicine failed me. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today. By taking a step back and evaluating my habits, I was able to transform my health, skyrocket my productivity, and be a happier person.
How I Developed Better Habits
I started becoming the type of person who eats healthier.
I started becoming the type of person who exercises regularly.
I started becoming the type of person who meditates and practices mindfulness.
I started becoming the type of person who sleeps on a regular schedule.
That’s it. I put down the pills and starting looking at the things I could do to start changing my life for the better. My reading at the time led me to what are now referred to as keystone habits – behaviors that, if done regularly, have a cascading effect on all other aspects of your life.
I identified the few key things I had to do each day, and then I started scheduling time for myself. When you take care of your body and mind, it rewards you by taking care of you. I focused on one habit at a time and slowly adopted them all as a part of daily routine.
It didn’t take a day or even a week, but after a couple of months, I started feeling a lot better. My anxiety calmed down and I had a whole new arsenal of weapons to throw at it.
Notice how I phrased those 4 ways up above: “I started becoming the type of person who does X.” Not only did I start eating healthier, but I started seeing myself and believing that I was the type of person who eats healthier. This is key to developing better habits. I believed I was a new person, and so I was.
There is no magic bullet to cure a lifetime of stress and anxiety, it starts with better habits. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can just tell someone who’s suffering. They’ve got to exhaust their options and fumble through it themselves. Only when they’re ready to help themselves can the rest of us even begin to help them.
If there’s anyone out there who knows a better way, I would love to chat with them. This is something that people need to know about and an epidemic that needs to be solved.
This article is for the millennials out there. If you’re fighting the good fight and struggling to find your place in the world, don’t lose faith. Keep on going. You’ll get there. Sometimes you have to march through hell to find the white pearly gates of heaven.
Scribd is a ticket to endless knowledge and entertainment. This unlimited subscription service has been described as the "Netflix for books" because it gives access to millions of audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, comics, and sheet music selections. You can try Scribd free with a 30-day trial. Click here to learn more about Scribd.
Follow us on Instagram
20 thoughts on “How I Transformed My Life Through Better Habits”
Thank u so much for this worthy words. As if u read the thoughts that running through my head. I’m dying to change my bad habits..and hopefully I will .
Thank you for the kind words Nora. I’m here to help if needed!
Great read and what you went through really resonated with me as I too have been dealing with this over past year. Life seemed to be fine until a bad break up and change in career later it seems whole world was out to get me. I was bombarded with negative thoughts day and night to the point that I struggled to even leave my room. It was only recently that I forced myself to deal with this problem through similar techniques which you stated such as meditation, exercising and reading articles and research on mental problems and anxiety. I would also add writing out your thoughts on paper to list of techniques as that to really helped me as I was able to jot down exactly what I was thinking and then reading these thoughts later which allowed me to really change my perspective on how I saw everything so negatively. Also allowing yourself to fully feel pain and emotion of anxiety without judging this emotion allows relief too as you do not force your brain to constantly try and block off this emotion which causes further stress.
I am glad on your progress with dealing with your anxiety and wish you the best. Keep up the good fight my friend :)
Thank you and same to you. Honestly the best thing I did to manage my anxiety was to start eating better. More and more research coming out about links to gut health and mental health. Super interesting stuff.
It sounds like you’re getting a good handle on things though. Important thing is being proactive and not constantly playing the victim. You can beat it. Glad to have connected.
Well, I suffered the same years ago but that was in the high school. I used to think a lot and look always ahead of everything by deeply analyzing. The best way to get rid of anxity is to use all your times and to not leave any space in your mind free of thinking. Practicing sports and yoga are is also good.
For sure Teeba. Thanks for the comment!
I have been on a personal growth journey for more than 17 years and there is no quick fix or magic pill. It is a journey which takes commitment and action. Great article, thank you!
Excuse my language, but hell yes Rosemarie. Thank you!
As you can tell I’m reading this late at night in the dark at 4:25am. I am a wreck but somehow while reading this article I could not help but to compare it to my lifestyle because it is vaguely similar. I want to thank you for sharing this. This opened my mind into new things to try and I will never forget this “when you take care of your body and mind, it rewards you by taking care of you”. I never thought of it that way. I hope you keep succeeding in whatever it is you’re doing. It seems like you’re on the right path my friend. Thanks for the moral support!
Thanks for the kind words Michelle. It’s easy to always play the victim, especially in the frame of mind us anxious people are all to familiar with. By being proactive and changing your habits, good stuff starts happening. Best wishes.
I’m about to go to college and I also do feel the pressure to succeed. There’s no telling what will happen there, but as you suggest, I’ll try sticking to a couple of good habits.
Thanks for sharing your story!
My pleasure Nelu. Thanks for the kind words!
Thank you, Jason, for this article. I feel like I can relate to what you are talking about. I am a type of person who is hungry for success and truly want to make me a difference in the world. But I adopted to one misconception which is that if you want to be successful, you can’t do anything but work work work. This got me to the point where I am about to crash but the good thing is that I caught myself. If there is anyone out there who thinks they must breathe, sleep and eat thinking about their success, there is nothing wrong with that. You have a big passion and that is great. But we need to turn off and relax for a minute, otherwise, we’ll go insane. Speaking from my own experience, we need to find something fun, something what we truly enjoy to do so when we go back to serious stuff, our mind is relaxed and ready to start over.
You nailed it Silvia. Thanks for reading!
I believe there’s so much stress and anxiety in our world because we are striving to be perfect. We live in a society that values and encourages perfectionism in just about everything. Air brushed models and celebrities are idolized for their perfect bodies, smile and hair. The media shows us what the picture perfect holiday and holiday meal should look like.
And even though we know perfection was, is and always will be unattainable, we still spend our precious time and energy trying to achieve it.
I was striving for perfection in my life simply because I was afraid to show the world who I really was. What if I didn’t measure up? When I stopped trying to be perfect and just started being me, my whole life changed for the better.
Awesome stuff Mary. Glad you’re on the right path. Thanks for the comment!
As a strong believer of “what we do is who we are,” you just validated my point! Our health is solely dependent on what we choose to put in and on our bodies and that includes our thoughts.
I like how you pointed out that you not only changed the physical habit, but you changed your perception of yourself as well. I think that is the most important point in your transformation. Seeing yourself differently ultimately gave you the modality to change.
I am also thankful that medicine did fail you! That is exactly what we jump to first and it’s probably the worst thing we can do to ourselves.
Thanks for your honesty.
Appreciate you taking the time to comment, Abby. I’m thankful for so many things related to this piece, mostly for being able to step back and be honest with myself. Glad you enjoyed the read!
Very encouraging and educating, thanks for sharing. A lot of people have really been misleading by their habits, this post will be an agent of change.
Thank you Kufre. Really appreciate the kind words.