People often think of habits in a negative way. Ask someone to name a few of their habits, and they will probably report what they believe to be ‘bad’ habits such as smoking or eating too much. In fact, almost everything we do – the good, the bad and the ugly – is driven by habits.
Some habits are very positive and developing them will greatly benefit you. In fact, cultivating these habits will almost certainly have the effect of causing some of the more negative ones to drop away.
Here are some of the most constructive and beneficial habits you can try to develop.
1. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
The importance of empathy cannot be overstated. It is so easy to think we are right, and yet our own mental habits or beliefs are, just like everyone elses, provisional and do not correspond to reality. The map is not the territory. We are not ‘right’ and other people ‘wrong.’ Genuinely trying to see the other person’s perspective can be liberating and mind opening.
2. Embracing change
People sometimes say that we live in a time of unprecedented change. It is true that change is happening quickly and that the world is complex and interconnected. But it is probably true to say that this has always been the case. The future is inherently uncertain, and the ability to adapt to it by being open to new ways of doing things will keep you relevant and engaged.
3. Embracing technology
One of the obvious theatres of change is technology. It’s changing the world and, if we don’t move with it, we will become deskilled and irrelevant. Some people try to resist technology – this seems like a very unwise move to me, like king Cnut trying to hold back the tide – it cannot be done and you will only get into trouble.
4. Taking time for yourself
It’s important to spend a little time each day just for you. Spend a bit of time on your own to o what you want to do. Read, write, meditate, play music, dance, sing – do what makes you feel happy.
5. Exercising (almost) daily
The benefits of just 20 minutes of exercise per day are well documented. Even 10-15 minutes of vigorous exercise per day can be enormously beneficial. It will keep your metabolism high and build muscle tone, both helping you to burn more calories; it will help you sleep better and make you less prone to illness.
6. Eating healthily
No complicated diets or spending hours at the market or in the kitchen are required. Just make some simple changes to the way you do things – eat a piece of fruit at breakfast; buy a salad for lunch or dinner; take some nuts of fruit to work as a snack; have a couple of ‘sugar free’ days per week; stop taking sugar in your tea. Simple, little changes can have a huge impact on your health.
People who meditate regularly experience tangible benefits. Studies have shown that physical and mental health improves as a result of meditation. Nothing difficult is required – no training or special equipment and no religious beliefs. Just sit quietly for 10 minutes and watch your breathing, trying to focus only on the breath and nothing else. That’s it. It is hard to focus only on one thing for any length of time but, with practice, you will get better and reap the benefits.
Reading can be one of the greatest and simplest pleasures. It can open up new worlds. It can truly change your life. With the advent of kindle and iPad, you can carry a whole library around with you. Even without the technology, just slipping a book into your bag for that commute for the ‘dead time’ we inevitably experience is a simple way of building the reading habit.
9. Keeping in touch with friends and family
People with strong social networks are happier, healthier and live longer. It is so easy to stay in touch these days, even if you live a long way from home. A short phone call once a week, just to ‘touch base.’ Technology makes it easy to stay in touch – Facebook, love it or loathe it, is actually a remarkably effective way of keeping in contact.
10. Positive Thinking
And finally, the most important one … developing positive ways of thinking will make an enormous difference to your experience of life. Your mind is where everything starts. The way you think is the key to everything. What you focus on persists and grows.
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By keeping your mind on building these positive habits, the more negative ones will start to drop away. Try it and see.
Photo by Joseph Gray
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14 thoughts on “10 Positive Habits to Cultivate”
Yes, this is what most of us need for healthy living. Recently, I’m promoting a Healthy Living in 30 Days Challenge on my blog and I am include many of these things. Today was Day 4 of the challenge and there is still a lot of room for including many more from your list. Thanks for the super cool inspiration. It’ll help my readers too!
I love to turn negative thought patterns in to positives. Embracing change is an important one. Change is akin to nature. We have ever changing seasons and they are there for a reason.
Good blog. Thank you.
I love this list! They really do resonate with the habits that I am trying to instill in my own life. Thank you for the list Mark!
My favorite is facing fears. Maybe face a fear a day and get into the habit of using your courage muscles. Unconventional, but it helps you progress much faster.
Habits are useful in life because they help us to carry out routines without too much effort. The danger is that we may unconsciously adopt habits that are not good for us. Having said that, I am all for cultivating good habits in our lives. Here are the thoughts that crossed my mind as I read through your article.
1. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
This is my personal favourite. By cultivating this habit, it has helped me to be more patient and understanding with people. It has also done wonders for my personal relationships and interactions in general. I simply cannot imagine living my life without this habit.
2. Embracing change
The only constant in life is change. There is no escaping from it, we are changing all the time and there are always events in the world that bring about change. Just look at the unrest in the MENA region. If we do not learn to embrace change, we will always have to react to events instead of pre-empting them. But it is possible to foresee the outcome of events before it happens. All we need to do is to look out for the signs and blend intuition with logic.
Thank you for sharing this article! :)
Irving the Vizier
very nice one Mark
I am glad i do some of the already,
will try to complete the whole list
thank you :)
Only thought which I’ve right now in my mind is if the blog is so positive and inspiring how you must be in real life??!! You really must be a very well balanced person.Thanks for spreading your wisdom around.
The points which I will try to remember for as long as I can are – 1,2 ,7 and 10 because the rest I belief I already do.
I can say I am following all these pieces of advice that you gave in this post and I am quite satisfied with my life. It works.
Well, hello there, Mark! This became a great “look-back-and-check-if-you-have-it” activity for me last week. So it’s best to say thank you today. Everyone should build their weekly checkers based on this, huh? Or something like it. From your ten ideas, mine just got to 15 and tomorrow, I will be checking out if the habits are well-tended to after five days. Not that I made a major shift in life (LOL!) but I just want to make sure I am always inspired and motivated to do good. So apart from all nine – because I deleted your idea #3 :) and please don’t be mad at me! I have six other ideas on habits that need to be further cultivated. Two is about deeper relationship with nature, another two is about spreading goodness to others. As for the two for myself, it would be the commitment refresh my self-esteem every day, every time and stop feeling guilty if I say no to others.
So Mark, I hope from your ideas and mine, people can be inspired to cultivate MORE and MORE positive habits. :)
agree with all 10 and add one more
11. Getting up early every morning (at least half an hour) to have time to cultivate these habits and enjoy peace, quiet and the beauty of a new day waking up.
Hi.. This article is amazing. I do follow some of the things and it is helpful. Thanx for the amazing article.
such a nice list Mark, that’s really an ideal day if they are all done :)
Thanks for a nice, easy-to-read summary of some great habits to cultivate. A big challenge for me is embracing technology — there’s SO MUCH new technology every day to embrace that it can be a real challenge to see which technology will have staying power, and which will just have its 15 minutes of fame and flame out :-)
Thanks for the article Mark.
One positive habit that I have included in my life is something I call the ‘check-in’. It’s a one to one session with my wife that we have at the end of the evening. It’s out time to express our emotions and be heard without interruption. I have found it to be very beneficial in clearing out any potential build up of relationship stress and strain, which in turn creates two happy little bunnies.