Maybe it’s something about officially being in my 30s, but so far this year I’ve been semi-obsessed with how to form sustainable, long-term habits to help me maintain a healthy body and mind.
Naturally, I turned to habits-sage Gretchen Rubin for help. Between her podcast, appropriately called Happier, and her books, The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, I’ve gotten plenty of ideas and inspiration for my habits, but what I didn’t really consider beforehand is the link between happiness and habits.
I don’t think I had really connected these two together in my mind before then. But…
For most of us, our habits contribute significantly to our happiness.
Today I wanted to share some of the happiness hacks I’ve picked up from Gretchen Rubin’s work, so that I can remember and continue to implement them—and in case you want to do the same!
8 Impactful Happiness Hacks from Gretchen Rubin
1. Learn Your Habits Personality
At the core of Gretchen’s four tendencies in regards to habit forming is who you feel accountable to—yourself, others, others and yourself, or neither. (Learning that my husband is a “rebel” who doesn’t feel overly accountable to anyone? Not surprisingly but surprisingly helpful as a revelation.) 🙂 She goes into detail on the four types in Better Than Before.
2. Institute Power Hour
Do you procrastinate certain kinds of tasks? Phone calls, bill payments, signing your kids up for a class or a sport? (I am the queen!) Use one hour to knock out all the things you’ve been procrastinating in one fell swoop, and see how good you feel afterward.
Just the name “power hour” makes me feel all awesome about the pile of mundane things I’m accomplishing!
3. Try the 1-Minute Rule
Anything you can do in one minute, DO. It’s easier to carry that basket of laundry upstairs when you’re going that way than to walk by it (guiltily) fives times. 🙂
4. Know that “Outer Order Contributes to Inner Calm”
I’ve long been a believer, but hearing her personal and research-based experiences with this principle brought it home for me. Outer order –> inner calm.
5. Be Aware of Habit-Forming Loopholes
“This doesn’t count because it’s the weekend.”
“You only live once!”
“I’ve been so good this week, I deserve it…”
All of Gretchen’s loopholes are spot-on, and it’s so useful to note which ones you tend to use the most often as excuses to break your good habits.
6. Only Use Rewards that Propel You Further into the Habit
Have you ever rewarded yourself for a solid week of healthy eating by consuming half a cheesecake in one sitting? Yeah, that doesn’t make sense. Choose rewards that reinforce your habit, like buying a new yoga outfit after a dozen yoga classes.
7. Schedule When You’re Going to Worry
If you’ve got something on the calendar that turns your stomach into knots, why worry about it for a long stretch of time? If you know you can’t avoid the worry altogether, Gretchen suggests telling yourself it’s out of your mind until a certain date: “I won’t waste a minute worrying about this until the first of the month.”
8. Watch For and Accept Your Transition Rituals
We give our children plenty warning when it’s time to switch from one activity to another. (“Five more minutes!”) But often we expect ourselves to transition flawlessly. There’s nothing wrong with needing a transition ritual to help you shift gears. (For me, a half an hour to myself the moment the kids are in bed is essential. Now I just have a term for it!)
As Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying…
“Happiness is not the goal… It’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
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