What is it that makes us happy?
In the last several years, there has been a staggering amount of research on happiness. What places, activities, people, things, thoughts? The answer is not to take more vacations or buy your dream car (though those things can certainly be nice). The answer, it turns out, is in your habits.
Let me explain, as this may sound underwhelming.
Our habits make up our day-to-day lives, and we have so many more of them (good and bad) than we realize. According to Science Daily, “Studies show that about 40 percent of people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations.”
On an average day, you might wake up, roll out of bed, and put on your robe while you walk to the kitchen to make coffee (habit). While your coffee brews, you check the news (habit). You eat the same thing you eat every day for breakfast (habit), and it just keeps going from there.
We can be very aware, or very unaware, of our habits.
Nighttime snacking might be a habit you want to break, while you’d like to pick up running 4 times a week. When you take control of your habits, you shape your life. And the great thing about picking up a healthy habit is that it snowballs into more healthy habits (read on to learn about “gateways”).
The first thing you want to do is make it as easy as possible. Step back, think about what you want, why, what you might need to get there, and get it all prepared. It can be easy to gloss over the “why” with something obvious like “lose weight,” but hang around until you feel you’ve hit bottom. The real reason you may want to lose weight is to feel comfortable in your body or be able to chase your grandkids. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind changes a habit from something hard to something easy and in line with your values.
Start with small steps.
You’ll notice (faster than you think) how they add up to something huge. Maybe you decide to walk for a quarter mile each evening. After a while, the fresh air makes you want to stay out a little longer, so you go up to a half-mile, then a mile. Now that you’re outside all the time feeling good from the fresh air, you want to try running, so you jog that mile and feel invigorated. You get home and want to nourish your body, so you reach for fresh, nutritious, and satisfying food. Now you’ve picked up the habit of eating healthier. When you lay your head on your pillow at night, you sleep well thanks to exercise and a good meal. Now that you’re sleeping great and waking up rested, you feel fresh and ready for the new day. Those little things build on one another until you’re feeling balanced, calm, healthy, and full of energy.
It can be tricky to work on healthy habits.
That’s why I like to find what I call “gateways.” Having a dog can be a gateway to being outside and moving more. Choosing not to have a car can be a gateway to walking more and owning fewer things. Gardyn itself is a gateway to a healthy lifestyle. All you have to do is open the box, set it up, and wait for fresh, beautiful food to show up. Having gleaming produce in your line of sight all the time reminds you to eat it more. The beauty of the plants inspires you to cook delicious food packed with nutrients. You wind up sharing more meals around the table. It feels good, and feeling good makes it easy to pick up another healthy habit, which makes it even easier to pick up yet another, and so on. It’s such a simple start and requires so little of you to begin and maintain. So why not? Start small, take that first step, and feel your health grow.