Just as tiny drops of water accumulate to make mighty oceans, habits when practiced long-term define the character of a person. Here are some of the important areas of life where good practices are essential.
Health – Health comprises the physical, physiological and psychological well-being of a person. Some tips for good health:
- A balanced diet (Vitamins & Minerals – fruits, green leafy vegetables, carrots, beetroots, tomatoes; Proteins – pulses and lentils, nuts, milk, eggs, fish, lean meat; Carbohydrates & Fats – only according to the recommended allowances; Roughage – fibrous foods; Water – 2 litres per day)
- Regular exercise (or 40 minutes brisk walking)
- Complete health check-up once a year
- Hygiene (Washing hands before meals and after using washrooms, having a bath daily, wearing fresh clothes daily)
- Peaceful sleep (6-7 hours every night)
- Entertaining good and noble thoughts (avoiding unhealthy gossip and depressive environments)
Ambition – To dream sky-high and put in the required effort to achieve those dreams is called ambition. Some habits to be borne in mind while pursuing one’s ambition:
- Work hard consistently (burning the midnight oil for two days and slumbering for the next two days doesn’t yield remarkable results)
- Set realistic goals (set short-term targets to start with)
- Manage your time efficiently (prioritize your tasks and do not procrastinate)
- Associate with people who nurture your ambition
- Avoid the company of people who aim to pull you down
Behaviour – Our thoughts, words and actions cumulatively make up our behavior. Some good behavior practices include:
- Feeding the mind with constructive thoughts
- Helping people in need
- Respecting every individual (this includes elders, women, children, colleagues, subordinates)
- Listening to people who want to unburden their hearts
- Spending time with people who need you
Interests – Our leisure-time activities are predominantly the ones we are interested in. So, we must carefully nurture them. Some do’s and don’ts in pursuing our interests are:
- Pursue interests that build you and others up
- Be mindful of the investments in pursuing your interests (time, money, etc.)
- Your interests should be your stress-busters not stress-creators
- Do not go to unwanted extremes to focus on your interests. Make smart decisions.
Trade – Apart from family, the workplace is where an individual spends most of his / her time. Hence, good habits are a must to ensure that a person prospers in his / her trade.
- Be punctual no matter what happens
- Have a good rapport with superiors, colleagues and subordinates
- Be polite always (harsh words repel people)
- Work diligently
- Wear a smile at all times
Of course, the tips are not exhaustive. Pages can be written for each area. But, humble beginnings lead to great results. And so, let’s be mindful of just a few things to start with!
Talking about habits is sometimes quite easy and sometimes it is very difficult. That’s why I followed my favourite habit of searching on google to find some quotes on HABITS.
And bingo… I found one, a really very good one…
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
— MAHATMA GANDHI
What Mahatma was trying to tell here? He was saying when our HABIT is well backed up by our beliefs, thoughts, words and actions, it will produce values that determines our destiny.
If our beliefs are on TRUTH, then our thoughts will be on TRUTH and so does our words. Then our actions will be controlled by the TRUTH we believe and think. And our habits will be developed gradually out of that actions which will reflect our values and determine the destiny, a destiny based on Truth…
Remember the process:
Beliefs — Thoughts — Words — Actions — HABITS — Values — Destiny
Habits can be good or bad depending on its ultimate effects on our lives. Sometimes our habits affect our behaviour. We become habituated with certain kind of behaviours. A habit of taunting or making fun of others becomes our behaviour when we do that always. Sometimes it is pleasant or unpleasant to others.
Aristotle says, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.”
Sometimes a deliberate action of helping others, maintaining a routine or time become our good habits & practices which ultimately affect our behaviours in a positive way.
Sometimes habits can be shocking when we discover it for the first time in different persons.
Newly wedded couples get amazed seeing each other’s peculiar habits and practices as they start living together. They either laughs at each other when they see those habits or feel alarmed, thinking how to bring the change in their partners. Have you ever thought whether your partner is affected because of your bad habits?
What I really want to say here is that, our habits do have a direct impact on our lifestyle, behaviours, our surroundings and on the people related to us. We discussed that yesterday also…
Practice makes a man perfect… Good habits make everything else perfect…
“Old Habits Die Hard”
In fact I would say, sometimes old habits never die…
I had a peculiar habit of reading novels in my college days. The small text books seem so impossible to finish yet I could finish thick novels within two or three days. That habit died forever when I started working. Lack of time and other commitments prevented me from having the luxury to sit back and enjoy a good novel.
Some other funny habits like, day dreaming for long, sitting on the commode in the toilet were other habits which expired as I grew older in maturity.
But when I started working I developed a habit of reading the newspaper sitting on the commode. Even now I do the same thing at times, but the newspaper has been replaced by my phone.
I don’t know why we get so many new ideas when we are enthroned on the commode. Funny it is, yet a reality.
Procrastination is one of the irritating habits I have. It usually make me keep the most important things till the end to finish and struggle for that.
Some habits are funny and harmless but some habits or practices have negative effects on our life. As we grow in maturity and age, it is our foremost duty or responsibility to see ‘how does my habit affect my personal lifestyle, my surrounding and the people around me…,’ ‘I have to leave the habits that are spoiling my health, my mind, my routine life, my work life, my family…’
It is important to remember that we need to let the old bad habits die soon and groom the good habits till we die.
Man is a slave of habit. If he does anything for a prolonged period of time, he gets habituated with it. Waking up at a certain hour, eating a certain kind of food item at a particular time or wearing a certain type of clothing all are what man is habituated with. Habits are incorporated within us in such a way that it becomes our identity. We can identify individuals by their habits. We all are habituated with something or the other.
As children we were always told to nurture good habits which included our personal hygiene, respecting elders and performance in academics. But as we grow older these become a part of our life and stay till the end.
However, there are some habits which when nurtured transform into values and later act as a shield against the atrocities that come to damage us. These values, in the true sense, need to be practised till the end of life as they are not in-built. Sometimes they may seem uncomfortable as they give us temporary pain and suffering which is the reason they are not practised by most people. But these are the values that take us to purity. The values of honesty, love, dignity, punctuality, perseverance, truthfulness, faithfulness, loyalty, trust, accountability, acknowledgement etc., are the ones that gain perfection but only when practised. Therefore in order to stay righteous and rewarded till the end say ‘yes’ to these values and habits and discard what is contradictory to them.
Get identified for the right values!
— Ruth Samarpita Sarkar
Recently, a friend of mine asked me about my habit of waking at 4:30 a.m. each day, and asked me to write about the health benefits of rising early, which I thought was an excellent question. Unfortunately, there are none that I know of. However, there are tons of other great benefits.
BENEFITS OF RISING EARLY:
Now, let me first say that if you are a night owl, and that works for you, I think that’s great. There’s no reason to change, especially if you’re happy with it. But for me, switching from being a night owl to an early riser (and yes, it is possible) has been a godsend. It has helped me in so many ways that I’d never go back. Here are just a few:
- Greet the day. I love being able to get up, and greet a wonderful new day. I suggest creating a morning ritual that includes saying thanks for your blessings. I’m inspired by the Dalai Lama, who said, “Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can’.”
- Amazing start. I used to start my day by jumping out of bed, late as usual, and rushing through things while being late for everything. Not a great start to your day! Now, I have a renewing morning ritual, I’ve gotten so much done before 8 a.m., and by the time everyone else gets in to work, I’ve already gotten a head start. There is no better way to start off your day than to wake early, in my experience.
- Quietude. No babies crying, no quarreling, no cars, no television noise. The early morning hours are so peaceful, so quiet. It’s my favorite time of day. I truly enjoy that time of peace, that time to myself, when I can think, when I can read, when I can breathe.
- Sunrise. People who wake, late miss one of the greatest feats of nature, repeated in full stereo-vision each and every day the rise of the sun. I love how the day slowly gets brighter, when the midnight blue turns to lighter blue, when the brilliant colors start to seep into the sky, when nature is painted in incredible colors. Sometimes I do an early morning run during this time, and I look up at the sky as I run and say to the world, “What a glorious day!”
- Breakfast. Rise early and you actually have time for breakfast. I’m told it’s one of the most important meals of the day. Without breakfast, your body is running on fumes until you are so hungry at lunchtime that you eat whatever unhealthy thing you can find. But eat breakfast, and you are sated until later. Plus, eating breakfast while reading my book and drinking my coffee in the quiet of the morning is eminently more enjoyable than shoving something down on the way to work.
- Exercise. There are other times to exercise besides the early morning, of course, but I’ve found that while exercising right after work is also very enjoyable, it’s also liable to be cancelled because of other things that come up. Morning exercise is virtually never cancelled.
- Productivity. Mornings, for me at least, are the most productive time of day. I like to do some hardcore studying in the morning, when there are no distractions, before I check my email or website stats. I get so much more done by starting on my work in the morning. Then, when evening rolls around, I have no work that I need to do, and I can spend it with family.
- Goal time. Got goals? Well, you should. And there’s no better time to review them and plan for them and do your goal tasks than first thing. You should have one goal that you want to accomplish this week. And every morning, you should decide what one thing you can do today to move yourself further towards that goal. And then, if possible, do that first thing in the morning.
- Appointments. It’s much easier to make those early appointments on time if you get up early. Showing up late for those appointments is a bad signal to the person you’re meeting. Showing up early will impress them. Plus, you get time to prepare.
HOW TO BECOME AN EARLY RISER
- Don’t make drastic changes. Start slowly, by waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to this for a few days. Then cut back another 15 minutes. Do this gradually until you get to your goal time.
- Allow yourself to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, perhaps watching TV or surfing the Internet. But if you continue this habit, while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give in. And if it is the early rising that gives in, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start over. I suggest going to bed early, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep, and read while in bed, or practice relaxation techniques like deep-breathing etc. for falling asleep. This way you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
- Put your alarm clock far from you bed. If it’s right next to your bed, you’ll shut it off or hit snooze. Never hit snooze. If it’s far from your bed, you have to get up out of bed to shut it off. By then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
- Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed. Just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to go straight to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. By the time I’ve done that, brought it to my study, sat at my desk and started drinking it, I’m awake enough to face the day.
- Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
- Have a good reason. Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This reason will motivate you to get up. I like to study in the morning, so that’s my reason. Also, when I’m done with that, I like to read all of your comments on my website!
- Make waking up early a reward. Yes, it might seem at first that you’re forcing yourself to do something hard, but if you make it pleasurable, soon you will look forward to waking up early. A good reward is to read a book that you want to read, after working for about 2-3 hours in the morning. I read spiritual books at this time, which fill my mind with peace and prepare me for the rest of the day. Other rewards might be a tasty treat for breakfast (smoothies! yum!) or watching the sunrise, or meditating. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.
- Take advantage of all that extra time. Don’t wake up an hour or two early just to read your blogs, unless that’s a major goal of yours. Don’t wake up early and waste that extra time. Get a jump start on your day! I like to use that time to get a head start on studying, working on any pending stuff, on planning for the rest of the day (when I set my daily goals), on exercising or meditating, and on reading. By the time 6:30 rolls around, I’ve done more than many people do the entire day!
Author’s Bio: Sulagna Dasgupta has been writing about self-improvement and relationships for more than 5 years. Her website “www.loveinindia.co.in” is India’s first dedicated relationships & marriage blog, also offering FREE unlimited anonymous relationship counselling. Her mission is to facilitate more open thinking about love & relationships in India in the long run.