I have found that most people have a general idea of what kind of habits they need to adopt or drop in order to feel better and be healthier. What perplexes me is why we do not do the things we know we should – especially when it comes to our own well-being. I have heard lots of excuses over the years, but I think they are, for the most part, just rationalizations. I believe our behavior is driven by largely unconscious belief systems.
Most people say that healthy habits are important to them and they really want to adopt them, but they just can’t find the time. Well this is possible, but people certainly find the time to do many other important things. Some people attribute their lack of healthy habits to laziness. I’m not buying that excuse either. Maybe this is true for some, but most people I meet today are ridiculously busy. They could hardly be classified as lazy.
Maybe people are reluctant to change because they don’t want to give up the things they really enjoy. I am the first to agree that we should not have to give up the things that make us happy. But what is truly making us happy? Some of our habits are making us happy momentarily, but making us very unhappy in the long run. So maybe part of the problem is our need for instant gratification.
I believe that there is an underlying belief system behind all of these excuses. Our behaviors are just outward expressions of our inward beliefs. Unhealthy habits belie a belief that the healthy habits are not important, or, a more insidious, (and more prevalent) belief that we ourselves are not important. If you look at your daily schedule, it will tell you where you unconsciously place your priorities and values. Feeling worthy of health and happiness requires a moment-to-moment decision to honor yourself and a constant dialogue with yourself that supports this decision.
Once you have tackled your self worth issues, now you must overcome human inertia, or your resistance to change. This is done by changing your attitude. Take a look at events in your life that you actually look forward to. A very wise teacher has said that we need to approach life the way we approach a vacation. You don’t take a vacation for the end result – which is arriving back home. You plan it for the experience, the journey. And you plan it to have fun.
When we embark on a journey such as changing a habit in order to achieve better health, we tend to be goal oriented. And we tend to see the steps leading to the goal in negative terms. I believe we need to find a way to appreciate and enjoy the journey. This requires adopting an attitude that lifestyle change is something exciting and can be fun. Use your imagination to visualize a pleasant path to your health improvements. While planning the steps, think about what you enjoy doing, what makes life worthwhile, what really floats your boat. How can you incorporate these things into your plan?
Life is really just a series of now moments, so we need to find a way to enjoy each moment regardless of where we believe we are heading. A large part of the ability to do that rests in being able to accept yourself and your life situation as they are right now. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there, just accept that’s where you are now. Resistance doesn’t lead to positive change, it leads to being stuck!