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Last Updated on October 29, 2018

How to Adopt Happy Habits to Change Your Outlook and Your Life

How to Adopt Happy Habits to Change Your Outlook and Your Life

From how you wake up in the morning, to the work you do, to the food you eat, our behaviors are a reflection of our mood and state of mind. How we respond to circumstances and situations creates a ripple effect and then a change or a consequence.

And everyday, we’re making tons of decisions, forming or sticking to habits and trying to cultivate a positive mindset in the process. Our habits make changes in our lives, some good, some not so good.

We live in a world where a lot of negative, scary, questionable, and often times, crazy things happen. We’re constantly consumed by what’s being said on the news, on social media, or on the radio, and it can be difficult not to internalize it all.

Our brains take in so much information at the speed of light and try to process the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Our habits shape us and affect our perspective on the things that happen to us.

It’s important to adopt happy habits that will allow you to be calm in your mind. Each day, especially if you live with depression and anxiety, mental health or self check-ins will be most beneficial for you. During these check-ins, you can do anything that you find enjoyable.

Happy habits are powerful enough to bring you joy, which is everlasting.

To sustain a healthy mindset, you must take time for yourself and nourish your mind daily. Lifestyle practices such as mindful meditation, planting your feet on the ground and focusing on your breathing, or meditative walking produce calmness. Getting enough sunlight fuels the brain, boosts the production of serotonin, and hearing nature sounds intervenes in negative thinking.

Habits are thinking paths that the brain returns to and creating habits can be challenging.

Doing something new can feel terrifying or uncertain and our brains have a way of protecting us, too. But only if you do so will you live your best life: You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

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I watched a TedTalk recently about how our brains keep us from changing. After I watched this talk, I had a better understanding of why I’d been so hesitant to try new things in the past or create new habits or open my own business. I was letting fear steer my ship. I’d had fears of something not working out or encountering an unfamiliar situation.

If you try to create habits that are too big, you’ll put unnecessary stress and expectations on yourself. You, instead, want to start small. The smallest change can make the biggest difference.

Adopting happy habits will strengthen your thoughts and how you respond to life events or transitions. So, here are nine happy habits you can include that will radically shift your mindset and outlook on life.

1. Go on nature walks

Even in the winter time, I will go outside regardless of how cold it is, and spend time walking in nature. I’ve made this habit of doing nature walks, listening to my footsteps, breathing in fresh air, or marveling at wildlife.

Where I live, a lot of deer congregate (and lately, wild turkeys) in the wilderness amid my home. If I am having a stressful or hard day, I will focus on sounds outside. I focus on all of my senses. Calmness eases my thoughts.

Recently, I’ve been going through difficult transitions and found myself relying on this time in the woods. The smell of burning leaves instantly relaxes me. Not sure why, but I’ve loved the burning maple smell since I was a kid.

2. Do a creative activity (that you don’t feel the need to share online)

You don’t have to be creative to do something creative. Try coloring in those adult coloring books if your thoughts are driving you mad. Those Sudoku puzzles or word searches are things I like to do to take my mind off of the stress induced by daily life.

By doing puzzle-like activities, the mind goes quiet. Thoughts will fade and if something is bothering you, some kind of activity can change your perspective.

Doing things that get your creative juices flowing will open your mind to solutions to problems in all areas of your life.

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Don’t think you’re a creative person? You can definitely change that with this.

3. Fifteen minutes of cleaning each day

If you spend only fifteen minutes a day cleaning, picking up your living room, kitchen or bedroom, you’ll immediately set yourself up for a stress-free day.

When I started devoting fifteen minutes each night to cleaning, I’ve been able to make more time for cultivating those happy habits that boost my mental health.

Cleaning can feel like a therapy or a meditation. Keeping your living environment in order will allow for more time to accomplish work tasks or other obligations.

4. Ten minutes of silence

Just ten minutes of silence or solitude can work wonders on your mental and emotional well-being. In those ten minutes, simply sit somewhere comfortable with your eyes closed and do breathing exercises. You could also do a brief self-hypnosis if you’re feeling particularly flustered or stressed.

Make your own routine with this ten minutes of silence. I do my best work when I’ve had this time of quiet. It’s a way to add balance to your day and it’s a small thing you can do that’ll benefit you in the long run.

5. Try this kind of journaling

At the end of every day, (I’ve been talking and writing about this type of journaling for years), keep a daily journal or a log of what you did that day and need to do the next.

If you’re someone who is hard on yourself or puts a lot of pressure on yourself, this type of writing will reshape your thinking about how you’re doing in life. It’s a way of dumping your workload on paper and seeing it for what it is, how simple and straightforward it is.

If you’ve got a truckload to do or there are things you’re forgetting to do, keeping a log will lift the weights off your shoulders and ease the stress and tension on your mind.

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It will restructure your brain and mind by keeping your emotions in tact so you can function at your highest level. It will also help you stay on track at the same time.

And a bonus: You’ll be less forgetful and know what you need to do to reach the finish line of work or other things that need attention.

6. Stretch for fifteen minutes each day or night

For three years straight, and still, I’ve made this happy habit stick: fifteen minutes of stretching.

You don’t have to do yoga or twist yourself into a pretzel. I am talking about easy stretching anybody can do.

The habit of daily stretching will target your body, help you sleep better, and ease the tightness, strain or tension in your muscles.

All of my stress sits on top of my shoulders and in my back, so I’ll spend fifteen minutes doing light or deep stretching to relax and unwind. You’ll feel lighter in your thoughts and mind when your body is feeling good.

The benefits of stretching range from fighting fatigue, insomnia, and eliminating stress. If you want to change your outlook and your life, focusing on how you’re feeling physically is a good place to start.

7. Make small salads daily

Food is happiness and how you eat affects the way you feel. It’s OK to splurge on a cupcake or cookies once and again but studies now show that sugar, gluten and dairy contribute to depression and anxiety. They can overtax your system and result in severe fatigue or a crash of some kind.

I challenged myself to make a habit of preparing small, bowl-size salads (which takes me five minutes to make and does not require Masterchef skills). I select three vegetables and one fruit with spinach or something green.

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Since I’ve been making salads each day, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my overall mood. Clean eating promotes happiness and this is a great habit to include in your regimen.

8. Volunteer or give your time to a cause

I’ve made a commitment to volunteer at my local art museum as often as my schedule allows. And let me tell you, my schedule is constantly slammed and jammed. But when I volunteer, I feel calmer and happier being away from the tedious artistic design work I do.

While I love my job, volunteering and giving to others has been extremely uplifting, fulfilling and enriching. You’ll find yourself feeling calmer, less rushed, and with more opportunities to enjoy others and life.

9. Take an enrichment class

If you can, get involved in the community and do an enrichment class such as cooking, sewing, yoga, a book club, or arts and crafts.

A lot of communities even have programs for people in their work field that are fun. For example, if you’re an I.T. guy or are not creative at all, you can take an enrichment class that introduces you to more avenues in your field or skills to expand on.

Try something outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s once a month. There are people I know who work forty hours a week that still find the time to go to an enrichment program. Someone I know takes time out of their lunch hour to play basketball and exercise so they can return to their work with fresh eyes.

Doing things like that as well will break up your day and make you look forward to getting back to work.

The bottom line

When creating new habits, make sure to ask yourself how they will affect your health or outlook on life in the long-term. If there are habits you’re trying to let go of that sabotage your happiness, replace them with small habits.

The idea is to not put pressure on yourself, and instead, to explore and grow.

The change shouldn’t terrify you; it should spark inspiration and put you on a more fulfilling and purposeful path.

Featured photo credit: Patrick Carr via unsplash.com

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Tessa Koller

Author and Motivational Public Speaker

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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