I don’t have any bad habits. They might be bad habits for other people, but they’re all right for me.”
— Eubie Blake
Everyone has dreams about a better life but only a few are willing to do what is required to get there. Your current life situation is the result of all of your previous decisions and actions.
But here comes the thing:
How many of these decisions have you made consciously? Are you aware of your daily actions? Are you living your dream or just dreaming your life?
Life enhancing success strategies and powerful beliefs are the proclaimed ingredients for having that golden future of yours. I have no doubt that you have tried some (or even all) of them already.
But there is something they all have in common in order to work:
You need to do them on a regular and ideally daily basis. That is where your problems start.
Your old habits rule your life
Right after your initial excitement subsides, it is your habits that keep you going. Unfortunately, these are your old habits and not the new ones. You simply cannot get rid of them by simply replacing them with new ones.
They always get you the moment when you least expect it without even realizing what is happening. Time to start all over again.
Frustrating self-improvement frenzy
Your expectations of yourself are so high that you have become what I call a self-improvement junkie.
Happiness is your performance indicator. But as soon as you fail to keep up with those high expectations of yours, you feel unhappy and these supposedly uplifting activities throw you easily out of balance.
On top of that, you start blaming yourself for not mastering your life in a more peaceful and inspired way.
You kind of attract negativity into your life despite your efforts to do the opposite. The reason is that you cannot simply start thinking positive and expect the world to change.
Rather than running away from your old habits, you need to face them.
Whatever you resist persists. The more you try to escape your old self, the bigger will be the caused imbalance that will blow you off your feet once again.
It is like putting weight on only one side of a scale, without expecting the other side to come up. This is exactly what happens in your life if you keep focusing only on the “positive” aspects.
You are energetically affected by your actions. We assume subconsciously that “bad things” drain you and that “good things” lift you up. However, I often find myself drained from trying to be on the “bright side of life” all the time.
Therefore, it is time for more “bad” habits and their surprising benefits.
But eventually, not all of them are that bad if you look at them differently.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
— Wayne Dyer
This is one of my favorite quotes. In this post, I am going to show you how your bad habits can make you thrive just by changing the way you look at them.
“My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season.”
— Mary Todd Lincoln
We are often told that we should not procrastinate. Today is all you have cause tomorrow, ultimately, never arrives.
I say you should do more of it. Procrastinating and finding excuses for not doing something make up the ultimate dream team for wasting time.
If you are like me, you have built a huge repertoire of excuses that sound very plausible and convincing. It always makes so much sense not to do something.
So you should not just waste those valuable skills. Stop fighting it.
Procrastination normally keeps us from doing what is good for us. However, it works just as fine to keep us from doing what is bad for us.
Rather than buying your expensive coffee to go today, buy it tomorrow. Rather than eating that delicious piece of cake now, eat it tomorrow. Rather than watching time-consuming series today, watch them tomorrow.
Now here comes the trick:
The next day you do exactly the same.
If you think that this means that you are actually lying (!) then you are absolutely right. The good news is that lying is also on this very list (#11), so relax and stay with me.
By the end of the week, you may realize that you barely can stuff all the postponed activities into your schedule or the uneaten cakes into your mouth.
If you still decide to do (eat) all these things you will hopefully get annoyed (disgusted) by doing this. Imagine watching seven hours TV straight (you have to remain seated and watch all of it) or eat 7 pieces cream pie ( with at least 1000 calories each).
You suddenly realize that it is not that delicious after all. So keep munching sweetie :-)
Or, you postpone it just one more time (I won’t tell anybody).
Eventually, you might end up realizing that procrastination is the mean stepsister of another virtue: Patience.
→ Procrastination leads to patience.
2. Laziness — Boredom in action
“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”
— Jules Renard
What really fascinates me about laziness is its purity and asymptotic nature. No matter how hard you try to reach the ideal of laziness (which is paradoxical itself), you can never fully reach it.
Laying in bed and lifting your arm to reach the remote is pretty ambitious if you ask me. And what about staring at the TV while constantly processing information or drifting off having unnecessary thoughts?
Against all odds, there is something you can do:
As an aspiring master of idleness, you need to push forward into the realms of BM.
If you take this seriously then this is going to be your new mantra. Forget about the universal OM (ॐ).
BM stands for basal metabolism, which is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:
The turnover of energy in a fasting and resting organism using energy solely to maintain vital cellular activity, respiration, and circulation as measured by the basal metabolic rate.
You are doing f*ck all!
Simply sit or lay down comfortably and close your eyes (opened eyes cause too high beta brain wave activity).
Now, all you are doing is being. Simply being you is actually what all the spiritual folks are trying to accomplish.
But surprisingly, it awaits you at the opposite end of “virtues and noble activities” which is utter laziness.
→ Laziness leads to being present.
3. Getting up late
“Your future depends on your dreams. So go to sleep.”
— Mesut Barazany
Sleep as long as you want and get your well-deserved rest. It is recommended to sleep at least 7 hours a day as an adult, more is better and needed at a younger age. Make sleep your priority and try to get enough sleep every day.
Don’t just get up late at the weekend, do it daily.
Rather than rushing into your day just stay where you are and make those life altering decisions you otherwise wouldn’t have time to ponder about.
While you are half asleep your subconscious mind starts daydreaming. This is the perfect time for reflecting on your life, setting goals, and getting insights from your subconscious mind.
So don’t feel guilty when you hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.
→ Getting up late leads to inspiration.
4. Breaking your (morning) routine
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
— Anthony Robbins
Even the most efficient morning routine can turn stale and leave you empty minded if you do the same things over and over again.
Do whatever excites you and go for it. Drive to work on a different route, by using public transport or riding the bike instead of going by car.
Surprise your partner with a well-prepared breakfast or be the at 6 am in the office to get some work done before anyone else shows up. Or be there last and enjoy people gazing at you in an attempt to make you feel guilty.
Make it a habit to change your routines or don’t care of any routines altogether. Just do what you always wanted to do and make each day an exciting challenge to do at least one thing differently than the day before.
Live less from your mind and more from your heart. Make life an unforgettable experience, each and every day.
Life is change. By embracing change you embrace life.
→ Breaking your routine leads to new results.
5. Staying near your comfort zone
“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”
— Les Brown
The problem with self-improvement is that you need to get constantly out of your comfort zone.
So why don’t we just get started without really moving out of it?
Engaging in willpower draining activities is something that prevents you from staying committed in the long run. You simply cannot live up to your high expectations which eventually causes a lot of frustration.
Therefore, simply stay near your comfort zone by doing some of the mini habits suggested by Steven Guise:
- Do 1 push-up or 1 pull-up a day
- Write 50 words
- Walk 100 steps
- Read 2 pages
- Be grateful about 3 things
- Compliment 1 person
- Meditate for 1 minute
Set ridiculously small goals that you can easily outperform on a daily basis. The good news is that you can’t do less than that without going back to #2 on the list. But maybe, just maybe you end up doing a little bit more once you get started…
On top of that, you start building a chain of repeated actions. The longer you stay committed the harder it will get for you to break the chain.
Imagine having done 1 push-up for one week, one month, or even one year every single day. You are not going to give up on that easily.
→ Staying near your comfort zone leads to unlimited willpower.
6. Comparing yourself to other people
“When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.”
Comparing yourself to others is a major cause of unhappiness. There is always someone who is going to have more than you which makes you feel less worthy. Or there might be someone who has less than you which might you feel overly self-confident and actually less gritty.
But here comes the thing:
What would happen if we actually look for things we have in common rather than focusing on the differences?
Compare comes from the Latin word compar: com (with) + pare (equal). Comparing literally means to look for things you have in common with others.
By seeing and understanding their needs, desires, and problems you start to identify with the people around you and feel a deeper connection with them. And everything that sets you apart is simply an expression of their individuality and uniqueness.
This leads to true compassion and genuine human interaction which in turn can tell you a lot about yourself. You may actually end up helping people in overcoming the same problems that you have faced.
→ Comparing yourself to other people leads to compassion.
“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energy on answers, not excuses.”
— William Arthur Ward
Complaining is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to feel the effects. After your well-deserved but very exhausting tirade against anyone and anything, you may realize that nothing has actually changed in their or in your life. So make this an unforgettable experience for you to improve on.
If you are complaining properly then you can list all the things that are going astray. You can pinpoint down exactly what would have to change in order to get the most out of this situation.
This realization and your still present anger may actually serve you as a catalyst to find a solution that will meet your own desires and maybe even that of other people.
Anger can be a very powerful energy that if channeled properly can achieve remarkable things.
For example, I get very angry at myself when my apartment looks like a mess and I simply cannot keep reasonably clean on a consistent level. The solution is to finally tidy up and declutter my home. This is what happens during the moment of triumph:
With a mischievous grin on my face, I will then throw the garbage bag into the bin. Right before slamming the lid I will burst into evil laughter that sounds something like this.
Imagine this anger being an inner driving force. It will help you to overcome your problems and motivate you to implement appropriate solutions by taking action.
→ Complaining leads to taking action.
8. Negative Thinking
“Distrust both success and failure as impostors. They are both deceptive.”
— Greg McKeown
Think negative about how you perceive the world. Nothing is as good or bad as it seems.
Think negative about the advice you get from your friends and family unless they really know what they are talking about. Remember that you have to live with the consequences, whatever they suggest. Instead, learn from those who have already achieved what you want and do what they suggest.
Think negative about everything that is no longer serving you like memories, people, places, and possessions. Then get rid of them.
Think negative about positive thinking because it makes you blind towards unresolved issues that otherwise will haunt you forever.
Think negative about negative thinking. Be skeptical about any thoughts you didn’t ask for.
Think negative about identifying with your thoughts and emotions and start observing them.
Think negative about thinking too much which leads to paralysis through analysis. Lose your mind, come to your senses, stop talking, begin doing, and start living.
Think negative about your old beliefs that are no longer serving you and realize that you can’t change your life without changing yourself.
Think negative about not taking risks. Take risks instead. Commit and act as if it were impossible to fail.
Think negative about lists that suggest you should think negative. It is about time to move on. Can’t believe you are still reading…
→ Negative thinking leads to awareness.
9. Letting your fear guide you
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
— Marianne Williamson
When people are asked if they regret anything in their life, they often say that they are happy with what they have done.
But are they also happy with the things they haven’t done?
In hindsight they might say that it was reasonable to stick to their jobs, staying on the safe side of life, and to always eat the humble pie.
Who are you to live to your greatest potential and in doing so, inspire others to do the same? Who are you to liberate yourself from limiting beliefs and awaken to who you meant to be?
Who are you not to do so?
The scariest thing in life is to find out who you could have become if you had only tried.
What would have happened if you had taken more risks? How much more exciting could your life have been if you had chosen to make less reasonable decisions and trusted your intuition more? How many good opportunities have passed already that you left unexploited?
What if there was more in for you? What if there still is? And what would be so bad about giving it another try?
It is scary to move towards the unknown especially when you don’t feel that you deserve it.
But consider this:
The universe always gives what you have asked for.
You know what’s really scary?
People don’t even ask! They give up before getting started. They don’t even know what to ask for because they never consider other possibilities.
If you have to live a life in fear, then at least choose the fear that empowers you to move forward in life.
When the wind of change blows into your life you can decide to either build walls or to set sails. Fear will prevail in both situations, but only one has the potential to set you free.
Choose wisely and move ahead with confidence.
→ Being guided by fear leads to greatness.
10. Giving in to your cravings
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
— William James
According to Dale Carnegie, every human being has about 8 core desires that you should know about.
The biggest but mostly unmet craving is the desire to be important.
With your other core desires being met, this one drives the majority of your actions and decisions, often without you being aware of it. Denial of this truth automatically leads to a lot of frustration in your life.
All you ever wanted is to be accepted and loved. Only by accepting and giving in to your craving you can find inner balance and peace.
Not doing this leads to uninspired and unconscious behavior such as the need to be always right or funny, to fit in and please others, to boast or to lack in self-confidence, working hard for status, being unable to receive from others, acquiring more money or claiming that you don’t need it and so on.
The problem is that you depend on other people’s approval, which we all know, is hard to get.
“Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, but that I heard never.”
— Dale Carnegie
Love yourself 100%. If you cannot do that straight away, or start to become too arrogant or self-confident, try something else:
Bring appreciation into your life by giving it to others first.
Some of the benefits are:
- Giving to others is as rewarding as receiving
- You get independent from other people’s appreciation
- Knowing that others have the same needs, makes it easier to accept your own
- The moment people realize that you give them what they crave for, they will want to be around you and give you what you need as well
- You take your desires seriously and claim your birthright to meet all of them, once and for all
- You feel important because you become important to others
Now give in and satisfy your own and other people’s needs.
→ Giving in to your cravings leads to inner peace.
“The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Whatever your reason for lying is, you probably are not very proud of it. Lying is considered to be bad, very bad, and yet, everybody has done it.
In a way, you also lie to yourself even you don’t want to. Your subconscious mind cannot distinguish between real and imaginary events. Therefore, a single thought, whether justified or not, is sufficient to cause all kinds of body reactions and emotions, that in turn, continue to fuel the original thought.
By convincing your mind (positive thinking) and body (feeling uplifting emotions such as gratitude) that your dream life has come true, it actually has become true.
Although you are kind of lying to yourself, anything you do is perceived by your body and subconscious mind as the undisputed truth.
So why don’t you create a truth to your liking that lifts you up? Living in a constant state of empowering thoughts and emotions, over time, changes your personality. And a new personality, eventually, creates a new personal reality.
Key to success is daily conscious awareness about your state of being.
This will physically change your brain and body and activate different genes and neurons as well as affect the physical reality around you:
- Neuroplasticity: Your brain cells will rewire in new ways that will enhance your brain activity. Whatever you focus on grows, so do your neurons that are fired and wired differently. You start to automatically think and feel better.
- Epigenetics: By changing the environment (of the cell), different genes will be activated which impact your body. The 50 trillion cells in your body are directly affected by your thoughts, emotions, actions and physical environment. The moment you choose to perceive your environment differently, you change your state of being which physically affects your body.
- Quantum Physics: Your state of being is physically affecting the reality around you. Out of an infinite potential of possibilities, the reality that matches the signal will manifest. This reality will match the coherent signal you have sent out before.
I don’t want to encourage you to lie to anyone. And you should not feel that you are doing so either.
Simply see it as selecting the truth that works for you. Direct your focus towards the reality you want and experience it in gratitude. Because living in gratitude means it has already happened.
So keep lying as if your life depends on it. Despite the odds, make every day the most awesome experience in your life. Fake it until you make it.
→ Lying leads to conscious creation.
This post is an attempt to break through common black and white thinking. Do not limit yourself by clinging to false labels and beliefs.
Recognize that everything in life has a positive and negative aspect. The moment you accept both sides as being equally important you transform polarity into wholeness.
Accept every aspect of yourself and you will awaken to who you meant to be.
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