There is a method used in the Nutrition field that has been used to effectively change diets of people all over the world. The method is extremely simple, yet proves to be effective time and time again. That method is this: focus on adding good foods to your diet rather than focusing on eliminating the bad. There comes a point that the body starts to crave the good foods and loses interest in the bad. The result is that the body no longer wants fast food and soda, but it craves fresh vegetables and other sources of nutrients. A person’s diet is completely changed from the very core and, using this method of change, the changes usually last.
I was recently thinking about this method and realized, from my own personal experience and through working with others, that this method can be used to improve other areas of life as well.
Focusing on the negative aspects of your life will only magnify them. Instead, may I suggest that you start adding more good things and focusing on those. The negative will eventually atrophy as less energy is directed towards it.
However, it’s important not to overwhelm yourself by trying to add a handful of good things at once. If you try to do too much, then it will be easy to get discouraged and revert back to the negative habits you are trying to eliminate. To avoid this, simply add one good thing a time. Spend some time focusing on that one good habit you want to add to your life. I would suggest working on each habit up to even a month before considering something new. This might feel like a lot of time, but progress will be more solid and likely to stick if you take your time, and anyways, that’s 12 new good habits a year. Can you imagine how different your life would be if you had 12 new habits, that were designed to optimize your life, each and every year?
To help get the ideas flowing, here is a list of some good habits you could add to your life:
- Create a daily habit of reading — This is a huge one. Reading expands your mind, knowledge, and takes discipline. Commit to read a little bit every single day; even if it is only for five minutes. Reading is the first thing I do each morning and I have found that it sets myself up to take on the day and to be ready to think and learn instead of react.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”– Oscar Wilde
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”– Dr. Seuss
- Meditate — I have found meditation to be a huge tool in helping me overcome bad habits and begin to create the life I want. Meditation clears the mind and allows you to have more control over your thoughts and emotions as you go throughout the day. There are many guides to meditation online that you can look for, but the basics are essentially sitting with good posture and focusing completely on your breath. I promise you that you will have an avalanche of thoughts as soon as you begin, but the trick is to acknowledge having each thought and then refocus on your breath. Try not to attach any emotional feelings with the thoughts that arise; simply acknowledge having had a thought and then refocus.
“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.” – Jean Arp
- Exercise — Exercise is an obvious example of a new habit that you could add to your life. It helps overall health and energy levels, and can increase confidence and productivity in other areas of life as well. You do not even need to go do some crazy intense workout everyday. Just do something. There are lots of good at-home workouts that you can find online that you can do at home. Even push-ups and jumping jacks every morning will help you get moving in the right direction.
“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” – Wilhelm Von Humboldtb
- Learn a new skill — Pick something you have always wanted to. Maybe it’s to learn a new language. Maybe it’s to learn how to cook. Maybe it’s to learn woodworking. Whatever it is, this is chance to start down the path to mastering a new skill. Commit to doing one thing to learn more about that skill everyday. This will give you something to work on and help keep you motivated as you see the progress made in developing a new talent.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Ultimately, the more you focus on your good qualities, and adding more good qualities to them, the more effectively you will eliminate the bad. The dark cannot survive in the light. Fill your life with good positive things and the negative will be forced into smaller and smaller corners until it finally has to leave all together. And anyways, who wants to put all their energy into what is wrong and bad when it could go towards all the good inside each and every one of us.