A behavior has become a habit when you notice not doing it. — James Clear
If you go about your day unconsciously, you are more likely to create habits that aren’t good for your mind and soul and creating the life you want.
Toxic behavior may form by default.
But by becoming aware of your day, day in and day out, moment by moment, that is half the battle.
You have a far greater chance of changing a negative behavior when you stop denying that behavior exists.
Instead, become self-aware to create change.
Eating to quell anxiety or boredom is a sign you’re not in the moment and are trying to fill a void with food.
You may want to look closely at your relationship with food, and figure out what it is you are attempting to avoid, or the void you’re trying to fill.
What underlying issue is in need of attention?
If you’re eating junk to soothe anxiety — emotional eating — replace it with a habit that won’t affect your health or your waistline. Take up knitting, playing cards with real cards, writing, reading, gardening, hiking.
To curb habits of mindless overeating, eat at the table and not in front of the TV.
It can be tempting to sit on the couch and binge TV while simultaneously binging on a bag of chips or chocolate, but it isn’t good for your heart and mind and may become your go-to for anxiety if you don’t stop it before it becomes a habit. You aren’t eating to taste the food that nourishes the body; you are consuming calories unconsciously.
Eat food to nurture your body and soul. Eat with mindfulness.
We buy too much stuff we don’t need.
It clutters our lives and fills our landfills. There is so much plastic and junk in the world we are sending our trash into orbit because we can’t handle the volume of garbage here on earth.
We don’t need all the stuff we buy. I would argue it prevents true happiness.
Is it necessary to buy the latest iPhone each time a new model enters the market?
Around the holidays, my family likes to start a Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle and work on it throughout Christmas and New Year’s. We gravitate to the puzzle throughout the day to talk and spend quality time together while listening to music. Instead of buying a 40 dollar puzzle every year we only use once, I started a puzzle swap with my neighbors. That way, less gets consumed, yet we have a new puzzle to work on during the holidays and I’m not adding to my environmental footprint.
You can do this with books also.
3. Spending time with toxic friends
Remove friends from your life who drain your energy.
Sometimes when you spend too much time around toxic people, you don’t realize how much they influence your mood, thoughts, and behaviors.
Hang with people who inspire you, who want the best for you, and aren’t threatened when you strive to live your best life.
Co-dependent and narcissistic friends will deplete you. Listen and be aware of your body and mind after spending time with toxic friends, you feel less than — as if you’ve been through the wringer.
Narcissists and co-dependents are usually unaware of the negative behaviors they are putting out into the world. They rarely work on themselves, and typically don’t know they have any problem at all.
It isn’t your job to fix them, nor can you.
4. Binging TV
You are focused, or you are “consuming.”
The average person consumes 4 hours of TV per day. That is 13 years in front of the TV.
You know you have a problem when you are binging between two and 8 hours of Netflix or TV at a time. Or when you are binging TV and looking at your phone or computer at the same time. You aren’t watching TV or looking at your computer — you are doing neither well.
You are not present. You are unconsciously consuming.
5. Starting political arguments online or engaging in them
Stop fighting with people over politics online.
It is a swamp of monsters not worth wading through, similar to people tied to their religious beliefs, and unable to listen to other people’s thoughts.
They spend most of their time locked in confirmation bias looking for any data, any headline, any bit of news to support what they already believe to be true. According to powernoddle.com confirmation bias is “The tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.”
Instigators and bullies online are not looking to learn about controversial topics, nor are they open to changing their position or modifying their perspectives.
They are not looking for education; they are looking for an opponent to fight.
You won’t change someone’s mind on social media about a candidate. You just won’t.
One reason is Facebook is not the format for a rational discussion is it’s devoid of tone, which causes miscommunication on social media.
Twitter is far worse.
The layperson who is obsessive over a particular candidate and doesn’t know much about policy, will not be swayed. No amount of facts will change their mind. They are coming from their perspective, and they’re built-in internal biases. Most people are not aware of their internal biases.
Think about that the next time someone provokes you on your timeline.
Before you think to correct an inaccurate comment, think about whether you want to give energy to something that won’t make a difference, and will eat up your day.
Spend your time on something more productive — like writing.
6. Over consuming social media
See number five — political fights on line.
Social media is a huge time suck. So many people use social media as an avoidance tool from their real life.
Scrolling mindlessly through ads, political rants, humblebrags, the obligatory first-day-of-school photo, is similar to watching reality TV. You are spending time on other people’s lives, and not your own.
I log on to social to work, yes. To scroll, no.
When I do log onto social, I do so on my terms, meaning, I dictate when I allow social, or other people (email) to eat away at my time.
7. “Friending” ex-boyfriends
Don’t waste energy on ex-boyfriends, especially the one who broke your heart.
An ex contacted me a few years ago, one I care greatly for.
It set me back.
I love my current partner deeply, and having my ex in the picture — even if only in my social media picture — was not good for me. Since I made the decision, I have not once “checked” on him.
If I saw him pop up in my feed, or I allowed myself to be interested and curious by looking him up, it would have taken me longer to feel indifferent about him.
At first, it took willpower, which I have a ton of, but when you don’t see someone for years, even via social media, you don’t think about them.
8. Blaming your relationships on your unhappiness
You are not unhappy because of your relationship. Your partner is not the reason you are unhappy.
Far too often, people blame their partners for their miserable lives and use their partner to distract from what isn’t working for them.
An unconscious relationship is when you go through the motions with your partner, you’re asleep in the relationship, engaging in interactions that are routine and give you little pleasure.
Love isn’t a fairy tale. Intimate relationships take work.
It is when we see our relationships as a vehicle for change and self-realization that we grow into a conscious relationship. That is up to each of you individually.
Becoming an observer of your emotional state will improve overall happiness, and that isn’t your partner’s responsibility.
9. Not getting enough sleep
Sleeping is essential. We underestimate how important sleep is to have a good day with a positive mental state. Uninterrupted sleep decreases anxiety and increases mental health.
A solid 8 to ten hours, depending on the person, can be the difference between an average day and a great day.
I believe sound sleep is the driver of productive habits.
We all have the same 24 hours per day to get things done and spend time on what is essential to us.
Daily, ask yourself, “what am I spending time on?” and “am I aware during that time spent?”
Your habits create your life — what you focus on is what you build and what you attract. Spend time on what matters. Be conscious and aware of what makes your life one worth being present.
Jessica is a writer, an online entrepreneur, and a recovering type-A personality. She lives in Los Angeles with her extrovert daughter, two dogs, and two cats.