When something is a habit, you don’t have to think about it; it just happens. You don’t talk yourself out of brushing your teeth in the morning, and you don’t forget to have your morning cup of coffee. What if you could make any desired behavior that automatic and that thoughtless?
The most successful, healthiest, and happiest people — including CEOs, social entrepreneurs, and values-based business leaders — aren’t born different from you. They just have better habits. They’re doing more of the right things automatically and unconsciously. Luckily, you can learn to do them that way, too.
These seven fundamental habits will help you create a life where you are healthy in body, mind, and spirit; where you have deep relationships with family and friends; where you experience less stress and more peacefulness; and where you make a strong, positive impact in your home, in your work, in your community, and in the world.
Your body is the foundation from which you engage with the world, so it needs to be cared for. From energy to heart health and other circulatory benefits to cancer prevention to increased focus and other positive emotional benefits and more, exercise is like a magic performance enhancing pill. If you don’t already have a regular physical activity habit, start here. From there, you can add other habits that take care of your physical health, like eating more fruits and veggies and making regular healthcare appointments.
Over the last couple decades, scientific studies have revealed that mindfulness boosts your immune system, increases positive emotions, decreases depression and anxiety, grows additional gray matter inside your brain, improves your ability to focus and complete tasks, fosters compassion and altruism, and enhances relationships and feelings of intimacy. Mindfulness is fundamental. Any habit you want to create or task you want to complete becomes easier as you spend more and more time being mindful. Mindfulness includes meditation but also habits like close listening, pausing before answering, or noticing your surroundings.
The quality of our lives is directly related to the quality of our relationships, and one of the most important relationship habits you can create that will nurture your personal relationships is spending quality time with the people you love. Prioritizing this kind of work-life integration is actually good for you.
One of your most important relationships is the one you have with yourself. Self-connection habits help you know and honor all the different facets of your personality and human nature — including those parts you may not like so much. Self-connection habits help you nurture your spirituality. Examples of self-connection habits include making regular time for prayer or contemplation, journaling, and engaging in hobbies. These types of habits can help you feel more confident, increase your self-esteem, and deepen your self-compassion.
Gratitude is a keystone habit whose good effects cascade through your life, improving nearly every area: physical, emotional, spiritual, work, and personal relationships. You name it, gratitude helps. Gratitude is a simple affirmation of goodness that acknowledges that the goodness comes from some place outside yourself. Saying “thank you” is a simple grateful act, but you can also become a grateful person who habitually looks at the world as a source of goodness. Gratitude habits can include writing a daily gratitude list, engaging in random acts of kindness, or saying grace.
Simplicity makes room in your life for what’s important to you. When your mind, your schedule, and your home are cluttered, spending time and energy on what’s most important to you is more difficult to do because it’s more difficult to see. You’re diffusing time and energy among too many interests and responsibilities.
Saying “no” is one of the most important habits you can develop to maintain your focus and productivity.
Philanthropy is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where the tongue in your mouth lines up with the tongue in your shoe. If you want to make the world a better place, then you have to DO SOMETHING about it. Philanthropy is you doing something about what you believe so that the world will be a better place. Making a monthly donation or having a regular place you volunteer are excellent philanthropy habits; so is impact investing, or even orienting your whole work life so that it focuses on achieving a mission.
Put these habits together to up your conscious leadership game
The only thing standing between you and the life you want are your habits; whether it’s the good habits you want but don’t have or the bad habits you have but don’t want. The reality of your daily life is the result of the habitual actions and decisions you make everyday. Intentionally make a habit of the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that will serve your greatest good. Incorporate these seven habits and your life will naturally unfold as an expression of your highest self.