I’m sorry I haven’t posted much lately. I have been working 70 hour weeks, which are both physically and mentally exhausting. I’m working on paying off my car loan so I can experience freedom from debt. I plan to start posting more often starting in February.
Happy New Year!
For every new year, there are millions of people looking to start the new year with healthier habits. Whether that be adding new healthy habits like exercise, more vegetables, meditation, etc into their daily activities. Some want to reduce or eliminate unhealthy habits like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling, screen use, etc. We can start right NOW instead of the arbitrary beginning of a new calendar year.
Our life is a sum of our habits. Luckily for us, our brain is highly malleable. Neuroscientists are proving that our brain is highly malleable to our environment and habits. By changing our habits, we rewire our brain and change our lives. Our life is not set, we can grow and change over a long period of time. We can replace old unskillful habits with new healthy habits starting right NOW.
I’m not perfect when it comes to changing my habits but I do have a good track record in changing my behavior. I went from a carnivore to a vegan in 2017, while working at a restaurant that is primarily meat-based. I lost 20lbs in 2017 and have kept it off. I started this blog and my Facebook/Instagram page “Zen Actions” and have consistently posted new content. Let’s get into a couple strategies for habitual changes as well as some pitfalls of the “all or nothing” mindset.
Start small, do what you can, and have fun.
I, like many others, thought that we had to change our behaviors drastically overnight to achieve our vision. This led to many failed attempts because our brain is so wired to do these habits every day. Most long-lasting habitual changes start by changing our habits slowly over-time. I didn’t become a vegan overnight; I first became a Lacto-Ovo-Pescetarian (Dairy-eggs-fish) in May 2017 and slowly cut down my use of dairy in a 6 month period. Then in November 2017, I took the leap into a 100% plant-based diet. In that 6 months, I learned more about the plant-based lifestyle and how to successfully transition. I now have compassion and understanding for those who struggle to get off a meat-based diet. I still have lots of room to improve my diet by eating more whole food plants and less processed plant-based foods in 2018.
Do what you can.
I’m a single guy in my 20’s with no kids, making habitual changes slightly easier than those who have a family, elderly, or disabled. A single mom/father might not have the time to meditate 30 minutes a day every day. Someone in their 80’s might not have the energy to run a marathon. This is where most people give up on their habits. The “all or nothing” mentality prevents the single parents from starting a meditation practice even if its just mindful breathing 5 minutes a day for now. The elderly person gives up on exercise because they can’t run a marathon but they could walk for 10 minutes a day for now. You’re planting seeds that could grow with consistent and creative actions.
Changing your habits doesn’t have to be so serious. I joke around about being vegan all the time at work and my coworkers are intrigued by my lifestyle. I even got a local guy to eat a tofu stir fry and he really enjoyed it. The worst idea for losing weight is to choose an activity that you hate to do. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to run a mile a day. Find activities you have fun doing but burn calories like basketball, tennis, hiking, etc. If you’re not a morning person, work out at night time.
Don’t buy into societal norms that you have to be a morning person to thrive or that you have to “go big or go home”. Most people in that mindset eventually go home, lol. Many people exaggerate how much they can do in a month but underestimate what they can do in a year. By taking small steps in the right direction, we can fundamentally change our mindset, habits, and overall life. It’s not about how fast we go but in what direction we are heading. There will be times that we have to take a huge leap but for the most part, life is a continuous process of small steps.
My intention is to empower you to take conscious steps towards a more meaningful, peaceful, and joyful life.
“I have arrived. I am here. My destination in every step.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh