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Habits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Habits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

It took me a long time to get up in the morning, lace up my shoes and go straight to the park for my daily three-mile walk. I have to be honest, at first, it was difficult, and I had to devote a lot of mental energy to this task, but with time it became much easier. Now,  if it’s raining or if I have an early appointment, I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I first began establishing this habit when my children were young, and I needed solo time to re-energize myself and gather my thoughts. Later it became imperative when the doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure, and walking was the only alternative to medication.

We activate habits every day from the moment we get out of bed to the moment we go to bed.

Some habits are automatic. We wake up, we brush our teeth and practice good hygiene. It’s second nature.

Some habits we work very hard to establish. I love to read. For me, it would be easy to only read for pleasure. I could spend all day reading how-to articles on keeping my house organized and making healthy homemade meals. While this is great, I know I also need to read for professional reasons. One of the most challenging habits I had to develop, was learning to read research literature pertaining to my field. But after doing it over and over, I no longer dread it and instead seek out this literature on a daily basis.

Some habits we want to get rid of. I have made up my mind to get rid of gossip. By so doing, I’m also not allowing negative people to invade my space.

Old habits are hard to break. Through my experience what I can tell you for sure is that old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. But through the endless repetition of failures and successes, it’s possible to establish and maintain new habits.

Why form new habits? Why not just keep procrastinating and living life without discipline? Neuroscientists have traced our habit of changing behaviors to one part of the brain and our decision-making process to a different part. But as soon as behaviors become automatic, the decision making part of the brain goes into sleep mode, if you will.

Researchers from Duke University have shown that 40% of what we do is determined not by decisions but by habits. Can you imagine being able to perform specific tasks automatically without giving it a second thought, freeing space in our brain for more productive living? That’s what good habits do. Good daily habits energize us; bad habits drain us. That is the absolute reality.  

Start making small changes today, so that when you’re 75 years old, you can wake up healthier and happier because of the good habits you implemented today.

The key to good habit forming is planning and taking it one step at a time. Plan what you want to do differently, put it in your calendar and fulfill that promise to yourself. Make small, manageable steps towards the goals you are trying to reach. People that try to do it all in one day are rarely successful. I started walking half a mile a day. It was what I could manage physically and emotionally at the time. But I kept doing it and slowly started adding a few more steps to my daily walk. I have friends that are runners and can do 10 miles a day, I admire them, but I don’t envy them. I do what I can, and I insist on being consistent. Success is better achieved through small daily changes that are repeated over time. So whether you want to stop procrastinating, biting your nails, smoking, snacking incessantly, recurring to gossip, or beating yourself down with negativity, start small by doing it less and less until you achieve success.  

Our habits hold great influence over how we think, act and feel. We are the result and sum of our habits so don’t put it off any longer, invest in yourself. You are worth it.

What new habits would you like to establish? Which would you like to get rid of?  Let us know in the comments section below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

“Adulting” 101 – Why asking Why is important

“Adulting” 101 – Why asking Why is important

Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

As I get older and evaluate my life, I see that our 20’s has a lot of influence on how the next stages of our lives will be shaped. Why? Because our 20’s bring a lot of transition: High School to College, College to Career and Career and other Career, Singleness to Dating, (then maybe like in my case, single again several times over), then Marriage and quite possibly the Baby Carriage. But this is really a time to learn about you, see the world, experience friendships. These life experiences are some that are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. These are the memories that will turn into the good ol’ days. And truthfully, if we aren’t careful, these years can just fly by, unless we are intentional about setting a vision and living with purpose.

It is so important to have a vision for your life. Without a vision, you might be busy doing things, but you could be busy doing things without a point. The idea is to have a purpose and intention in what you do. So what do you really want to do with your life? Why am I doing what I currently am doing?

These are the questions I have been asking myself in a time of transition. As I am asking and evaluating, I think a good question to ask is “Why?” For most of us, when we were younger, we constantly bugged our parental figures with the questions of why. “Why does this happen?” “Why do you do that?” “Why this?” “Why that?” Yeah, it can get annoying, but I have found that asking ourselves the Why questions, allows us to answer and clearly explain to ourselves, why we are doing what we are doing.

For a few years now, I have been wearing a number of different hats, gaining a lot of great experience. I believe the quickest way to find our sweet spot is wearing different hats and finding out what we like and don’t like. However, it’s in these experiences that you evaluate whether or not this is something you want to continue dedicating yourself to. Knowing where you stand and where you want to go – that’s having a vision. When you have a direction of where you want to go with your life, spiritual walk, your marriage, your career, you can better determine what things you currently do in your life or might come across your path in the future, that will either benefit you or hinder you.

Here are a few practical ideas that can guide you through this vision-setting process.

Look at what you’re passionate about and how you’re wired. When you start to see some common threads in your life or overlapping interests and assess your skills, this might be a good mix of information to help guide you as to what you want to invest your life into in the years ahead. So what are you good at, what are you not-so-good at? What’s your story? Are there positions you continuously find yourself in or others elect you to? Use these questions as guides in developing a vision for yourself.

Take time to breathe.A common question in interviews is where do you see yourself in 5 years? Sometimes we can be so busy plowing in the fields that we lose focus on why we even starting tilling in the first place. It’s important to take time to remind and refocus, or else, it is easy for us to get drained and suffer from burn-out. Even more so, we might find ourselves in a position where we lost the vision.

Write it out! I believe we are more apt to follow through with a goal or an idea when we write it down and keep it visible for us to see. Just like scripture, if we embed it in our hearts, if we meditate on it day and night, it will become a part of us. The reality is that we tend to forget and when we forget we lose focus. Having a visual reminder continues to keep us focused and helps combat our forgetfulness.

Ask yourself the Why’s? Ask yourself (and ask others close to you to ask you), the tough questions. It is not always about looking for the advice or opinion, but allowing mentors, or your core supports, to ask you questions that will get you thinking and seeing things from another perspective. Everyone has an opinion and advice that could be easy to give and easy to find. Plus you can search around until you find someone that fits what you’re looking for and that might not always be the best thing.

When thinking about leaving your mark on your culture, your world, your church, your neighborhood, your family, it starts with a vision. Learning more about you, your skills, your passions should help guide you in understanding your purpose. When you start living on purpose, that breeds confidence, because you’re in your element. Taking time to process this for yourself, in all the areas of life you’re involved in, will help you develop vision. So be like a little toddler for a moment and ask yourself the “Why’s?” I think you’ll find yourself developing a decision-making style that is more visionary than circumstantial.

Do you have a vision and purpose for your life? Share with us your experience in the comments section below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

How to Love Your Partner at their Worst

How to Love Your Partner at their Worst

Contributed by
Dr. Charlie and Elizabeth Woehr

There is an old Western movie starring Clint Eastwood, titled: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Well, we humans can be like that. In fact, within every person, even you and your partner, there is the potential to at one time or another exhibit actions or attitudes that could be classified as good, bad, and even ugly!

It is easy to love a partner who is showing their good side. It is a bit harder to love a partner who is showing their bad side. It is much, much harder to love a partner who is showing their ugly side—at their worst.

To be able to LOVE your partner when they’re at their worst, you must develop, from the beginning of your relationship, a solid foundation. Here are the four elements you must integrate into that foundation, that will prepare you to LOVE in all kinds of situations:

 

L – Laugh often with your partner. Laughter has been called “the best medicine,” and there is a reason for that. Laughing together means sharing fun times, silly times, creating this way memories that will be the glue for when the tempests of trouble hit your relationship, helping to keep things from collapsing around you.

O – Open your hearts to each other; share your inner thoughts and feelings. Talk about the dreams you each have for your relationship. By opening your hearts to each other you are trusting each other with your deeply valuable thoughts and feelings. Being comfortable with each other is a prerequisite to wanting to support each other in those more difficult moments, when things are not as you would like them to be. If you have learned to open your hearts at times of vulnerability, this will create both a desire and need to get closer to your partner in difficult times, which will counter the natural tendency to move away from each other when things get tough.

V – Value the strengths each of you have and learn to expect those to be brought into play when things are not going so well. Is one of you a forgiving person? That will be brought into play when things are not going well. Is one of you a deep thinker? Value the analysis that will bring to reflection about where things have gone wrong. Your strengths will need to be known and brought to bear in difficult times.

E –  Expect to recover from difficult times you will face. Avoid generalizing by thinking to yourself that this “always” happens, or that this “will last a long time” or that “this will never end.” Rather think of positive outcomes and expect that your partner will react and come around, will ask forgiveness, and seek to restore any painful times caused by their worst moments. Expect that when the years go by these difficult moments will have made your relationship stronger. Expect is really to exercise FAITH: believing in the ultimate healing and restoration that will come, after the valley of pain or misunderstanding.

 

Want to love your partner at their worst? Start loving them at their best and put the L.O.V.E to work for you, as you prepare to weather the most challenging storms that inevitably come on the sea of life as a couple. Down the road of life, as you look back on these difficult times, you’ll be very glad you did!

How have you and your partner gotten through tough times in your relationship? Share with us in the comments area below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.