Do Your Habits Make You Happy?

Habits, when repeated often create neurological cravings, and most of these occur so gradually we don’t even notice them. Habits that are associated with endorphins, or a sense of accomplishment, are more likely to become an automatic response.

Do your habits make you happy

Habits that are associated with endorphins, or a sense of accomplishment, are more likely to become an automatic response.

During the early 1900s Claude C. Hopkins was considered an advertising guru. He was known for creating a set of rules that created new habits amongst consumers and these rules are still used today. So, when one of Hopkins’ friends wanted to market a new product, a toothpaste called Pepsodent, he asked Hopkins to help him. Hopkins declined because in those days hardly anyone bought toothpaste.

His friend however was persistent. He kept appealing to Hopkins’s ego until he eventually agreed to help. As part of his contract, Hopkins wanted a 6-month option on a block of the company’s stock, it turned out to be the wisest financial decision he ever made, because within five years Pepsodent toothpaste was one of the best-known products that was distributed world-wide.

The reason so many people fail when trying to establish a new habit is they use willpower and you cannot change a habit with just willpower.

To get your new habit to work for you it needs to be replaced with a new one. For instance, if you reach for food whenever you feel stressed, you could replace that habit with mindfulness.

How Habits Are Established

A habit need to be replaced with another habit. Hopkins’s model for establishing habits starts with a cue.

Your cue needs to be simple and obvious.

This cue needs to be linked to a routine which leads to a reward, and the reward needs to be something worth working towards. Let’s say you feel stressed often, this feeling could become your cue to be mindful, or to stop and do a five-minute meditation. The feeling of calm you get from engaging in these practices is your reward.

I’ve found that one good habit can lead to the establishment of other good habits. Studies have found that when someone meditates regularly, even for short periods of time they are more likely to be less reactive, calmer, and more focused. The same applies to exercise, even people who exercise once a week are more likely to eat healthier, be calmer and more productive.

The Power of Habit

The way to improve your life is to cultivate keystone habits that provide you with small but regular wins. Elite athletes use these principles all the time. Many aspiring athletes get out of bed in the early hours to hone their skills, regardless of the weather or how they feel. And their trainers know that they can’t control every aspect of an athlete’s life, but they can support the establishment of a winning mindset through healthy habits.

Michael Phelps, the American swimmer, holds the record for being the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning a total of 28 medals. His swimming coach Bob Bowman set up the habits that set Phelps apart from all other swimmers and one of the areas he targeted was creating the mindset of a winner. He established a series of behaviours that enabled Phelps to be calm and focused prior to a race, and behaviours for after each race.

At the end of each race, and before he went to sleep each night, Phelps would visualise himself swimming the perfect race. Eventually all his trainer had to do was whisper, “Get the video tape ready’, and Michael knew to start visualising himself completing the perfect swim. 

Do your habits work for you?

The question I regularly ask myself is, ‘Do my habits support the life I want to create?’

Having worked with clients since 1984 my experience has been that most people’s habits don’t. That’s because habits are old friends that are so familiar, we often don’t even notice or question them.

Procrastination is a habit. Self-doubt is a habit. Complaining and talking about problems is a habit. The way you respond to other people’s behaviour is a habit. When you change your habits, you can literally change your life.

You can use the same methodology to improve your life by saturating your consciousness with messages on how to live a positive, happy life. I started listening to inspirational audios when driving my car way back in 1979 and it’s a habit I still engage in today. I credit this simple habit as being one of the most powerful influences in my life.

There are so many simple habits that can change the way you feel such as always looking for the good, smiling at every person you pass or limiting the time you spend with people who complain all the time,

My automatic response when I feel down is to ask myself ‘What can I do to change the way I feel?’ Fortunately, I have a lot of tips and strategies at my fingertips, and I use these to lift my spirits.

A lot of the time depression results from the way we habitually think or the conversations we engage in, these too are habits.

There was a time in my life when I had a lot of self-doubt and that doubt kept me stuck for quite a while in both my business and personal life. One day I chose to say to myself, ‘What I think about me is more important than what anyone thinks about me’ and that became my mantra whenever I caught myself worrying about what other people think, or I doubted my choices.

I chose to be a trusting person and over time, acting like a trusting person became an automatic response. These simple habits enabled me to finally let go of self-doubt.