I truly believe that creating a happy life, largely takes root in daily habits.
Negative habits = Unhappy, and Positive habits = Happy
It is so simple, and yet completely perplexing to most people, as to an effective way to change their daily habits. It is obvious that exercising more frequently will increase the likelihood of weight loss, whilst increasing energy and general wellbeing. Yet this area in particular raises some real issues with people, being actually able to follow through with such ambitions. Same goes for eating healthy, or reading more, or doing anything that you feel will improve the quality of your life. The below may help you if you struggleto commit to any new lifestyle changes.
I just listened to a great podcast (The Good Life Project) with an interview with Gretchin Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”, and gained some really nice practical insight into why people may or may not struggle with changing their daily habits. Firstly, it is of benefit to understand the role that expectations play in our decision making process, and the influence they have in our ability to follow through with a new habit. She states that there are External expectations, such as those placed upon you in the form of school deadlines, work deadlines, social commitments etc. And there are also Internal expectations, such as honouring new years resolutions, or eating more healthy, or wanting to travel the world, or meditating and practicing gratitude etc. So with that, Gretchen suggests that people can fit into 1 of 4 personality types for habit change. I have listed these below:
- Upholder. Someone who thrives with upholding Internal and External expectations, without the need to hold anyone else accountable. Can quite easily form and create new habits without external intervention, and enjoys meeting all expectations.
- Obliger. Someone who needs External accountability to honour external or internal expectations. Such as joining a book club, to honour a desire to read more. Or finding a gym partner for those who want to exercise more. These people will find it extremely difficult to create new habits if they are left to their own devices.
- Questioner. Someone who questions the reasons why the internal or external expectation exists. Wants to understand all reasons as to why they would bother taking action, and needs to internalise a concept before being accountable. However, if questioners see value in an idea after rigidly questioning all angles, they have no problem creating new habits.
- Rebel. Someone who resists all forms of expectations and wants to do what they want all of the time. Will rarely take suggestions from others or listen to what they say. Will struggle to follow advice unless it is their own idea. Will generally resist the idea of habits altogether.
After listening to these and their descriptions it gave me some insight as to which category I personally fit under, and led to some conclusions as to why I am able to create new habits more efficiently than perhaps those people around me. It became obvious that I fit under the Upholder category, as I am very internally motivated to meet various expectations, whether they are internal or external, and don’t feel a need to be held accountable from external sources. It also helped me understand more comprehensively what category others may fit into, and why they differ in habit creation from myself.
Do you feel you can identify with any of these? Does an understanding of these personality types give you any ideas as to what might be an appropriate strategy to introduce some new habits, that you know will positively impact your life? Feel free to comment with any ideas or inspirations you might have felt after identifying your type.