Maybe you have heard that “You need to give your children two things – wings and roots”. I would say that we need to give ourselves the same things too. A healthy and happy life is based on the balance between two things. The first one is the “freedom to fly” – to experience newness, explore, travel, dream big and strive to achieve the potential of our body, mind and soul. The second thing is to have the feeling of belonging to something strong, stable, nourishing and grounded - the comfort of being able to “come home” whenever we need to. “Home” isn’t necessarily a place. It is an internal state of security, coziness, serenity and care.
During childhood our parents were responsible for teaching us to maintain this balance in our lives. Some parents cope with this better than others. When we grow up, we ourselves are our own children. We need to be the loving and wise parent of the child within. This loving self-care will be the best lesson in self-respect our children can learn from us. Creating good and healthy habits is essential. They give us roots. They help us feel grounded and stable. The strength we derive from them is like fuel for our new projects, for making changes in our lives and exploring new territories.
If you are a person with a predominant element Air, you will benefit even more than the others from learning how to create good habits and developing the quality of being consistent. Since Air people are usually dreamers, experimenters, visionaries, most of the time they “fly” on the wings of their creativity, ideas, and dreams. However, to balance themselves, they have to strengthen the roots they have. This will diminish the anxiety typical of them when they are under stress or when there is an excess of the element Air.
Building a habit is more than motivation +willpower
These two components of the formula are indispensable. We all have a certain capacity of willpower and even though it’s true that using it makes it stronger in the same way workouts make muscles stronger, the excessive use of it depletes our mental energy and leads to a burnout. Imagine again a muscle we load too much – it often results in an injury, trauma or a general feeling of exhaustion which decreases the power of the immune system.
Like in physical training, building a habit may require some general rules to be considered and of course, applying an individual approach with the help of self-observation and creativity. Creativity, which people with predominant Air are so good at, can be used in the first part of creating a habit – when we are trying to discover the suitable signs that can be used as a trigger for the routine healthy action which will eventually lead us to the reward - the health and wellbeing benefits.
Sign – Action – Reward
Some useful steps in the process of building a new habit:
· Link the action you want to turn into habit to a certain sign – something that you usually do every day. For example, you start doing the task after your morning tea. Or after listening to a favorite song. Firstly, you will need to think about it. Then after time, the mere act of listening to that song will put you in the mood for the following action.
Visualize the process, not just the end result. According to a study from UCLA, people who engaged in visualizations that included the process of what had to be done to achieve the aim were more successful in staying consistent than the others who just fantasized about the final result. For example, before falling asleep, visualize how you learn new words and a new grammar item, then imagine how you watch movies in the foreign language and then how you use the language in your job or go on a vacation to the foreign country. Imagining the necessary steps is like a preparation for your brain for the activity and it also keeps you focused on it.
· Predict the possible setbacks. What factors might provoke resistance in you towards the activity? For example, you want to go to the gym after work but you have noticed that giving yourself some time on the couch before starting to prepare your gym bag, makes you feel sleepy and you often decide to skip the workout. Try preparing your gym bag the night before and putting it in the hallway somewhere near the door so when you see it, you just go to the gym without any delay.
Building even one good habit can have a tremendous effect on your life. In the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg you will see examples of how one good lifestyle change serves as the beginning of a positive chain of life transformation events.