I have about 30 daily habits, I’ll mention just three, but their effects are significant indeed.
This habit saved my life. Not in some dramatic sense; I didn’t start running marathons while 300 lbs overweight. Nope.
The habit saved my life.
My whole life had been going steadily downhill for years. I was aimless and I felt no sense of purpose in my life.
I had been gaining weight slowly but surely. My friendships had become stale. I slacked at my work. I hadn’t seen any progress in my spiritual life.
I led the life of quiet desperation.
The only thing that kept me afloat was my exercise habit. Every morning I did one consecutive series of pushups to a point of failure. That’s it. No more exercises for the rest of the day.
The first improvement took place several months into this practice. I often forgot my morning prayer. I decided to couple it with my pushups routine. Immediately my prayer started to be very consistent. In the last ten years I don’t think I’ve missed my morning prayer more than 10 times.
For next 6 years I kept both disciplines and nothing else really progressed in my life. During this time I got laid off and although I found a new job, it was less well paid. It took me about two years to get my salary back up to a its previous level. I still felt like my life was going nowhere.
A keystone habit
The power of exercise is not solely in better health, performance and energy levels. I say these things are just by-products of exercises.
The real benefit is that regular exercises create a keystone habit. After you’ve trained literally for years, you won’t want to abandon this discipline. Over time it will compound into an impulse for progress.
Six years after going back to my pushups I finally decided to get serious about my weight. I changed my diet. I lost several pounds.
My years-long exercise discipline taught me the value of perseverance on a truly gut level. When I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, the book that argues that perseverance is a foundation of any results and can catapult you to a great level of success, the message immediately clicked in my head.
Despite the fact I hadn’t pursued any personal development for 16 years, I decided to try Jeff’s approach.
The rest is history. I found my purpose, my reasons to live. I developed dozens of good habits. I rebuilt my life.
Nowadays I write about 1,000 words a day. But back in August 2012 when I read The Slight Edge the only work I’d ever “published” was my master’s thesis.
While doing some soul searching, I discovered I wanted to be a writer. It took me a couple of months to publish my first blog post. It took me 8 months to publish my first book. It took me almost a year to start writing every day.
I’ve now published 15 books.
I keep two regular blogs. The questions I’ve answered on Quora have received over 1.5 million views. I’ve written coaching programs, guest posts and magazine articles.
How has it affected the quality of my life?
Writing is part of my identity and my purpose on this planet. Thanks to it I discovered I can help others over the distance of thousands of miles and years. An American reader read my first book two years after the date of publication. It helped her to overcome her life of quiet desperation.
My self-esteem has grown. I really help others and it solidifies my feeling of self-worth. And I feel like I’m doing the work I’m meant to be doing for the first time in my life. It gives an immense peace in the middle of life’s tribulations.
Plus, I’ve earned a nice side income. Thanks to the royalties from my first bestseller in 2015, we were able to afford a mortgage and buy our first house. Then we renovated it.
The improvement in our quality of life—for a family of five— in a home that has double the area of our old apartment is incredible.
Last year I changed jobs and I got a 35% salary raise. I credit it to my newfound confidence, which found its source in my writing.
III. Gratitude journaling.
I started my first gratitude journal on the 26th of September 2012. Now I keep three of them. I jot down every evening about 25-50 gratitude entries while reflecting on my day, accomplishments, marriage and kids.
Also, in the last 4 years my life was completely transformed. I overcame my shyness, started a writing career, bought a house, changed job, became a life coach and did plenty of other things. I failed many times, I succeeded in a few things and most importantly I persisted in my quest for growth.
I didn’t realize for a long while that I owed all this to my gratitude journals.
In December 2015 I listened to a podcast with Shawn Achor, the author of “The Happiness Advantage”. He explained that gratitude can rewire your brain into positivity. That’s true. I was a pessimist, my life motto was
“Expect the worse, you will have only pleasant surprises.”
Gratitude changed my mindset. And here is the reason why it is important:
Everything in your life is better when you are positive.
My experience fully agrees with this conclusion reached by happiness researchers. Today, I have more and better relationships, my fitness performance is off the charts—I was last sick in July 2013— my spiritual life is blooming, I earn about 50% more, earned some professional certificates, can read twice as fast…
The list of benefits goes on and on. Everything is better.
Those are just three examples out of many. I firmly believe that every good habit can improve the quality of your life.
This post reminded me that I should finally make a full inventory of my habits and their benefits to inspire others to work on their habits.
I hope I inspired you.