My current writing project is a book that will be called Before and After, about the most fascinating subject ever, the subject of habits. How do we make and break habits–really?
It was my interest in happiness that led me to the subject of habits, and of course, the study of habits is really the study of happiness.
Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness.
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If we have habits that work for us, we’re much more likely to be happy, healthy, productive, and creative. Or not.
When I talk to people about their happiness challenges, they often point to hurdles related to a habit they want to make or break.
When I think about the habits that I wanted to cultivate, or talk to people about their happiness challenges, it seems as though just about every habit that people seek to make or break falls into the “Big Five”:
1. Eat and drink more healthfully
2. Exercise regularly
3. Rest and relax
4. Stop procrastinating, make consistent progress
5. Organize, clear, and simplify
Does this ring true to you? Are there any habits that you try to foster that don’t fall into one of these categories?
The Big Five reflect the fact that we often feel both tired and wired. We feel exhausted, but also feel jacked up on adrenaline, caffeine, and sugar. We feel frantically busy, but also feel that we’re not spending enough time on the things that really matter. We want to use our time well, but we fritter away hours on activities that are neither particularly fun nor particularly productive.
I call these habit areas the “Big Five,” but I really want to come up with a catchier phrase. Any suggestions?
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.
*Image courtesy of Sebastian Mary.