Meditation was my gateway drug. It led me persistently down the path to becoming a self improvement junkie.
In 2016, my goal was to begin a new happiness boosting habit each month. Then I would carry out the new practice for the rest of the year. I hoped that these small habits would slowly change my life. And you know what? They did.
I started with meditation. I began meditating in the summer of 2015. I started with the tiniest expectation: meditate for two minutes every day. I’m a busy, busy Thinker and a Doer. The idea of sitting still for even two minutes was kind of terrifying. But it’s just two minutes, right? After about a week, I built up to five minutes a day. Later, seven minutes. Then ten. I could see that I was already a calmer, happier person.
Life got in the way, as it does. My meditation practice became inconsistent until I began using the Headspace app in December. I instantly loved guided meditation with Andy Puddicombe.
After creating a consistent daily meditation practice, I realized I could maintain new daily habits. The trick was to start with small goals, and to focus on one thing at a time. Hence, my year of happiness boosting practices. Combined, all of these practices transformed my life.
My Daily Practices
December 2015: Meditation
January 2016: Calorie Tracking & Drinking Less Wine
February 2016: Reading
March 2016: Walking
April 2016: Gratitude
May 2016: Drinking Less Wine, revisited successfully this time
June 2016: Writing
July 2016: Zen Month: No Complaining
August 2016: Yoga, Mindful Eating & Lovingkindness Meditation
September 2016: Therapy
October 2016: Mindfulness Classes: Resilience Training Program at Penny George Institute
November 2016: Strength Training with Resistance Bands
The only habit that I abandoned entirely was calorie tracking. I realized that I wanted to add habits that would increase my happiness and my mindfulness. Calorie tracking had a joyless, restrictive vibe that I rebelled against.
I’m glad I did. At the time I was worried. I thought that failure to follow through on calorie tracking would start a precedent that would make my whole year of healthy habits a failure. Nope. Good move, Kell. When I took mindful eating classes in August, that was much more up my alley.
When I began my year of happiness boosting habits, I was pretty intense about them. I kind of white-knuckled the whole thing.
Must. Do. Happiness. Boosting. Habits. NOW! It began to stress me out. I realized I needed to change my attitude about my habits.
Now I look at these practices like a menu. What do I want to do today? What’s practical? It’s the end of December in Minnesota. I’m not walking much these days. It’s usually either freezing, snowy or icy. Instead, I’ve been doing strength training with resistance bands on most days. I’ve also been doing yoga. In the spring, these habits may shift as I walk more.
FREE HEADSPACE MEMBERSHIP!
You guys, as of today, I’ve meditated 365 days in a row. The Headspace app tracks how much you meditate, and Headspace rewards consistent meditators with memberships to give away. I’ve given away about seven Headspace vouchers. I love knowing that others are benefitting from meditation.
Today I have three free months of Headspace to give to the first person to comment on this blog. I’ll email you the Headspace voucher.
My Newest Practices
The last time I blogged about my happiness practices was September 4th. In the fall, my new practices were therapy and group mindfulness classes. Both were positive experiences, but it was a lot to process. Combined, these practices seemed overwhelming at times. There were a lot of feelings. I’m a rational thinker type, so all these feelings were foreign and uncomfortable.
I do intend to write about each of these happiness habits. Last fall I was so consumed with doing my practices that I didn’t write much. I’m a very different person now from the person who began meditation in 2015, in endless ways. I’m excited to tell you guys the whole process!
Did you begin any new practices in 2016? Do you have new practices planned for 2017? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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