Gretchen Rubin on The Power of Our Habits
In part two of the series Lessons from the Masters, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned from Gretchen Rubin about the power of our habits. Gretchen is the NY Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project, Better than Before and Happier at Home. She also hosts the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. I first read The Happiness Project in July of 2015 and it inspired me to start writing my blog, every day for a year. I called it the Gratitude Project. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same commercial success as Rubin (yet!) however by the end of the project I was a much better writer and had truly deepened my gratitude practice.
‘The most important thing we can think about is being true to ourselves. When we change our habits, we change our lives’ – Gretchen Rubin
At the Archangel Summit in September of 2016 I had the chance to hear Gretchen speak live for the first time. It was very special to have the chance to connect with someone whose work had such an impact on my life. And she had many great success tips to share with us.
First is the power of our habits: the invisible architecture of our everyday lives. Habits either help us or hurt it. And we know this, yet one of the most difficult things for most human beings is changing our habits from negative to positive.
Why are habits so important? As Gretchen puts it, you put the behavior on auto pilot and then it’s ‘natural’. The best way to get rid of an old habit that is not serving you is to start by creating a new positive habit. For example, if you have a habit of waking up unhappy and struggling to get out of bed, change the alarm name to ‘Wake up with Gratitude’ and replace being grumpy with being grateful.
In my own life, much like Gretchen, I am good at creating new habits and sticking to it. This probably comes from the fact that I trained for my first two Ironman triathlons without a coach, and completely alone for the one I did in Switzerland. When I choose to set my mind to something, I do it. I have also found that when you make a commitment to others, it’s easier to stick to your new habit. I had been wanting to create a solid, every day meditation habit and I’d been doing it on and off for a few months when I committed to a friend that I would do it every day. And as of today, it’s been 23 consecutive days (according to my Insight Timer app).
Sometimes, the best way to change a habit is by using the power of abstaining. I’m sure we all have areas in our lives where moderation just doesn’t work. It’s actually better to abstain all together. A recovering alcoholic understands this, there is no ‘just one drink’, they abstain completely.
In my own life, I struggled with an addiction to Diet Coke for over a decade. Even when I started my wellness business, I was still drinking that vile liquid. I had quit a few times, but every time I would have one even months after I had quit, I would be addicted again. It was so bad that I wouldn’t bring it into the house, so I’d end up buying one at the corner store which cost twice as much, and I’d grab a chocolate bar to go with it. I’m not proud of this and for the first few years in my business I convinced myself that it was ok to have this one vice. Then, one day when I was playing with my daughter who was about 15 months old, she picked up a can and tried to drink from it. Thankfully, it wasn’t open. And that was it. Never again. I have been abstaining ever since.
The last success lesson she shared with us, was to have command of the little things, if it’s something that you do in a minute, do it now. This is especially important when it comes to our email.
An easy rule to follow with email is not to open in unless you’re able to take care of it right away – either with an answer or putting it in the proper folder. This also helps avoid piles on our desks. By doing the little things right away, this helps to prevent clutter and disarray, which makes it harder to work and create success. She also recommended a power hour to get nagging tasks done. That’s when you shut the door, turn off your phone, close your social media and just get it done! Very powerful strategy.
I have learned so much from Gretchen Rubin about the power of habits and how they relate to the quality of our lives. I’ve just started listening to her podcast and the episodes are fairly short, so you can work through them quickly. Where in your life could your habits use a make-over?
Tues April 18: I’ll be speaking at a USANA event in Edmonton. Tickets are now on sale! Guests are always free.
Tues May 16: Save the date!! Wealthylicious is BACK!! Live at the Burlington Golf & Country Club. Early bird tickets are on sale, guests of USANA associates are always free: www.wealthyliciousburlington.eventbrite.ca