1. Do you have “happy habits”?

    Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and City was fabulous --but some of her habits were less appealing! Everyone talks about how hard it is to break bad habits. Millions of people struggle with it every day. From smoking to compulsive eating, habitually-destructive behavior has a well-deserved bad reputation. But have you ever thought about “happy habits”? 

    As hard as it is to break a habit, it is sometimes even harder to find the time and energy to get into new happy habits. Some experts say they only way to change behavior successfully is to replace undesirable behavior or habits with new and better ones. This has worked for me.
    I have made exercise a part of my life even though I am not naturally athletic, and sports bores me to death. But once I found a fitness center I enjoyed attending and exercise I enjoyed doing, the habit took hold.
    I limit my socializing to a few nights a week so I can have more creative energy. I want to have time to work and rest, and not be swept away by my love for the “La DolceDolce Vita.” Life is still very sweet with plenty of time for fun, but no longer do hours slip away with those friends who always want to play when I have other things to do.
    Believe me, it hasn’t always been easy, and it still isn’t. We all get into ruts. Things get away from us. Bad habits can form from fatigue, lack of time, depression, and even proximity. I know; all these things have happened to me. The trick is to think about our habits every once in while and sort them out, friend from foe.
    The worst habit I dropped over the years was smoking. I never smoked regularly, but when I did I smoked a lot. I adored smoking. I wish I could say I came to my senses or that I suddenly felt awful, but I didn’t. It felt just fabulous. I just loved to smoke with a drink. It was all so Sex and the City.
    Then one day, a wonderful doctor rained on my martini. He explained in the nicest way that smoking might not kill me at all, but could give me a stroke. He told me I wouldn’t like that at all, and he suggested I quit. It was so sensible, I had to listen. In addition, I had gained a few pounds.
    So, I just did it. Quit, cold turkey. It really wasn’t hard at all. I was terrified of gaining weight, but what a wonderful time it became to get rid of a few other bad habits. I started to walk almost every day. I went back to eating my usual healthy protein and vegetable diet, which had fallen by the wayside. And it all worked out very well.
    I have never smoked again. And I actually lost more weight than I had planned; it’s not a bad thing.
    This wasn’t drastic. I didn’t lose 50 pounds. I didn’t through go a total lifestyle change. But I did make a few adjustments that improved my life. I did all of this for almost three months and told no one. It was fabulous.
    When I moved to Atlanta, a city where walking is not a way of life and I lost my precious Toronto gym, I had to start over. It wasn’t easy. But, I am happy to say, I’m back at it and in the gym five days week. The changes in my body happen more slowly now then they did 10 years ago. That cab be frustrating, but the “happy habit” is back in place.
    There was a great sense of freedom to privately adjusting my lifestyle, relationships, attitudes, and habits. After all, I knew the changes I was making were not negotiable. I wanted more time to walk, think, work, and be. I still wanted a social life with great dinners, wine, and fun. But I also chose to spend less time with those who had negative attitudes, habits, and were not “life-enhancing.” I was, and always am, seeking an optimal balance. It brought me even closer to loved ones. I even made cherished new friends.
    It was harder to make time for myself to exercise. I had to learn to say no to old friends with bad habits, and that was harder than quitting smoking. I just had to decide to take that time for me. After all, I wouldn’t question the time I spent brushing my teeth or getting my hair cut; it was just that simple.
     Studies show that happiness is largely predetermined by attitude. I think a lot of life and happiness may be the result of simple habits. Learning to walk more, eat better, finding exercise you love, and even making your bed every day can change your life. Maybe we can even make being happy a habit. Darlings, we have so little control over most things, but we can choose our friends and our habits.