20 Habits To Advance Your Health & Relationships: A Rulebook For Life
Make your health and happiness automatic. Hack your life with high-impact habits. Improve your relationships, energy, and mood.
I identified these habits over years of journaling and reading. These “if, then” algorithms form the basis of my approach to well-being and fulfillment, whoever I am with… even when I am with my family…
My goal with journaling is simple.
Identify the simplest, uncomplicated actions I must take on a daily basis to guarantee physical energy, relational nourishment, and positive mood.
For the last five years, I have been documenting and identifying constructive behaviors and habit loops that make my well-being seamless. These behaviors are in the form of a simple equation:
“If [trigger], then [behavior].”
This is the simplest way of describing a habit loop. Triggers are cues in our environment, psychology, or behavior that remind us to conduct an action. Every time we complete the action, we strengthen the neural circuit of a habit.
Here are my top habit loops for automating my happiness. That is, the separation of my well-being from conscious decision making.
Little disciplines compounded over time make a huge difference.
You will notice that some of the triggers below are the completion of other habits. This technique is known as habit stacking.
If I take a phone call, I get up and go for a walk.
Walking is a longevity hack. I try to move as much as possible by taking my phone calls on the move. I also do my physical meetings on the move.
If I go for a walk, I fold my arms behind my back to improve my posture.
Posture predicts mood. The more I can work on my posture the better. Hence, I walk in a way that conditions my muscles.
When I am participating in a workshop or lecture, I stretch or elevate my feet up against a wall.
Instead of sitting passively, I move my body. I either elevate my feet to assist blood flow, or I stand up and stretch my legs.
When I am conversing with someone, I squat or stretch.
Moving my body… all the time.
After my morning routine, I go for a walk while voice-dictating my journal.
I start my day with a morning walk. During, I use Otter.ai to voice-dictate my previous day. I reflect on what happened and what I learnt. This has been the best investment of my time. It is my most valuable habit. I haven’t missed a day in 3 years.
When I wake up from sleep, I imagine I’ve been revived from death.
The moment I open my eyes, I am thinking about death. I am imagining a new day with new opportunities. I am reminding myself that life is a gift.
When I finish imagining my revival, I imagine I’ve lost everything and been restored with all my belongings.
Wealth and health is a blessing. This short meditation puts me into a state of gratitude and ends my “taking it for granted-ness.”
When I get out of bed, I immediately go outside and look at the sun while drinking a glass of water.
Syncing my circadian clock by looking at the sun in the morning improves my sleep in the evening. While doing this, I hydrate my body, the essential nutrient.
All throughout the day, I have a water bottle nearby to remind myself to hydrate my body.
Dehydration leads to exhaustion and poor mental focus. Why not remind myself to hydrate?
After exiting the washroom, I do 1 pushup, 1 squat, and 1 sit up.
Movement-snacks throughout the day get the blood flowing. Elevating my heart-rate improves my focus and mood.
When I sit down for a meal, I do only one thing: I eat.
Absent-minded eating reduces the bioavailability of food. So, I opt for cherishing my food, chewing repeatedly, and slowing down.
When I see my first human in the morning, I hug them for 15 seconds.
The morning hug puts my body into a state of relaxation. Touch releases oxytocin, a stress-reducing neurotransmitter.
When I am checking my phone, I put the phone up to the height of my head.
This prevents the spinal harms of looking down all the time. It also promotes aligned posture.
After I take my morning cold shower, I do a shoulder hang.
I find a ledge or bar to hang from and decompress my spine. I heard about this habit from a spinal alignment / movement specialist.
After I do a shoulder hang, I do a headstand.
Inversion is great for lymphatic circulation. When I do my headstand, I also open and rotate my hips.
After an hour of working my desk, I do a high-intensity dance interval.
This is a physical energy management habit. I’ve realized it only takes 60 seconds of high-energy dancing to induce energy and joy for an hour. And so, every hour of focused desk work, I put on a song and dance/jump around.
When someone interrupts another person, I ask explicitly: “Were you finished speaking?”
Interruption can kill the psychological safety in social groups. When I witness interruption, I point it out to make people feel heard and safe.
If someone expresses excitement, I practice active constructive responding.
This is my keystone habit when it comes to positive human connection. It’s simple. Whenever someone expresses excitement or positivity, you get excited with them. If you’re paying attention to their emotions, it’s quite easy for the emotions to transfer to you. Authentic excitement!
When the sun goes down, I put on some fancy blue blockers.
Blue light kills sleep quality. It’s all over — street lights, LED indoor lighting, your phone and computer. If I want to sleep well, I reduce my light exposure from dusk onward.
Before I get into my bed, I verify that I am really sleepy.
If I am not sleepy, I don’t go to bed. I read until I am falling asleep, then when I hit the pillow, I fall asleep immediately.
When I am in an interaction with two people I know who haven’t met each other, I make an introduction with empowering descriptions.
This has become a game: How do I introduce people in the most complimentary way? Making people look good turns out to make me feel good. And so, whenever someone new enters a conversation, I introduce them to the people already in the conversation.
When there is a stranger in my vicinity, I approach them and introduce myself.
I don’t ignore people in my surroundings anymore. I used to ignore people sitting beside me or people who arrived in my space. Now, I introduce myself. Seat mate on a plane? Someone at your picnic table? Person in front of you in line? Try introducing yourself. Don’t worry about talking.
When I hug someone, I relax into the hug.
Longer hugs generate more health benefits. Hugs I receive are typically rushed. You can tell people have the goal to have a hug and then carry on with the day. It’s a checklist item. Relaxing into the hug is about intentionality. It’s about breathing and relaxing the shoulders and neck muscles during the hug.
When someone hurts me, I apply the malice checklist.
Was this person stressed, malnourished, sleep-deprived, or misled when they hurt me? This is the malice checklist. It’s based on the fundamental attribution error — most human behavior is a result of the environment, not character.
When I am responding to messages, I send voice notes while walking, squatting, or stretching.
I want to nourish people with my tonality and emotionality. Voice also enables me to do other things during my pursuit of inbox zero.
Use cues in your environment and behavior to motivate actions.
Could you do me a 10 second favor before you leave? If you’re feeling thankful, could you like or comment this article? What wisdom do you have to share with other readers? We’d love to hear your additions.
If you liked this article, you’ll like my blog about well-being hacking.
ps — I help innovative leaders prevent burnout and turnover by developing their workplace connection strategy. Do you know an HR or Employee Experience leader who’d benefit from a connection strategy audit and execution plan? I’ll do it pro bono. Chat with me.