Building Better Habits & A Better Me

Have you ever taken the time to look at your own actions to see determine if your daily routines and habits are helping to build a better you? It seems as though we all get caught up from time to time in the day to day grind and forget that this life is singular in nature, and we each have that one shot to try and live it to the fullest. At times we all fall short of excelling in that pursuit and end up settling for lesser than we deserve. 

When something goes wrong in my life, I have a pretty standard routine or practice that tends to follow whatever issue may have come up. It is usually a conditioned emotional response that dictates my state of mind. Whether it be anxiety, fear, depression, etc. there is some manner that I will respond with that I’ve taught myself to do over the years of my life. We all probably do this to an extent anytime we are building positive or negative habits. I'm not sure that I was fully aware of this practice that I so often employed until I recently listed to a fantastic podcast with Ed Mylett and his guest Dr. Joe Dispenza. If you've never heard of the podcast #MAXOUT then I highly recommend starting with this pod as a place to garner up the inspiration you need to get moving on your own journey of building a better you. Even better if you've got the time to sit down in a quiet place and escape the noise of daily problems with a book, then grab a copy of Ed Mylett's book linked below which provides a roadmap for you the reader to start pursuing the best version of you in an easy to consume, "no-nonsense" step-by-step guide. 

In the last month of my life I’ve made the decision to spend the time to take a hard look at my own behavior and have come to realize that I have not been living my best life. As I delve deeper into this self-evaluation stage I’ve started targeting areas in my life that I want to focus on in order to really start working to develop me. Part of my call to action is to listen to podcasts throughout the day that are going to help me stay focused on the task at hand, that is, to become my best self from a physical, mental, and spiritual point of view. Working to build up my confidence and self esteem in this pursuit is key as it will help me to maintain consistency in that journey.
This specific podcast was a great wake-up call as it put into words the practice that I’m striving to utilize in order to prepare myself for what the universe may have to offer me in life. After listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza discuss how our mind influences our body and vice versa, I’m becoming more aware of my emotional responses. I am trying and failing often. But I guess at this point in my life, I have to hone in on the fact that I AM TRYING!!
Building Better Habits
Finding the center of a tootsie pop
How many failures must come before you finally experience the success that you are after? Kind of reminds me of the "how many licks does it to take to get to the center of a tootsie pop" question. At times it feels like an infinite amount of failures lie ahead of me and with no clear purpose or dream currently outlined. It can definitely feel impossible to believe that you can experience success. So I’ve made it my aim over the remainder of the year to focus on myself and start working to create new habits so that I can experience some successes in the development of the one person who has full power to change my life for the better (Hint: Me). What am I doing to start building better habits? What content am I consuming that will help me build up my self esteem and confidence? How am pursuing a path towards a healthier mindset and body? An even better question: WHO am I surrounding myself with in this pursuit of building the best me? Are they people who are encouraging and want to see me succeed? That's something to really consider as you are moving forward in adopting new hobbies and habits to better yourself and find success in this life. 

Building a Better Me: Mental Health

In pursuit of building better habits and creating a structured plan to get my mind, body, and spirit where I'd like to be, I've adopted some new habits and incorporated them into my weekly routine in order to strengthen my resolve and do my best to maintain consistency in this effort. One such habit that I believe will pay major dividends in my pursuit, is to wake up an hour earlier each weekday in order to read self-help/personal development books with my lovely wife. While it sounds simple enough, it may take you a few weeks to get into the hang of this habit as its been rather enjoyable for us but not without some early morning complaining when we first began adding this into our morning ritual. We take the time to read a book for about 20 to 30 minutes whilst sipping on our favorite cup of coffee, and then delve into unstructured discussions that could be a response to what we just finished reading or any other topic that may arise in our brain during that time together.

We've discussed plans for our future, what dreams we had the night before, or even ideas of how to work on our home to make it more quirky and functional for our needs as a family. Sometimes we find ourselves laughing hysterically at a bad joke or silly thoughts that are bound to pop up when you are trying to get warmed up for the day at 4-5 am in the morning. This little bit of time that we've added into our morning routine gives us some much needed one on one as husband and wife (which believe is difficult to manage when you've got a 2 year old in the mix). It has been an extremely rewarding way to start our day out and it is helping us both to get moving on the right foot from the moment that first alarm goes off. Taking this time for yourself if you aren't in a relationship currently or as a couple if you are looking to build more quality time with your best friend in life, is a surefire way to build towards a better you and solidify your mental sanity as a human being in this oft chaotic world. 

The second new habit or hobby that I've incorporated in my day to day routine has been to listen to more podcast with a focus on pods that feature guidance on personal development and self-help. Listening to podcasts throughout my workday that increase my concentration and focus in maintaining motivation throughout my pursuit of building better habits, has been an excellent strategy to stave off burnout, which I discuss in more detail here. I've been an avid consumer of podcasts for YEARS now but will admit that in last few years I've strayed from listening to pods that are actually helping build me up as a person and had been consuming more and more pods that were based on pop-culture, tv/music criticism, and plenty of sports podcasts. While those podcasts are extremely fun and they bring a lot of entertainment value to the table, I've tried to allocate a little less time for those and up the ante towards more speakers that are looking to equip me as a human and provide their experience in pursuit of success. Three of my favorite podcasts have been hosted by Ed Mylett, Rachel Hollis, and Gretchen Rubin (all of whom I've included in my Top 10 Podcasts for 2019, list).

While Rachel and Gretchen's pods are definitely more geared towards women, the lessons and stories contained on them are still relative and applicable to the pursuit of growing as a human being, no matter your gender. If you are looking to also increase your connection and solidify your relationship with your significant other, I've found that listening to these as a couple can foster a lot of discussion that is positive and provides for an excellent foundation in your pursuit of building up a healthier relationship with your SO.

The final step that I've taken in pursuing a healthier mind and sounder sense of mental health, has been to start Therapy. When I first contemplated the idea of going to therapy for the first time, it was difficult for me to fathom as it felt as though by admitting that I should start going to therapy, I was also admitting that I was a failure. This mindset and approach was so far from the truth and reality that I now look back and realize how silly that thought is. While when I first was at that point of indecision as to whether or not I should see a therapist, I was feeling an immense challenge with accepting the idea that I might need someone else's help in navigating my own struggles in life, especially when it came to mental health. Engaging in discussions with my wife about the subject solicited tremendous weight and stress as I allowed waves of anxiety, fear and embarrassment to take root in my thought process.

I now realize that this was a conditioned response as I've allowed outside perceptions of what therapy means to dissuade me from admitting that I needed to go, and also convinced myself that making that admission was a sign of weakness or failure. In fact, admitting that I needed to go to Therapy has been a fantastic step for me and I now look at it as a sign of strength and a foundational shift in that I am now doing more than ever to understand the inner complexities of my past and reconcile with that information to try and shape a better path forward. If you want to read a more detailed expression of my experience in finding the right therapist, check out this post.

In pursuit of bettering myself and establishing healthier habits to reach my goal of being a better me, going to therapy has been of immense benefit and it has been one of the best decisions I've made. 

Building a Better Me: Physical Health

Isn't it crazy how sometimes the simplest of changes feel as though they have the greatest impact on your day to day routine? Keeping that in mind, one of the habits we've adopted as of late in pursuing a better version of ourselves has been to go on a walk in our neighborhood a few times a week. Its nothing dramatic or insane in its scope but it has been a solid way for us to get some exercise, breathe in some fresh air, and continue to share the world with our daughter. While this may not seem like a big deal to the readers who are extremely active in their pursuit of having excellent physical health, for two people like my wife and I that spend 8+ hours in a cubicle behind a computer, this adjustment is welcome. Venturing outside for around a half hour in the evenings (despite the often 90-100 degree weather that we experience here in the great state of Texas) has been an excellent way to work towards being healthier humans and getting our daughter active. If we want her to be an athlete or active human as she grows up then there is no better time to start engaging in said active lifestyle than while she is young.

To take even a step further in pursuing a healthier body, I've also etched out some time to go to a weekly gathering not too far from my house to play 5 on 5 basketball in a men's league that I've been apart of since my daughter was born. I absolutely love the sport of basketball and while I'm no Lebron James or Luka Doncic, it does give me a great outlet and release for my energy and is rather rewarding especially when we manage to rack up some team wins. I think as a dad and husband its also a great habit to adopt in order to have some much needed "me time" without having to sacrifice much time with my family (especially on the nights that they are able to come and cheer me on).

Having that pre-planned, single night to get out and do something for yourself when you have a young one at home and are in a committed relationship, is vital in order for you to maintain a healthy sense of self. I can admit that there are plenty of times when I have no desire at all to drive and spend the hour playing basketball but I try and remind myself of the rewarding and satisfying feeling that always accompanies me after a hard fought game (win or lose). Conquering my own apathy and pushing through to get out and play a sport that I've always love, has been an excellent way for me to build a better me.

The final step that I've added into my life in order to improve my physical health has been to go Keto! 6 weeks into this pursuit, I'm down 18 lbs, my heartburn has subsided and my energy levels are fantastic. For too long, I've eaten unhealthy foods that make me feel weighted down, tired, and lethargic. By introducing Keto into the mix I'm eating delicious, whole foods that are not heavily processed, are low on carbs, and provide me with the healthy fats I need to get in a good day of work whether in the office or at home. I eat more veggies now that I ever have and this added pursuit is helping me to not only feel more physically healthy, but to look it as well. When I originally started the diet I was around 236 lbs (as a 6'5" man) and I now am weighing in at 218. Is it hard sometimes when I want pizza, beer, or chips? Yes. Is it worth it to keep going and fight the temptation of breaking Ketosis? Doubly so. If you are looking to break out of an unhealthy routine in your eating or are not feeling motivated to exercise but want to start losing weight, then Keto is an excellent starting point in that pursuit. I love the Keto friendly recipes found in the book linked below as they provide you a way forward to pursue this low carb lifestyle while still enjoying some of your favorite dishes to maintain motivation in that journey. You can also head over to the sub-reddit, /r/keto, for more info on starting out and pushing through the first few weeks of this challenging but rewarding diet.

Building a Better Me: Spiritual Health

This area is one that I’ve been neglecting a lot over the last 6 months but I believe that in order to be my best self and be ready for whatever the universe has to offer, I’ve got to be mentally, physically, and spiritually fit to receive and be open to what is out there for me and for my wife. That being said, we are a month into getting back into a routine of going to our local church every Sunday morning. Doing so has already brought me so much joy as it is plugging us back into a positive community that wants to see us succeed as much as we desire it ourselves. Whether you get your spiritual development from a religion, meditation, yoga, or some other avenue, I think spending the time to contemplate our place in this universe and our connectedness those around you is a highly underrated pursuit that can be truly life altering. I can’t emphasize enough how much just getting up and spending an hour with a spiritual community whose aim is to help equip you with the spiritual tools to succeed, has helped us train our thoughts and hearts on being better version of ourselves. I look forward to challenging myself moving forward to take a bigger step and re-involve myself in serving my local church and using my talents in music and communication to help others better understand their own spiritual journey.

      I encourage you to comment the ways that you have been working to develop yourself in aiming to build a better you. Share any of your own tips or tricks that have helped you to stay on task and consistent in your efforts. Share this post if you enjoy it and subscribe to keep up as I will be posting at least often with updates in my journey towards self-development and building up my own self-esteem! 

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