5 books to help create healthy habits
5 books to help create healthy habits
With the New Year in full swing, many of us are looking to shed old habits and build new ones for a happier and more productive life. Fortunately, there is no shortage of reading material on the subject of self-improvement.
With expert insights from therapists and life coaches, HealthyWomen has put together a list of five books that will help you create healthy habits and put the bad ones to bed for good.
1. “Atomic Habits: A Proven, Simple Way to Build Good Habits and Break Down Bad Habits” by James Clear
“Atomic Habits” is the perfect book for people who are short on time but drowning in bad habits. It’s clear, broken down into easy concepts, and teaches readers how to create big life transformations through small actionable changes.
“I think the most important aspect of this book is the idea that you can change identities through small changes,” she said Emily Sharp, LCAT,, art therapist and psychotherapist. “In other words, you can change who you are through what you do. “Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits.” This is especially relevant for women over 35, who may feel that (their) schemas are too ingrained to change. Taking baby steps, which can ultimately lead to a change in identity, helps women build confidence and self-esteem and can generally lead to a more positive outlook.
2. “The Spirit of Kaizen: Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time” by Robert Maurer
Kaizen it is Japanese term meaning continuous improvement, and it’s actually a beautiful philosophy for developing — and building upon — new habits. This book is about how to fight resistance to change by making gradual changes that our brains will barely notice at first. Over time, these small adjustments will equate to big adjustments and eventually whole new ways of being.
“Maurer explores the science behind behavior change and provides simple tips and strategies that can help you make gradual, sustainable changes to your daily habits,” she said Miriam Geiger, LMFT, LPCC, psychotherapist. “Whether you’re trying to eat better, exercise more consistently, or make time for a creative hobby, this book can help you reach your goals by showing you how to take small steps that lead to big results.”
For example, if you want to go for a run every morning, the first step in the spirit of Kaizen is to simply wear your running shoes every morning for several days in a row, then go through the morning as usual, without going for a run.
“Once wearing your (running) shoes becomes a habit that you don’t have to think about, you can add other things, like wearing your running clothes and doing some warm-up exercises,” Geiger said. “But note, you haven’t gone running yet. The key is to take it slow and sneak up on it so your brain doesn’t perceive the new habit as a threat.
3. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
If you’ve ever heard of a book on habits, chances are it’s this one. This The New York Times bestseller has sold more than 40 million copies. It is a book that explores a system of principles as a way to form new habits and ultimately solve problems in both life and business.
“The great thing about this book is that it can help a person become more aware of their perceptions,” she said Sam Nabil, a licensed professional counselor and life and relationship coach. “For example, in a particular struggle, for a person to successfully overcome it, she must change the way she sees herself and her perceptions. It’s the same concept as James Clear’s identity-based approach (in “Atomic Habits”), in my opinion. The only difference is that changing your identity only takes two steps. In this, you must follow seven habits: be proactive, start with the end in mind, put things first, think win-win, seek to understand first and then be understood, synergize and sharpen the saw.
4. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
This book teaches that you can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it. And that’s good news, because you absolutely have the power to change it.
“Let’s say a person has been struggling with bad habits for years, but wants to extinguish these bad habits in the new year,” said Nabil. “What they can do is identify the cue or motivation that drives them to make this particular habit. Once they have found their main driver, they need to figure out how they can improve their response to this cue or routine. Routine is what gets them their reward. For example, a person smokes cigarettes every time he has his morning coffee. Coffee is the cue, smoking is their routine, and the high they get is the reward. To change this bad habit, they need to consciously understand the cues and rewards surrounding the routine. For example, if they can’t break their routine of smoking cigarettes with their morning coffee, they (should) try to find a replacement for the routine. Exercise is a good substitute because it releases endorphins.
5. “Elastic Habits: How To Create Smarter Habits That Fit Into Your Day” by Stephen Guise
This book emphasizes the importance of flexible habits and how they can help you prepare for whatever life throws your way. “If a person puts flexibility and resilience at the heart of their habit-forming strategy, they can easily bend these habits and adjust based on what fits their day,” said Nabil. “He imagines only fragile and rigid materials. They shatter easily when bent, unlike elastic materials, which are flexible and strong and can easily withstand pressure. The same goes for habits. While consistency is key, life happens. (You) need to form habits that can easily survive life’s turbulence.
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