How to Create High Quality Habits for Peak Performance
Do you have high-quality habits in your life? Do you even know what a high-quality habit is or how to create them? In this post and podcast episode, we look at high-quality habits in detail and the benefits of creating them. We’re designed to be habitual creatures by nature. Read any psychology book or listen to the world's best speakers around psychology, and you can be certain they will talk about habits. They’ll talk about how our brain is a pattern-recognition machine. It keeps us away from danger and it likes to find and form patterns. So, habits are a big part of our life.
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What is a high-quality habit?
How do we define a high-quality habit? We’ve narrowed it down to two things.
A high-quality habit needs to be ‘ecological’. Is it good for you? Is it good for other people? And is it good for your community, planet or where you live? For example, let’s say you want to go out with your friends for Friday night drinks. Is this a high-quality habit? Well, if you’re going to down 5 drinks in a couple of hours, on a physical level, probably not, but hanging out with your mates can be considered a high-quality habit. So, think about the habits that you currently have and put them in the ecological context. Are they good for you, are they good for others, and are they good for the planet? A high-quality habit is ‘autotelic’. Autotelic comes from the Greek autos and telos, which, put together, means automatic goal.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and a world-renowned philosopher and psychologist says:
"An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power, or fame, because so much of what he or she already does is rewarding. Because such persons experience flow in work, in family life, and when interacting with people, when eating, even when alone with nothing to do, they are less dependent on the external rewards that keep others motivated to go on with a life composed of routines. They are more autonomous and independent because they cannot be easily manipulated with threats or rewards from the outside. At the same time, they are involved with everything around them because they are fully immersed in the current of life."
Think for a moment about the power of this quote. He’s saying that when we form these habits, we experience a well of satisfaction that happens within us.
Which brings us to why we might want high-quality habits in the first place…
Rather than seeking satisfaction from external sources, seminars and self-help books, if we develop high-quality habits then the satisfaction will naturally arise from within.
Another way to describe this type of satisfaction is contentment. This can come about from simple things like sitting in the backyard and just enjoying being there, looking at the plants, or watching children at play. Imagine being able to sit with your mind calm and not racing, not wanting to be somewhere else, not wanting or needing anything other that what is already there. To want anything that isn’t there, is a sure pathway to anxiety and frustration.
Harmonise the body and mind!
High-quality habits also create harmony within the body and the mind.
While writing our book, ‘Three Lessons on How to Lower Stress Naturally’, we did a lot of research on the stresses that are inherent in the body at a physical level and how these are often overlooked.
One of our favourite passages is that it doesn't matter how many crystals you wave around your head, or how many lavender baths you have to try and calm your mind, if you haven't addressed the needs of the body, if you haven't addressed the traumas that are in the body, if you haven’t harmonised the body and mind together, then you're not going to get over or just ‘think’ your way out of those stressful situations. Harmonising the body and mind creates a wonderful sensation, similar to a runner's high when they’ve just been on a long distance run or completed a big workout. You feel great. Like you’ve nurtured your body, which of course you have.
There is one particular key habit that brings it all together…
The one important habit...
Breathing! No surprises there. Breathing is our life force. You stop breathing, you stop living.
But more than that, the diaphragm is the biggest muscle in the body, and it's the most underutilised muscle that we have. Big muscles need to be worked to perform at their best. Breathing is the only mechanism in the body that is both automatic and manual. You can either be in automatic drive, or you can take it and go into manual drive. It’s up to you. We talk more about that here. Breathing is the glue that holds all the other habits together. It's the master-reprogramming tool.
So if you were to prioritise which high-quality habit would have the most impact on your life, we’d encourage you to put breathing at the top of the list for sure. Actually we wouldn’t encourage you, we’d insist that you make it a priority. Let us know what you need from us to support you with that.
PS - Listening to The Breathing Edge Podcast is also another high-quality habit. If you haven’t already, please subscribe for more episodes.
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