Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. – It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you. – Jim Rohn
Have you ever been telling yourself that you should eat healthier food or that you should get some exercise? Or have you come across articles telling you how being grateful for what you have is important in life?
Of course, you know all those things, but are they part of your daily life?
Why you fail to create the changes you want in your life – Knowing Is Not Feeling
We often know what we should do but we are not actually doing it. Why is that? It is simply because we don’t have any strong emotional connection with those things we know we should do. We know we should adopt a healthier diet, we know we should exercise, we know we shouldn’t procrastinate but we don’t really feel a strong desire to do it, neither do we feel much pleasure doing it.
The reality is that we never took the time to build strong emotions or feelings to support all those new habits we would like to adopt in our life. Put is simply, we don’t have a strong enough “why” that would allow us to consistently eat healthy food, exercise, or being grateful for all the things we have in your life. We are solely relying on our willpower to form those habits and we more than often succumb to instant gratification.
In my article How to Form Habits Effortlessly – The Power Of The Compound Effect I explain how daily habits carried on consistently can allow us to form new habits successfully without having to rely on willpower. Another way to reduce the amount of willpower required to implement a new habit is by feeling all the positive effect it will bring in our life.
Let’s take dieting as an example. The annual revenue of the weight-loss industry reaches ＄20 billion dollars in the United-States only and about 100 million Americans are said to be on diet. There are so many types of diet plans today that many people must feel overwhelmed. With so many diet programs and more than 100 millions of people wanting to lose weight, how come the obesity rate is not decreasing?
It’s because the real problem is not in our plate, it is not in what we are eating? The problem lies in why we are eating what we are eating. What is our emotional attachment to food. What needs are we trying to meet by eating? Is it stress? Is it loneliness? Do we derive so much pleasure from eating than we cannot resist instant gratification?
What do you think would happen if you could derive more pleasure from eating healthy food than from eating unhealthy food? You will naturally stop eating unhealthy food of course. What if you could create a strong emotional attachment to healthy food through daily practice? Would you be willing to do it?
Create a strong emotional attachment to healthy food
The only way you can feel good about eating healthy food is by feeling what eating healthy food will do for you not just by knowing it.
In order to create an emotional attachment to healthy food you need to create the daily habit of feeling good about eating healthy food.
First, create a list of all the short-term and long-term benefits that consuming healthy food will bring into your life, and find how you can connect them to your core values
If I eat healthy food
– I will live longer
What it means to me:
- I will be able to spend more time with my great children and see them growing. I can’t wait to see what awesome people they are going to become. Each single day I can see them growing is an inestimable gift.
- I will have many healthy years ahead of me after retirement. I will be able to travel around the world, to keep practicing my hobbies, to keep accomplishing goals and dreams I have. I will have a few extra years in my life. It is so valuable. I can’t imagine what I can accomplish in those years.
- I will have significantly lower risk of having a cancer or a heart attack and will potentially avoid years of pain
– I will have more energy
What it means to me :
- I have more energy and can accomplish more in my life. I can achieve more goals and feel more fulfilled.
– I will have more self-esteem
What it means to me:
- I’m proud of me. I’m taking care of my body. I fuel my body with this awesome healthy food that is pure raw energy.
It is just a few examples of some benefits and ways you can connect them to your core values. The idea is to find emotions that really resonate within you, that strike a chord. Something that brings smile on your face and excites you just by thinking about it. It might be the joy of seeing your great children going through life. Who doesn’t want that? Or If you have a strong life purpose, and I hope you have one, the joy of being able to pursue that life purpose for a longer period of time and keep contributing to the society. Or maybe you just love life and want to be around for as long as you can. Actually, one of the common characteristics of people who live to be hundred is that they have a life purpose. They know why they wake up every morning. What about you? Why do you want so bad to eat healthy food? What are your core values? How can you connect those core values to the benefits of a healthy diet?
Cultivate your emotions
Once you have identified all the emotional benefits that eating healthy foods can bring you, Practice! It will take some time to cultivate your emotions and create a strong emotional attachment to healthy food. Make a commitment to start each day by eating one fruit you like and while eating it, visualize and say to yourself out loud all the awesome benefits it is providing you and how great you feel about it. Don’t worry if you cannot find strong emotions that resonate within you right away. By practicing every day they will become stronger.
As you might have realized this exercise is actually very similar to positive affirmations and visualization. The only difference is that you connect your feelings to a specific object: healthy food in that case.
Look for role models
To make your why stronger look for role models, people you would like to be like. Did you know that a 101-year-old British run a marathon? Do you know people in their 90s who are still very active? When I was watching Dan Buttner’s TED Talk: How to live to be 100+, I got really inspired by seeing people over 100-year-old still riding their bike or gardening. It made me realize that it is possible to stay healthy longer that I thought. It was a little while after I finished my one-month vegetarian experience. (Check my article Myth ＃1 – Human Beings Need To Eat Meat for more information). At that time, I was wondering what should I do with my diet. I knew that eating less meat would be beneficial for my health but I didn’t really feel immediate benefits. Some people notice positive changes in their energy level, but it didn’t really happen to me. I knew that killing animals just for the taste of their meat wasn’t really appealing to me anymore. However, because I hadn’t created any real strong emotional connections it didn’t really help me feeling that I should eat less meat.
The TED talk I mentioned above had way more impact on me, because it helped me really feel the benefits that a healthy diet will have in the long run on my life. It struck a chord with me and gave me the idea to start building a stronger connection between healthy food and the positive impact it will have on my life. I do eat meat but only occasionally and decide to eat fish a few times a week for the time being. However, I’m determined to gradually improve my diet.
Here is an interesting website that estimates your life expectancy based on your current lifestyle. The great thing is that it provides you with a detail report that shows you what you can change to improve your health. Life Expectancy Calculator
My advice to people on diet
I always hated all those diet programs available on the market. I believe the only way to have a healthier diet is to improve our diet little by little and read a few good books on nutrition to make sure we know which products are healthy and which are not. I would suggest people on diet to try out this method:
- Make it a habit to start every single day with a fruit or anything else that is healthy
- Say out loud and visualize all the benefits that it provides to you. Find reasons that really strike a chord with you.
- Once you consistently practice daily for 2 weeks, add another healthy product and progressively shift towards an healthier breakfast
- Try to start your day with more and more healthier products before having your first unhealthy product. Take pride of not breaking the chain of eating healthy products. Apart from that, don’t try harder than you feel like to change things in your diet during the day, just eat what you feel like eating. Then, progressively and at your own pace, start every day with more and more healthy products. If you create strong enough positive connections with healthy food, my take is that you will progressively start eating more healthy products throughout the day.
- Spend more time with people who take great care of their health. Join Vegan groups or groups of people who are obsessed by their health and are constantly trying to improve their diet (you can visit meetup for instance). Understand their motivations, ask them why it is so important for them to eat healthy food and what benefits do they get from that. Immerse yourself as much as you can in their daily life. To get some support, you can also join groups of people who, like you, are trying to lose weight. However, remember: “If you would like to be thinner, spend all your time with skinny people. Have all your meals with skinny people” – Vasant Lad. If you want to become a millionaire with option do you prefer: being surrounded by really millionaires, or by people who are trying to become millionaires? Stop doing what other people on diet are doing, do what people who don’t need to diet are doing. Our environment has a tremendous impact on us. Make it work for you not against you.
If you want to learn about nutrition I recommend a book that was useful for me: The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Johny Bowden
Are you feeling grateful for everything you have in your life? If we were able to feel grateful just by being alive and realize this amazing chance we have, we would significantly improve our well-being and our happiness. It doesn’t matter where you are now there are always many things you can be grateful for. You can be grateful for simple things like having a roof, having clothes, having food or having friends for instance. Or you can be grateful for all your qualities. The list you can create is endless. It is only up to your imagination.
You might have come across many articles telling you that in order to have a happy life, you need be grateful. You probably know that you should be more grateful but knowing it is not the same thing as feeling it. I perfectly understand how important it is for my well-being to be grateful but it doesn’t help me feel more grateful. Why? Because I haven’t learn to cultivate that feeling of gratefulness by practicing every day.
To feel more grateful we need to train our brain to focus on what we have, not on what we don’t have.
A common exercise to do is to make a list of 10 things you are grateful for every morning. The list can be the same every day but you might want to think of new things to be grateful for every day. The problem with this simple habit is that, like all other simple yet powerful daily habits like meditating, going for a walk or repeating affirmations, it is very easy not to do because we don’t get instant benefits from those habits. It might take a couple of week or a month for you to start feeling some benefits. Here is a great video on gratitude by Joseph Clough, a famous hypnotherapist.
Actually, I tried this exercise before but I stopped after a week because, to be honest, I didn’t believe it would really work. I said to myself that in the near future I would look for better ways to feel more grateful. However, less than a week ago I came accross a great video on youtube. I realized that this song was good at triggering feeling of gratefulness within me and thus started to listen to it every morning and even during the day sometimes. I already feel some changes. I recommend you to give it a try too. While listening to that song, visualizing what you are grateful for or make a list of things you are grateful for can be more powerful that just writing a list. The important thing is to feel that emotion of gratefulness. You might also want to sing. (like I do ;-))
It is important to cultivate our emotions in order to create a strong why behind everything we are trying to do. Having a strong why that reflects our core values will allow us to create more easily the changes we want in your life. When you can give a strong meaning to any kind of changes you are trying to make in your life, you reduce the amount of willpower needed to create that change. Practice on a daily basis by implementing very small changes and you will soon see positve changes in your life.
What about you? How can you cultivate your emotions to bring the changes you want in your life? Share with me your thoughts by leaving me a comment below
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