Three Tips for Forming Good Habits (Like, Tracking Your “Three Good Things”)

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

Last week I wrote about the three good things challenge, and I must confess: I dropped the ball. Or rather, I keep falling asleep way earlier than I intend. I made it through four days and skipped two. So, I’ll be starting over again this weekend.

(Do you have anything great to report? Share in the comments below please.)

It got me thinking about how we form new habits. Some seem very easy, like finding myself at Starbucks this holiday season to partake of their caramel brulee latte. Other habits, like writing my three good things, are a struggle. So here are a few tips I found on the interwebs that actually seem pretty helpful.

1) Start exceedingly small. Social scientist B.J. Fogg says this should be your first step. Want to exercise in the morning? He says the best way to form this habit is to take the very first step you’d have to take toward exercising. Fogg suggested this writer begin by simply lacing up her running shoes every morning for five days. Want to floss every night? Start by flossing one tooth every night for a week.

For three good things, I imagine this means starting by opening the journal I’ve set my bed. Or intentionally falling asleep (imagine that!).

2) Form a habit loop. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, it’s all about the loop. First you need a CUE, a trigger that tells your brain. For three good things, that could be seeing my journal on my nightstand. The second part of the loop is the ROUTINE, which can be the physical activity (picking up my journal) or mental (recalling the three good things of my day). The final is the REWARD, which is how your brain will figure out if this is worth it. Science said that three good things IS worth it, and I imagine my brain will soon figure that out as well.

3) Believe change is possible. Both Fogg and Duhigg point out that we will sometimes fail. So we have to go easy on ourselves. Find someone to help you. Congratulate yourself on small successes. And above all, believe you can do it. I can write my three good things for 14 days, but now I know I need my hubby to nudge me when I start snoring away and clear my nightstand of candy wrappers and piles of books and magazines so I can actually see my journal.

Do you have any tips for creating new habits? Share them in the comments.



Five Minutes for Two Weeks Can Change Your Life: Will You Accept the “Three Good Things” Challenge?

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

The science is in and the results prove: A positive attitude is a key to better health. It’s as easy as taking five minutes for 14 days to reflect on the good stuff.

I recently heard a researcher from Duke University speak to an audience of physicians about using the science of mindfulness to combat a bigtime problem people in health care face: burnout. And I walked away with a tool–and a challenge–for us chronically ill sorts.

A Scientific Formula for Increasing Your Own Resiliency

I’ve never met a more resilient bunch than the people I know who have lupus. But day after day of feeling hungover (sans awesome levels of consumption the night before) can leave the sunniest dispositioned person feeling blah.
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Colorado’s Anti “Puffing” Law Impacts People Living with Chronic Pain (And Other Thoughts I Should Be Forgiven For)

Carie ShermanBy Carie Sherman

Holy change in weather, batman!

I’ve been hurting so badly and had no idea why, until my mom reminded me that Grandpa Harold always said he knew when the weather was changing because he felt it in his bones.

And then there’s my BFF, who doesn’t have an autoimmune condition yet complains of pain and weakness in her bum knee. Poor girl. Her bum knee is the result of having an airhead for a “spotter” who let her fall and tear her ACL during cheerleading practice. In my defense, I had a Tootsie Pop in my hand. Who knows what might have happened if I’d been a good spotter? Maybe she’d have had to cut a lollipop out of her hair? Or suffered a puncture wound from that cardboard-stick thingy?

Another friend posted on Facebook about her Raynaud’s and not being able to feel her toes. And yesterday I met a woman I just met who was having trouble picking something up.

“My hands aren’t working,” she said. Mine weren’t either.
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Three Books That Helped Me Feel Better

By Carie ShermanCarie Sherman

The last few weeks have been stressful. Good stress, which included much needed social time and fun new work projects, but I fear my body is on the brink of a shutdown.

Thank goodness for the weekend. My plan is to hang close to bed and exercise my DVR. And finally give some attention to the stack of magazines and books piled on my nightstand. Which got me thinking about three books that I enjoyed recently. And thought you might like too.

(Bonus–each is available on Kindle!)

1) Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness by Sara Gorman. This book has it all–from dealing with the emotional impact to talking with your doc to building your new “normal” life–all in practical terms. This was the first book I read after my DX, and it helped open my eyes to the impact my lifestyle had on my body. It was a good lesson in balance taught by someone who also struggles to keep her feet on the beam.

2)  Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga in Stressful Times by Judith Hanson Lasater. Stress is my default setting. Even over something as trivial as which book to read next, I’ll clench my jaw, furrow my brow, and hold my breath. Which is why I need to do everything I can to stay mindful. This book helps you to recognize your body’s responses to stress and provides a mechanism for releasing said stress. No familiarity with yoga required.

3) Gutbliss by Robynne Chutkan, MD. How many of you have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, GERD, and other such digestive woes? I’ve long been convinced that the root of all my health problems come from my overly-sensitive gut. This is the first MD that I’ve read who seems sensitive to how our bodies respond systemically to poor nutrition, stress, over-prescribing, etc. I’m so tired to feeling awful. So I’m going to follow her 10-day plan. I’ll keep you posted.

Have you read these? Or are there other books you would recommend?