Life can look vastly different from one season to the next. Be it school and university, singleness or dating, marriage or divorce. Maybe a season of working long hours or multiple jobs. Whatever your current season looks like, variations make life beautiful and challenging, all whilst helping us grow. One of your greatest tools through life’s variations are healthy habits that help you stay strong internally, in spite of the changes you’re navigating externally.
‘Good habits formed at youth make all the difference’. – Aristotle
In every phase of life there are things we can control and others we can’t (here’s looking at you, 2020!). Habits are small bits of life where we choose things we control and enforce those that are taking us forward increment by increment, inch-by-inch.
‘By developing and practising good habits each day, you affirm that you do have control over the very core of your life in the midst of the chaos’. – Stephen Guise
Habits take us toward a congruent life where our values are carried out and expressed in our day-to-day living. Habits can be revealing. Sometimes we say we value healthy relationships, but when we don’t make consistent, sacrificial investments into them, our values may in fact be different than we think. Our time, money, and habits are the great revealers of our true values. Here are three habits that, no matter what season of life I’ve found myself in, have helped me in my pursuit to live authentically.
The Habit of Connection
This means regularly scheduling time for the people that matter most. Budget your time to include quality time for the relationships that matter. If you want to keep relationships growing and healthy (and who doesn’t?!), then you’ll need to make time for those people to have your undivided energy and focus. I’m amazed in my family of five how easy it is to do life alongside one another without stopping to invest in the quality of time and focus needed for genuine connection. When this habit is adopted, life as a whole functions better. We’re relational beings, made in the image of a relational God. When relationships are healthy, we find added grace and fortitude to cope with life’s hardships.
The Habit of Community
Barna Group’s research shows that during COVID-19, one in three practising Christians have stopped engaging with the church during 2020, but that the emotional well-being of those who have stopped attending church has declined and is worse off than those who have continued to engage (Source: “State of the Church” report available at barna.com) I’ve observed people who’ve stepped out of a commitment to a local body for “good reasons” and those who have stuck with the habit of showing up for church in spite of disappointment. The fruit of those who stick with the local church compared to those who don’t is like comparing the fruit from a tree in summer to the fruit of a tree in winter. Bold statement, but I stand by it. My mum told me growing up that when I least wanted to attend church was a good indicator that I most needed to show up. When things are hard, we need each other more, not less. We need the word of God more, not less, when life is full and stressful. The harder life is, the more we need corporate prayer, singing, rejoicing, and sharing burdens and joy with each other.
The Habit of Care
I’ve been exercising since I was twelve years old. I’m not obsessed with it, and I don’t even love it, but I’m committed to consistently doing it. Why? Because I’ve found it helps me cope better with the demands of life. It’s a habit that’s improved my emotional and mental resilience. Your mind, your heart, and your spirit are all housed in your physical body. Some things we struggle within our minds, in our hearts, even in our spirits can be helped by making sure our bodies get enough movement to stir the stagnant waters and burn off the stress of the day.
‘Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.’ – Charles Duhigg
What habits have you consistently carried through various seasons of life? Have they helped pull you toward living your values, or have they pulled you away from those values? Are there any of the habits above that you’d like to implement?