8 Easy Ways to Start Building Powerful Habits

Amy Morin shows us how.

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No. 1: Know the Three Keys to Mental Strength

There are three parts to mental strength: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Developing mental strength is about learning how to regulate your thoughts, manage your emotions, and behave productively despite whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

"What are you doing that challenges you to become better?" —Amy Morin

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No. 2: Look at the Habits You Already Have

The first step in cultivating mental strength is examining your daily habits. What are you doing that challenges you to become better? And what bad habits rob you of mental strength? Then, you can identify the changes you need to make to the way you think and behave so you can become mentally stronger.

No. 3: Work Out Your Brain *and* Body

There are many exercises that build mental muscle. I keep a gratitude journal to train my brain to look for the good in life. I practice meditation and mindfulness regularly to help quiet my brain and keep me in the right frame of mind. I also take good care of my body with regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and healthy food so I can feel my best. I challenge my negative thoughts and set aside time each day to reflect on my progress.

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No. 4: Get Inspiration From Your Loved Ones

I'm fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who exemplify mental strength. One person who serves as an incredible role model is my late husband's grandmother. She went zip-lining and shark-diving with us when she was in her eighties. She's 91 now. She never complains about anything. She's incredibly kind, and she lives according to her values.

No. 5: Stop Worrying About Pleasing Other People

It's important for people-pleasers to examine why they do it. For some, it's a self-worth issue. They only feel good about themselves when others like them. For others, it's a fear of upsetting someone. Fixing the problem starts with reminding yourself why it's important to say no sometimes and why you need to stand up for your beliefs.

"Create a list of the top reasons why you don't have to please everyone. Read over the list whenever you're tempted to say yes to something you don't want to do."

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Create a list of the top reasons why you don't have to please everyone. Read over the list whenever you're tempted to say yes to something you don't want to do. After that, it's a matter of practicing this mentality one small step at a time. Eventually, you can build confidence in yourself and your ability to live according to your own values, even when other people don't like your choices.

No. 6: Learn How to Identify Your Emotions

We make our best decisions when our emotions and our logic are in check. If you're really excited about something you'll underestimate the risk. If you're afraid, however, you'll overestimate risk. So, I pay attention to how I'm feeling. I label the emotion and think about how that may influence the way I am looking at the situation. Then, I write down a list of the potential risks and benefits. Writing down the facts can raise my logic and balances out my emotions so I can make the wisest decision.

"Many people fear confrontation. But getting pushback can help you see something in a new light."

No. 7: Stop Being Afraid of Confrontation

It's important to understand your communication style. Do you tend to be passive? Do you grow defensive? Do you get aggressive when people challenge you? Many people fear confrontation or they view it as a bad thing. But getting pushback can help you see something in a new light, and it can be the beginning of a productive conversation.

"Showing the other person you hear what they are saying—regardless of whether you agree—can go a long way."

It's important to listen to someone else's concerns. Unfortunately, most people are so busy thinking about what they're going to say next, they don't listen. But showing the other person you hear what they are saying—regardless of whether you agree—can go a long way toward furthering the conversation. Once you show you're trying to understand the other person's point of view, that individual may be more willing to try to understand your points better.

No. 8: Follow the 10-Minute Rule

This is a great way to combat procrastination. Tell yourself you only have to do a task for 10 minutes. Then, when your time is up, you can decide to quit or keep going. Whether it's working out or cleaning the house, once you get started, you'll most likely find the motivation to keep going when the 10 minutes are up. It's a great way to talk yourself into getting started.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin, $17, harpercollins.com.

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