An excerpt from WILD Habits: Unlock Your Mind, Improve Your Health and Release Your True Power
Kristen stops at her favorite coffee shop every single morning before work. She drives by on her route, so it seems convenient enough. Each morning, she turns right into the parking lot, stops at the drive-through, orders her coffee, pays her $4.50, and then heads to work. She gets to indulge in her habit and she even receives a reward — her coffee buzz (and maybe even a friendly “hello” to the cute barista).
She’s embarrassed about her car, though, and has been for a long time. Kristen has always driven a hunk of junk, and yet can’t seem to save money for her dream car. She gets a daily reward while drinking her coffee, but her satisfaction only lasts a few short minutes while she sips her drink. Meanwhile, Kristen actually has plenty of coffee to drink at home. In fact, she could make a month’s worth of coffee for about $5 if she took the time to brew her favorite brand, which she could easily buy at the grocery store.
Not only can Kristen save money by conquering her harmful habits but she can also open herself up to a completely new life. Say she cuts out her coffee shop stop from her route in the morning. This will improve her time management in multiple ways: Kristen doesn’t have to get in her car to drive, she doesn’t have to wait in line for her coffee or wonder how long the cars in front of her will take to be served. It also improves her emotional experience. She doesn’t expose herself to the morning anxiety of getting to work on someone else’s timeline.
With one less stop to make on her way, Kristen doesn’t feel as rushed. Her morning anxiety has melted away. She begins to enjoy a leisurely walk to work instead of her usual hurried drive. This, in turn, enhances Kristen’s walking stamina, boosts her mood, and improves her cardiovascular health. On her way to work, she is still able to say her friendly “hello” to completely different, interesting people in a totally new way, leaving her open to fresh and exciting experiences and relationships every single day.
She starts making a warm tea to-go before she heads out to work, to keep her away from the coffee shop. It works! After some days at this new habit, Kristen’s successfully avoided her harmful habit (and avoided her afternoon caffeine crash). Instead, she is naturally full of energy from her morning walk and green tea. She grabs a healthy salad at lunch, rather than a coffee refill.
Her new morning walking routine inspires Kristen to start running and going to the gym in her apartment building, activities that have incredible long-term health benefits, which she felt she “never had the time for” previously. Since Kristen is now saving on both coffee and car maintenance (gas, oil changes, and more), she’s eventually able to afford a gently used version of the car of her dreams. In this way, she has become a healthier, wealthier, more balanced person and has accomplished many of her long-term goals, simply by switching ONE habit.
Conquering just one harmful habit and replacing it with a WILD habit can have positive consequences in dozens of areas of your life. Now we’re going to learn how.
Every decision you make is a choice between getting better or getting worse: There is no standing still. You’ll begin to have automatic, positive mental habits through increased Discipline, and all the other steps in the WILD Method — Willingness, Intuition and Love — will also increase and expand. The more you reinforce an action, the more easily you can accomplish it the next time.
For instance, maybe you find yourself on a shopping app every night, even though it gives you a headache every morning when your bank account is negative again. Your “why” for your shopping habit is that you want the satisfaction. You crave the excitement of something new, but you know that your “shopping hangover” is real. You don’t really have money for bills or organic food or good lifestyle changes because you feel like you absolutely need the newest pair of shoes.
We don’t really shop to shop. We shop to fulfill a need: a sense of euphoria, social acceptance, or a feeling of intoxication at getting a new item, for instance. But it fades every time — and almost instantly. Having a new shirt feels great in the moment, but when you’ve worn it for a month and it’s made a cameo on social media, the “new shirt” feeling wears off. And really, our needs are never met. We don’t ever get the satisfaction that we’re truly after in the long term. Find your “why” and fulfill your need while cutting out your harmful habit.
You can replace the habit of shopping with the habit of donating. Any time you feel that you have some extra money to spend on yourself, ask yourself if you’re spending that money wisely. It’s okay to be self-indulgent every once in a while, or to buy a new out t for a certain event or special occasion, but before you spend your hard-earned money on frivolous things that are self-serving, do a bit of research to see who might be in need right now.
With this small switch, you are upgrading your “me” mentality to an “us” mentality. You have started to include other people in your fortune. You’ve begun to search for people in need, putting yourself in a greater position to serve. Instead of spending $50 on yourself, you may find a different charity to give a dollar to for twenty days, and put the rest away in a savings account. It feels so great to give, because you meet giving people and begin to feel gratitude for what you have. It feels wonderful to save because it makes you far less stressed out. It will make you feel so good it will be easy to keep up your discipline in this WILD habit.
Through this new WILD habit, you finally receive the long-term satisfaction that you’ve truly been seeking. Instead of doing this once, you start to do this every single night for a month. You like it so much (because it works!) that you decide to increase your new ritual to three months. If you can remain disciplined for a few weeks, this will become your new WILD habit. You’ll become more knowledgeable about the world. You’ll help others in a real and important way. You’ll become more selfless. You’ll experience the benefits that an education in humanity has to offer you to solve your problems. You won’t suffer from your morning “shopping hangover,” you won’t suffer from the ill effects of selfishness, and you won’t find yourself focusing on your wants quite as often, because you will be too busy focusing on the world’s needs.
A healthier, happier you can emerge sooner than you’d ever imagine. What you focus on will grow. Happiness and a great life are reflections of your habits. A positive mental habit can be planted, sewn and cultivated over time. With discipline, you can harvest your own happiness intentionally and on a long-term basis.
After implementing Willingness, Intuition, and Love, intense Discipline will be easier to recognize and stick to by asking yourself these questions:
• How has my behavior changed?
• How has this positively affected my life?
• How will I follow through on my goals today?