How Cultivating A Single Habit Improved My Life
The year 2020 has been a tough one for all of us, but for me it was the worst of my life.
My anxiety was at its all-time high, I was lost, broke, and, in a word – miserable.
I was spending my days scrolling down Facebook, liking silly memes, sharing them, and cursing myself for not doing anything productive.
But why was I not doing anything productive?
There’s this theory stating that there’s a difference between “action” and “movement”.
Movement is something that you do that is not of any intrinsic value (in and of itself). Action, on the other hand, is something that contributes to progress.
To understand the concept better, let me share what was happening with my life.
In the name of productivity, I was watching YouTube videos on “how to be more productive”, “how to start working out”, “how to study more”, etc. It gave off the impression that I was doing something productive, that it would change my life.
Even though I was getting some good advice, the reality was that it was of no use until and unless I got off my ass and started implementing it.
And that is exactly what is wrong with most of us. That is also exactly why I (and most people in my position) do not take action.
We believe that endlessly watching YouTube videos on self-improvement equates to productivity, which it doesn’t.
We deceive ourselves into believing that we are doing something productive, when, in fact, we are just passively consuming content or just thinking.
Even though I was moving (watching content on productivity), I wasn’t acting (actually being productive) and I wasn’t making any progress.
I started cycling
Just over a month ago, I read somewhere that cycling daily reduced panic attacks and improved mental health.
This was the time when I was practically manic. I had to try something, anything that could save me from my mental turmoil.
Seeing it as a ray of hope, the very next day, I got my old bicycle out from the garage and got it fixed.
I decided that I would cycle daily, in the evening.
But, being the person I am, I knew I would stop doing it within a couple of days without letting the practice make a visible difference in my life.
I had to make sure that I kept doing it to see positive results.
And to do that, I decided to treat myself with a bar of chocolate after every ride.
The trick worked and I kept on cycling to the point that it became a habit.
Amazingly, within just a few days I started to notice so many positive results.
What do you think happens when you cycle daily for 30-40 minutes?
Let me share what happened to me:
My anxiety reduced significantly.
I felt more present and mentally clear than I had been for a long time and started to feel better throughout the day.
This was expected as I knew from reading several studies the positive effects of exercise on mental health. But the extent to which it improved my mental clarity and reduced brain fog was something that amazed me.
Productivity and free time
I started cycling to improve my mental health. And it did.
But cycling, unexpectedly, improved my life in more ways than I could have imagined.
My productivity increased significantly. I started to do more work than I usually would.
The reason being that I unconsciously started adopting a rough routine.
Before cycling, I knew I had the whole day to complete my tasks and so I kept on delaying them.
I was the live example of Parkinson’s Law which states that your work expands to the time available for its completion.
But once I started cycling, my work time reduced which significantly increased my productivity.
Once I started following a work routine, I started doing the work that took me 6 hours to do in merely 3 hours (or less).
This gave me more time to relax and unwind, reducing work stress, and minimizing burnout.
Lethargy is something I have struggled with for the past few years.
And since I started cycling, I have felt more active.
Doing the dishes or getting groceries has never been this easy.
If I have to do something, I don’t slack, feel irritated, or try to postpone it.
I, almost automatically, get up and just do it.
If you decide to do just one thing right, every other thing starts to fall in place, eventually.
Everything in life is interconnected in infinite ways and it’s amazing how doing just a few simple things a day can have drastic changes to your life.
If you promise me, right here, right now, that you will start doing the thing (anything) you have been planning to do that you know will have significant positive effects on just one aspect of your life, I assure you, your life as a whole will brighten up.
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Author: Ahmed Sohaib
Ahmed Sohaib is a freelance writer and an independent contributor at the Beverly Hills Magazine. With a passion for personal growth and social good, Ahmed spends most of his days reading books on Philosophy, Psychology, and personal growth.