Taking a close and honest look at our habits can reveal a lot about the kind of people we are.
Depending on our habits, this might sound like a good or bad thing.
The good news is, our habits aren’t set in stone. And neither are our personalities.
Let’s explore the following five habits and see what they say about us as individuals:
1) How you tolerate risk and uncertainty
“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.”
– Brené Brown, Rising Strong
Uncertainty can feel like a dark and scary place. Or it can feel exciting.
Either way, it’s inevitable.
We can’t tell the future and we have to make choices not knowing or being able to control the outcome.
What’s your approach to uncertainty?
Do you try to avoid it at all costs or lean into its curiosity and possibility?
As people, we all want to avoid uncertainty to some extent. But the more we try to avoid this thing that’s ultimately unavoidable, the more it could lead to low tolerance and fear of risks.
On the other hand, if you embrace uncertainty and tend to lean into it, the more likely it is that you are open and curious, and have a higher risk tolerance.
Acknowledging your fear and choosing to go with curiosity instead can lead to different (and better) decisions.
Being curious about yourself, others, and the world around you can help you be more open, flexible, and brave.
It can help you face uncertainty with more courage and verve, even when it feels scary and vulnerable to do so.
Believe me, I know this doesn’t come naturally for many people, myself included.
I tend to be avoidant when it comes to uncertainty, but over time life has taught me to accept this reality and embrace uncertainty if I want to be more open and reap the rewards that can come with taking bigger risks.
2) Whether you’re open to insight and change
“Honesty and openness is always the foundation of insightful dialogue.”
– bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions
Do you consider yourself open to new insight and change?
When you ask questions or have conversations with people, are you open to hearing answers or receiving insights you didn’t expect?
Do you allow these insights to change your mind or teach you something new, even if you’ve held long-standing opinions?
As humans, we all have our biases that can blind us to new information, but lack of self-awareness around these biases could mean becoming rigid and closed off to learning.
On the other hand, if you can identify your biases and have an open dialogue with the world, it likely means you are gaining insight and (consciously) learning on a regular basis.
It’s hard to do this in a bubble.
Engaging in dialogue with others is important to gaining insight that can spark change in ourselves and others.
The late writer and educator bell hooks talks about the pleasure of being changed and reinvented by ideas. We live more freely when we can find the joy in this, even when it’s painful to let go of old ideas and change in the process.
3) How you show up in the present moment
“Mindfulness is… the capacity in each of us to be present one hundred percent to what is happening within and around us. […] The fruit of mindfulness practice is the realization that peace and joy are available within us and around us, right here and right now.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power
Would you say you tend to worry over the past or the future to the point that it distracts you and keeps you from living fully and happily in the present moment?
This is something I struggle with a lot.
If you struggle like me, it might be that you deal with anxiety over the past or future, or simply that you’re ambitious or future-driven.
It can be easy to take the present for granted, but the present moment is the only real moment we have.
The future isn’t here yet, and the past is no longer.
If you’re able to live in the moment, it could mean that you’re more carefree, or that you’ve made it a point to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is truly a practice in the sense that it is an ongoing process and struggle.
It can take the form of sitting still and meditating, observing the thoughts and feelings that come up for you and acknowledging their presence without judgment.
I realize this is easier said than done and I know from practice that sometimes my mind is simply too busy and I don’t have the bandwidth to sit still.
I like to do a moving meditation when I feel this way. I like to walk and observe the world around me. Or make a meal and fully immerse myself in the process. Or do stretches and make sure I’m still breathing.
I tend to feel anxious but practicing mindfulness has helped me cultivate more gratitude and ease, making a noticeable difference in my own health and happiness.
4) How you adapt to challenges and setbacks
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
– Maya Angelou
Being human, there are so many things we can’t control.
We didn’t choose the circumstances we were born into.
We can’t control other people and how they treat us.
But we can choose how we respond to the various challenges and setbacks we face.
Your initial reaction to an event may be automatic, but how do you process the event afterwards?
Do you tend to ruminate over the fact that you’ve been hurt, dwelling on and holding onto the anger and pain?
Do you deny the fact that you’ve been hurt, not giving yourself enough time to grieve or process the emotion?
Or maybe the event was so traumatic you weren’t even able to process it, and now you feel stuck.
How we process difficult circumstances reveals our resilience, or ability to adapt in a healthy manner to life’s setbacks.
I don’t mean to make a value judgment here.
There are so many things that might affect your ability to ‘bounce back’ after something difficult, and some of these things, like social and financial resources, might be out of your control.
Not to mention, healing can’t be rushed. Everyone has their own way of dealing with adversity, and there needs to be time and space for all our different processes.
Still, it’s true that how we adapt to life’s challenges reveals how resilient we are.
Career and performance coach Carole Pemberton describes resilience as the “capacity to remain flexible in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors when faced by life disruption, or extended periods of pressure, so that we emerge from difficulty stronger, wiser, and more able.”
It’s a good thing resilience isn’t a fixed trait!
It’s one of those traits we can foster and build as we practice better self-care and coping skills.
5) Whether you practice self-care and healthy coping strategies
We all experience hardships that are both common and unique to our individual circumstances.
These might include…
- The death of a loved one
- Job loss
- Financial strain
- Natural disasters
- A global pandemic
How do you cope with your own pain and suffering?
Do you allow yourself to grieve?
Do you write or journal to help you process your thoughts and emotions?
Do you have a friend or trusted someone you can talk to?
Do you have a therapist or other healthcare provider you can talk to?
Do you find solace in spiritual practice and community?
Do you find comfort and identification for your pain in books and other reading?
Do you give your body the proper rest and nutrition it needs to function?
What else do you do that works for you, in helping you access better health and happiness?
Healing is not a fast or linear process, but practicing better self-care and coping strategies can help you foster resilience through life’s hardships.
You can change your habits and in the process, your mind.