It’s human nature to seek balance, harmony, and pleasure. We tend to follow the path of least resistance mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
I find the indigenous symbol of the medicine wheel to be a good tool to assist seeking equilibrium. I use it myself and teach this method to my lifestyle coaching/athletic personal training clients. The medicine wheel helps with setting realistic and attractive goals, putting a plan in place, accountability by monitoring progress, and therefore ultimately reaching desired outcomes in a timely manner.
The first step is to create small habits in each quarter of the circle divided by the four seasons. Each micro goal should be simple and easy to commit to doing on a daily basis. If you “just do it” as Nike says or “act to feel better” as Gretchen Rubin author of the Happiness Project suggests you will slowly and gradually change your behavior over the long run.
When it comes to pleasure, as in hitting the snooze button when warm and cozy in bed versus the pain one might feel when the alarm goes off at 5:00 am alerting you it’s time hit to the gym, the path of least resistance is obvious. But, with some goals, such as resistance training, the reward is delayed giving you pleasure in the long run as this habit contributes to your overall health and wellbeing.
I have developed a number of rewarding daily habits using the medicine wheel approach. Here are a few examples:
Mental - Meditation
Spiritual - Prayer Emotional- Gratitude Journal
Physical - Yoga
These four habits stacked together create my morning routine. Completing it all only takes one hour. Grounded and calm is a great way to start my day. Studies show that people who exercise in the early morning are more apt to stick to their routine, becoming life-long fitness enthusiasts. This is because people tend to have more control over their schedule first thing in the morning with limited excuses and/or interruptions.
One of my favorite yoga poses to practice daily is Tree Pose. This pose will help you develop better balance, strengthen your legs and core muscles as we’ll assist with your ability to focus. Stand on one foot balanced over the heel, little toe and big toe. Externally rotate your other leg, bend your knee, and place your foot above your ankle. Inhale and slowly raise your arms overhead, spread your fingers wide, reaching up and out like the branches of a tree. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other leg. (See photo.)
It’s never too late to create a new habit or have willingness to change. Develop your own medicine wheel and establish goals to move you in the right direction.
“Change of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett