Keystone habits are essentially good habits that bring their friends along. Everything we do is related to something else. When we identify and cultivate keystone habits, we get several benefits for the price of one. For example, exercise is one of the most potent keystone habits. It’s hard for some people to get in the habit of exercising regularly, but it’s well worth the effort. Exercise has many benefits in itself, such strengthening your cardiovascular system, helping you maintain a healthy weight, and improving your mood and concentration. However, habitual exercise also has a lot of secondary benefits. Many people find their diet gradually improves because they know eating junk food will only make them more miserable when they exercise. Exercise also improves your sleep. It wears you out physically, and it reduces your anxiety so you tend to fall asleep more easily at night. If you exercise first thing in the morning, it also gives you an incentive to go to bed at a reasonable hour so you’re not quite so tired in the morning. You don’t have to try to eat better or sleep more, they are just natural results of your new exercise habit. Other keystone habits include meditation, reading, sleeping eight hours a night, journaling, or even making your bed when you get up in the morning. Exactly what habit you decide to adopt depends on your priorities. It may take some experimentation to figure out which keystone habits are most powerful for you. Many of the benefits of adopting a good habit may be unexpected. For example, if your keystone habit is to attend a 12-step meeting every day, you might find that a secondary benefit is that you become more socially outgoing. The reason keystone habits are so important for recovery is that you may have to make quite a few changes in a short time. Unfortunately, trying to form many habits at once will usually fail. However, keystone habits give you more leverage. You can focus on only the most important changes and let the other changes follow along. Instead of trying to eat better, pray or meditate every day, write every day, read every day, exercise, sleep more, go to meetings, make new friends, and so on, you can focus on, say going to a meeting every day, and getting some exercise, and most of those other things will fall into place pretty easily.
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