“Happiness lies, first of all, in health.” George William Curtis
Whatever your goal is, maintaining a fit body, weight loss, maintaining your blood sugar, cholesterol or reducing stress, adopting changes in lifestyle is not hard. But maintaining them is a tough calling. Old habits are hard to quit.
Avoiding a piece of brownie, or an extra glass of wine during Christmas or thanksgiving is far less appealing than on a normal routine day. You have no time to think about that extra calories in those moments. Hitting the gym or jogging in the morning on a cold chilling winter doesn’t seem appealing at all even if it may affect your lifestyle changes goal.
Evidence-based researches have shown that people get motivated to adopt and maintain their lifestyle goals based on 2 types of reward system.
1.Hedonia; When lifestyle goal is associated with more superficial outcomes like you are looking good, losing weight, your wrinkles have reduced, your belly fat has reduced. These rewards are short-lived, gives you superficial pleasures and temporary satisfaction but lack a deeper meaning or a purpose. So, when you default your routine, may give you unhappiness as you will miss the superficial outcomes.
2.Eudaimonia: When your goal is attached to a more deeper meaning or a purpose, you tend to get motivated longer or even life long. In the process, lifestyle changes don’t become a forceful routine but instead, turn into spontaneous habits which gives you more lasting benefits. Emotions are mainly expressed due to the limbic brain. When we are deeply happy, contented, this feeling has a lasting memory in the structures amygdala and hippocampus. So, when you have a purpose, a satisfying meaning which gives happiness, attached to your lifestyle changes, you are always motivated to follow.
Some examples of different scenarios while attaching your lifestyle goal to a purpose :
A middle-aged woman has started to become physically active, taking her exercises regularly to build up more stamina to look after and play with her grandchildren.
A young loving husband who was obsessed with junk food and alcohol, have started to quit his habits and adapt to a healthy lifestyle for the sake of his wife and his newborn child.
A young man or a woman who had a past unhealthy way of eating, irregular routine start to adapt healthy eating and lifestyle for the sake of his/her career.
A doting grandfather starts taking care of his diet and maintains his routine physical activity so that his diabetes is better controlled and that he can be alive for a long time to spend his days with his growing grandchildren.
Attaching lifestyle goal with a purpose, not only help you in overall health-related aspects but have also other hidden rewards. You are more in charge of your life, you have self-acceptance and self-respect as an individual, believing yourself better, improved relationship with others and overall personal growth.