Shifting from unhealthy to healthy habits can feel like a real challenge, but it’s not impossible, as a new book we recently received reminds.
The title is WILD Habits, by Tara Mackey, who follows up on her previous book, Cured by Nature, to explain how she overcame the odds and created a healthful, grounded life – and to share the wisdom she gained along the way.
Born to a drug-addicted mother, Mackey spent years on a path of chemical dependencies and struggles with a bipolar diagnosis, addiction, self-harm, and eventually a suicide attempt. By college, she was taking 8 different prescription drugs each day. By age 21, that increased to 10 and shortly after to 12.
Yet the skills Mackey developed through her journey to creating her best life aren’t just helpful for grappling with addiction. They can be applied in everyday life by anyone who wishes to ditch the negative and embrace the positive.
WILD Habits explores methods of conquering feelings of powerlessness and taking charge of your health.
“Every morning,” writes Mackey,
I took my pills, but I never thought about what I was doing to my body, my mind, or my spirit with this little ritual.
This same morning ritual is followed by 70 percent of Americans. That many people are on at least one pharmaceutical drug. Thirty-five percent of Americans are taking two or more Rx drugs. Antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioids are most common on the list. That’s three in every five folks—all taking heavy-duty pharmaceutical drugs.
Although Mackey chose to quit the drugs cold turkey and detox on her own, she doesn’t recommend that route for others. Rather, navigating the change with a physician’s guidance can make that stage of the journey less harrowing, while also ensuring that health issues don’t get ignored in the process. For although she notes that all of her chronic diagnoses “miraculously” faded as she took charge of her health, that isn’t the case in all situations. All too often, simply cutting out meds can actually make things worse – hence, the need for medical guidance.
Later in the book, Mackey offers a series of exercises to help you recognize behaviors that may be dragging down your health. The reader is encouraged to list bad habits and addictions ranging from nail-biting to full-blown drug addiction, and meditate on the reasons for those habits.
That awareness makes it easier to move into replacement.
Explore the reasons you partake in the three harmful habits you recognized earlier. Again, be honest with yourself. We are now looking at ourselves without judgment, because this is the way to truly change. Facing your harmful habits may instantly reveal a new, helpful layer to your life.
Mackey also suggests healthier options to replace those harmful habits and encourages the reader to select three new “WILD habits” to practice over the next 30 days.
And just what, pray tell, is a WILD habit? Her acronym stands for Willingness, Intuition, Love, and Discipline – the pillars of how to cultivate the best habits and desires.
Other practical exercises and techniques are offered for exploring change within yourself. Fill-in-the-blank sections are sprinkled throughout, along with tips for journaling and applying simple, healthy practices in daily life.
Despite any skepticism that may be lobbed toward Mackey’s Cinderella story, the underlying principals may well help you turn self-limiting behaviors into a thing of the past as you embrace healthier, holistic options in creating the positive, affirmative life you deserve.