Through constant familiarity, we can definitely establish new behavior patterns, using our tendency to form habits to our advantage. If we make a steady effort, I think we can overcome any form of negative conditioning and make positive changes in our lives.- Dalai Lama

Lots of people focus on overcoming bad habits. But they rarely give as much thought as they should to developing good ones. A habit can be said to be a positive one if it improves the quality of your life in some way. So developing them can only be a good thing. But what are the best positive habits to adopt? While there are no hard and fast rules and everyone is different here is a look at seven positive habits if adopted can make a real difference in almost anyone’s life.

Make Sleep More of a Priority

Sleep is one of the most overlooked ways you can improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Those who do not get enough sleep – seven to eight hours for adults – can be more prone to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, more likely to get into an accident or perform poorly at work and are more likely to suffer memory loss. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to weight gain.

Are those enough reasons for you to make getting enough sleep a priority? If not, we could offer more. Even if you are busy, set a bedtime and stick to it. Make sure that you turn off all devices – including your cell phone – at least an hour before bed to help your mind ‘shut down’ and get ready for sleep. If you need extra help getting to sleep, sip a cup of warm tea – chamomile is a great choice, – ensure your room is not too hot or cold (experts say 66-68F is ideal) and you can even consider making use of a white noise machine, as while they don’t help everyone, some people find them very effective.

Read for Sixty Minutes a Day

Maybe you don’t think you have time to read. Or you were never a big fan of reading in the first place. And it is so much easier to slip into an hour of mindless television at the end of a long hard day.

But by reading for just sixty minutes a day you will sharpen your cognition, improve your concentration and, in a nutshell, exercise your mind. If you have younger children, read with them, as there is a lot to be said for a family reading session. You’ll also find that, once you get into the habit of reading that you can use books to take you away from the stresses of the day for a while, which is one of the rather magical things about books.

Start Keeping a Diary

Keeping a diary may sound like something that really only angsty teenagers do but that is far from true. Like reading, keeping a diary is a great exercise for the brain in general but it is also a way to help you process your own thoughts and feelings in a positive way. And as any long term diarist can tell you rereading what you write years later is a great way not only to remind you of the past but also, if you are taking steps to improve your life, how far you’ve come.

Take a Walk, Every Day

Sitting in the same place for too long isn’t just boring, it also gets in the way of your thinking. People have long instinctively taken walks as a way to clear their heads, and it turns out that they had the right idea all along. Research shows that walking promotes high-quality creative thinking, whether it’s done on a treadmill or outdoors, by allowing ideas to flow more freely.

For those who think they do not have time to do this, resolve to find time. Just after lunch is a good choice, as it can help prevent the feeling of afternoon drowsiness many of us suffer from.

Take Better Care of Your General Health

Your good health is one of your most valuable assets, and one you would miss very much if it were gone. As busy as we all are, it really does pay to not only make sure you get medical attention when you need it but also that you do more to prevent illness and injury in the first place.

It does take time to learn to live more healthily. Many of the ‘habits’ listed here will help as will the basics like following a healthier diet and get that annual check up with your GP.

Save at Least 30% of Your Income

30% may sound like a lot, but with a solid budget, and a little more discipline when it comes to choosing what you spend your money on saving 30% of your income is not as hard as it sounds. You should do more than just stash your money away in a simple savings account, though. Put at least some of it to work for you in a more proactive way, especially when it comes to saving for retirement.

Be More Present

There are many benefits to trying to live more in the present. Often we are dashing from one event or job to another. We are constantly planning what we have to do next, what we have to remember and where we need to be, who we need to call and forget to actually enjoy today. You don’t have to do anything fancy, just stop worrying so much about what might be, or what happened, and enjoy today while it’s here.

Meditation can be very effective to help develop this habit. Meditation is the practice of being totally present and aware of the current moment. The key to broadening our sense of ourselves and developing our connection to life is to pay attention. Meditation teaches us how to pay attention to our lives and how to be fully present in each moment. It also teaches us how to liberate ourselves from the anguish that thought causes. Meditation achieves this by allowing us to be totally present in each moment as it is, rather than by creating fresh or unique sensations. We don’t so much change or better things as we awaken from our thoughts and judgements to life as it is, since life is not what we think.