You might love leading a healthy lifestyle. You’re regular with your meals, exercise regularly and generally take care of your body. But what can you do if your children or your spouse don’t share your habits? How should you react when you see one or more family members who have unhealthy or counterproductive habits?

Parents face this dilemma often. They try to instill the best values in their children, but they’re not always successful. Sometimes, despite the best intentions of their parents, children fight, throw tantrums and are disagreeable. Husbands or wives can let themselves get woefully out of shape. If you’re part of such a family, it can be extremely exasperating. Here’s how you can deal with situations where your family members don’t share your healthy habits.

1. Change the way you think about this situation.

You have different priorities than the rest of your family. No matter how much you love your family or how much they love you, they are ultimately independent people. As people, they are free to make their own choices. Beyond a certain point, you have no control over their habits.

It’s tempting to think that everyone else should live their life the way you do, but that’s not under your control. If you let your happiness get affected by the habits of your family members, you’ll take on unnecessary stress. Instead, try to do the best you can for yourself. Offer compassion to your loved ones.

2. Lead by example.

Think of all of the times your parents admonished you during your teens for eating unhealthy food, drinking or adopting any other unhealthy habit. If you were like most other teenagers, having your parents specifically prohibit an activity probably drove you towards it more. It’s annoying to have people constantly tell you how to live your life.

If you’re a parent, you can instead choose to lead by example. If you’re healthy, look great and perform well physically, your loved ones might be inspired. Be the best example of the lifestyle you recommend. You may not win them over immediately, but eventually some of them will see that your way of life works. Then, you can have an honest conversation with them about the pros and cons of living like you do.

3. Try to create an environment which supports healthy habits.

You can inspire your family members to take up healthy habits by creating activities which require a certain physicality or fitness level. If your loved ones are surrounded by healthy stimuli constantly, they are more likely to take up some good habits for themselves.

– Encourage your kids to join you during your morning run or workout. Make it a fun activity for them.

– Organize family hiking and camping trips.

– Organize a biking trip to some picturesque destination.

– Take walks with them.

– Share interesting and informative articles and books with them.

– Talk to them about your inspirations and motivation in a non-patronizing way.

Subtlety is the key to influencing your family members to take up healthy habits. Don’t pressure or push them into doing anything. Suggest activities instead of issuing ultimatums. Don’t take it personally when they don’t do the things you’re asking them to. If you really want to help them, empower them to make their own decisions and then let them choose.