3 very simple — but powerful — things I do daily

People like “life-hacks”, I read them because it’s interesting to peek into someones daily routine. So I thought about what are the things I do daily that while on the surface I take for granted, but are actually very important to me.

Here they are — dull — but simple and easy to under appreciate.

  1. I write.

Maybe it’s something that will be read by thousands, or just myself — but every single day for as long as I remember — yes even as a kid — I’ve written something down.

I lost track of my journals, files, note cards, papers long ago. My life is a litter of tiny thoughts and it’s fun to stumble on them and see where my mind was once before.

I find writing therapeutic — not only do I get things done, I process my thoughts in a fluid way. When I write I do not “think” much, per-say — it just comes out and it feels freeing. I might not be the best writer, I don’t really care about that — I write the way I think and leave it at that.

It doesn’t have to be long, even a word or two, but the act of purposefully creating keeps me grounded in the moment to moment of passing time and thoughts.

2. I read.

I’m reading 20 books right now, none of them fiction — I don’t enjoy fiction — so I don’t force myself to read it. I like books of poetry, history, religion, science, medicine, business, health, psychology, yoga — a very eclectic collection.

Some books I’ve been reading off an off for over a decade. Again, this can be something as small as a sentence, but usually, I seek out reading that is interesting to me in the moment. I’m not someone who can stick to one book — I find that dull — so I read from many books, hop around to chapters, and take the approach that if I’m reading it now, it’s something I can learn from.

I love getting lost in Wikipedia and yesterday’s deep dive was into the world of wind and cloud formation.

I don’t spend longer than 15 minutes reading the same thing at a time. A paragraph here, a sentence there. To some, that probably sounds like I have an attention issue — I used to wonder that too, but I just find my mind enjoys the bounce from topic to topic because to me, they all actually connect.

Reading keeps me thinking beyond my own ego and helps me reflect back on myself.

3. I breathe on purpose.

As someone with a history of anxiety, learning how to breathe correctly saves me. There isn’t a 20 minute window that goes by where I don’t stop and purposefully breathe — right in to my belly, the kind of breathe that fills you up, and leaves your muscles relaxed after.

I trained myself to do this — I started in college when I was taking a Buddhism class. It took about a week to make the switch from “chest breath” to belly, and now 12 years later, I’m at the point where there is rarely a moment when I’m not aware of my breath. And if I’m not, I feel weird — disconnected — like I’m not breathing at all.

Attention to my breathe keeps my mind from wandering too far into the “spin cycle” zone — where your thoughts bounce off each other and I feel trapped in rumination. I hate that zone, it makes me feel terrible inside. It sounds so simple, but purposeful breathing helps me stay centered and I appreciate that.