Everyone’s struggling — at least a little bit.
Maybe it’s the world I inhabit, but I don’t see too many people who feel like they’re smashing it out of the park.
That’s partly because people are under a lot of stress. But it’s also because everyone wants to do more, have more, be more. And, when you’re on that hamster wheel, it’s pretty hard to get off.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to make your life as good as it can be. In fact, it’s an excellent goal.
But a good life is not just a Big Grab for all you can get. It’s about piling some energy into the basics of everyday living. Which is easier, kinder and — ultimately — will take you further.
Here are the daily habits most worth cultivating.
7 Habits For a Happier, Healthier Life
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius
1. Start your day the night before.
“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States
We all know some of the very best days of our lives start with no plan. And some of the very best activities are those that come from nowhere. Which is cool — and fun, when those things happen. But it’s unhelpful psychologically to live in free-fall, never knowing what the days will bring. All of us — and especially those who are struggling with their mental health — can benefit from having structure/routines.
So plan your day the night before. Write it down, not in glorious detail (that would be tedious) just a rough outline. Don’t have 107 things on your to-do list either. Five things is fine.
2. Anchor your morning — simply.
“ You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar.
Morning routines are a fine thing if you have the time AND you are wired that way. But they can also be onerous and stressful — especially if you’re already time-deprived and you’ve been awake half the night overthinking everything. So just lock in one thing that tells you a new day has begun. A morning coffee. Making your bed. A 5-minute exercise routine. Writing in a journal. Prayer. Meditation. Something that you enjoy or makes you feel good or brings you comfort — and do every day, regardless of how you feel. It’ll anchor you psychologically and help you enter the day feeling more settled.
3. One good chat a day, keeps the blues away (Or at least helps.)
“Night air, good conversation and a sky full of stars can heal almost any wound.” Beau Taplin
Human interaction is well-documented as helpful — even crucial — to the quality of life. But in a fractured society, where working from home (or in isolation) is now a bona fide “thing”, many people are low on opportunities for quality interaction.
A lot of the stuff that pours from our lips is domestic, trivia, logistical or mechanical: It’s necessary to get through the day, but it doesn’t do much for our sense of wellbeing. But a good conversation — or banter — will boost your mood. Aim for one a day. Any more than that is a big win.
4. Turn on your creativity tap — one hour a day.
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” —Jack London
Business researcher and author Jim Collins may well be the guru of personal data tracking: he aims for 1,000 creative hours for every 365-day block — even if he’s sick or super-busy. Yes, he puts it all on a spread sheet. It’s one of his keys to leading a fulfilling life.
This level of tracking is beyond most of us, but it’s a cool idea. Creativity is so helpful for our psychological health and — if you’re a creative person — you’ll be miserable if you don’t find time for it. So just aim for one hour of creative pursuit each day and track it on your phone or in a diary. You don’t have to get out the easel and paint like Picasso. If you’re thinking or learning, it counts.
5. Your body is worth more than bitcoin.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” — Jim Rohn
Forget bitcoin, or even your bank account, for a bit. There’s one investment that’s worth more than those. Your body is home to your spirit, to all that you are. It’s also your personal shop window: that’s what the world sees. Hopefully clothed. So it demands — and deserves — good care.
Daily exercising is great if you can manage it. But, for most of us, it’s hard to work out every single day. And there’s also that mental barrier (aka, we really don’t want to). But there are other ways to treat your body well. Bathe it, pamper it, put lotions on it, dress it well. Even feeding it something healthy counts.
6. Track your laughter.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” — Irish Proverb
I don’t mean write down every time you laugh. That would be weird and undermine the whole purpose of having fun. But make sure there’s some laughter in your life.
When people are depressed, they’ll often say they’ve lost their sense of humour — or that sense of lightness. Their laughter feels dry and a little forced. They know they’re feeling better when it comes back. Don’t force yourself to be positive but find ways to stay light of spirit. It makes everything seem better.
7. Be a little idle.
“My mind works in idleness. To do nothing is often my most profitable way.” — Virginia Woolf.
Hyper-productivity is still seen as aspirational and — yes — a busy day or period in your life can feel great. But cramming your days full of activity is exhausting and mentally unhealthy. So carve out time for yourself. Just to think or read or dream or stare into the void. Often, our best ideas spring from idleness. So find a way to take your foot off the pedal and just hang out. If nothing else, your mind and body will appreciate the break.
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