5 Simple Daily Practices That Will Transform Your Life
Maybe you’re looking for a radical shift in your life, a total 180 from where you are now. Or maybe you’re just looking to continually become a better you, to be constantly growing & evolving. Wherever you fall, transformation doesn’t have to be complicated.
You don’t have to do something radical to make a radical change, and you also don’t have to be at rock bottom or deep in a depression to start integrating life-changing practices into your days. Turning things around or making huge strides in your personal growth doesn’t have to take years or even months. In fact, it can take just a few days and just a few simple practices.
My challenge to you is to commit to these 5 daily practices for 5 days and note any changes in your:
- emotional state
- physical wellness
- work performance
or any other noticeable areas in your life. If you’re someone who feels “burdened” or annoyed by the integration of personal development/“self-help” practices (i.e. as if things like this are “homework assignments,” bogus hocus pocus/woo-woo things, or “one-more-thing-to-forget-to-do-and-feel-bad-about”) — just trust me. It’s 5 days, and when I say simple, I mean simple.
1. I’m Happy Because
Starting your day by finishing the sentence, “I’m happy because…” is an easy way to start your day on a positive note. By forcing your mind to think of just one thing you’re happy about before you begin your day, you’re priming yourself to dig through all the potential reasons you could be happy, rather than going through a list of reasons why you could be dreading the day.
Instead of waking up thinking, “Another day, another dollar,” or “I really don’t feel like going to work today,” start waking up thinking things like, “I’m happy because I have fun lunch plans today,” “I’m happy because the sheets are clean,” or “I’m happy because the weather is nice today.”
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It just has to be something you’re happy about. When you wake up happy, you’re much more likely to go to work happy, do your work happy, come home happy & just be happy overall. It starts small, and it starts early.
Make this a habit by tying it to something you do every single morning. Put a note by the coffee pot. Stick a post-it note on your steering wheel. Commit to doing it as you brush your teeth. Whatever you have to do, wake up happy.
2. Five in 10
Taking 10 seconds in any environment to ask yourself:
- “What do I see?”
- “What does it smell like?”
- “What can I feel?”
- “What do I hear?”
- “What do I taste?”
is an instant way to become vividly present. We talk a lot about “being present” these days, but it’s actually quite difficult for many of us to do in a world of distractions and a culture obsessed with busy-ness. And besides the difficulty level, what does “being present” actually mean?
It means genuinely being wherever you are: knowing where you are, being aware of where you are. Not just “knowing” factually, but “knowing” intimately — the way you know a friend. If you were to close your eyes right now, for example, how well could you describe the physical space around you?
The last time I did the “Five in 10” exercise, I noticed an entire streetlamp on a walkway I walk multiple times everyday. When we force ourselves to be observant through a concrete task — like working through the 5 senses — we become present without focusing on “being present.” Presence is merely a by-product of “sensing” your way through your environment, and through this practice, it takes jsut 10 seconds. I don’t know many more extraordinary gifts besides that of being truly present that can happen in 10 seconds or less.
3. “I Am” Affirmations
If you’ve heard of this “affirmation” business before & kind of laughed it off or rolled your eyes — me too. In the personal development, entrepreneurship, emotional wellness & “healthy” lifestyle worlds, affirmations are almost always a top recommendation to those seeking self-improvement. But honestly, they sounded pretty corny and hokey to me the first time I heard of them.
“How is just saying positive things to myself actually going to bring about a change in my life, my business, my emotional well-being? This feels silly.”
It did feel silly at first, like some sort of incantation.
But when I noticed it was working, it got less silly. (Still maintains incantation qualities, but if casting a spell on myself helps transform my self-image, generate more legitimate business, and make me happier overall — you best believe I’ll do some witchcraft!)
Here’s the thing: most of us operate on the total opposite mode of “positive affirmations” on a daily basis. We look in the mirror and think:
“Well, here we go again… man I really don’t feel like going to work today… oh my gosh, those bags under my eyes… and I hate these pants for the way my belly hangs over them… I actually hate all of my clothes…”
And how does that work out for us? We end up having mediocre (at best) days, dragging through the daily grind, feeling self-conscious and caught up in a constant comparison-battle between ourselves and the people around us, feeling insignificant, average and maybe even downright depressed.
But it’s no wonder! If engaging in “negative affirmations” on a daily basis leads to this type of living, why wouldn’t “positive affirmations” evoke a similar response in the opposite direction?
The other hang-up I had with affirmations was what the heck to say. What will I say to myself if I don’t remark on my flaws & complain? Here are some examples of “I Am” Affirmations I say/think to myself:
- “I’m a nice person.”
- “I’m a hard worker at work.”
- “I am helpful around the house.”
- “I’m physically strong.”
- “I am capable of making big things happen.”
- “I am inspiring to others.”
You don’t have to necessarily vocalize them if that gives you anxiety (although it is quite powerful) but I would recommend saying/thinking them while you’re looking in the mirror, getting dressed or just brushing your teeth because that visual connection with yourself does some other type of woo-woo witchcraft that I swear works wonders.
Changing your self-talk to kindness instead of critique changes so many other things in your world, too. Try it.
More and more research about the power of being socially connected is being conducted, and studies are showing how important it is, not only to our happiness but also to our success, to have strong social connections to the world around us.
Isolation and disconnect are some of the largest predictors of negative behavior or actions in all humans, not just children, and if we look at the lives of many criminals or psycopaths, we almost always see a pattern of social-disconnect.
I’m not saying you’re a murderer if you don’t have a huge web of friends, but I am saying you’re probably unhappy if you feel alone. Having friendships, familial bonds, meaningful conversations and engaging interactions with others is vital to our happiness as individuals and also our collective happiness, which is why “Impact” is a crucial daily practice.
Think of “Impact” like simply causing a ripple in the metaphorical pond of someone else’s life. You don’t need to drop a boulder in the water to have an “impact” or make a ripple — you just need to tap the surface. Even a small gesture can go a long way, not just in their world but in yours, too.
Saying “Hey, how’s it going?” to the person checking the mail beside you, genuinely thanking your barista, waving at the man on the corner with the cardboard sign, or setting out with the intention to just make someone else smile — these are all small acts that impact someone else’s day.
When we make it a priority and a habit to positively impact someone else’s day, we:
- satisfy the human need for social connectedness
- boost our own sense of worth by doing something kind for someone else
- help another person feel good
- create a ripple effect for that person to impact someone else’s day.
The value of Impact is inversely proportionate to its level of difficulty. You don’t need to do anything huge. You may not even need to do anything differently than you already do. You could be impacting people everyday without even noticing it. Notice it. Prioritize it. It does way more than you think.
“Things That Went Well” is an end-of-the-day reflection practice, typically done post-journaling / pre-Netflix for me. Some days it’s hard. I think back through all the chaos, cancellations, meetings and wasted time and I’m tempted to shut the whole thing down and call it a “Nothing Went Well Today” Day.
However, if you actually commit to doing this one, you train your brain to seek out the good parts of your day — however big or small. Sometimes the “Things That Went Well” list looks like this:
- My eyebrows looked even.
- It didn’t rain.
- I got a new library book.
That’s okay. You’re allowed to have bad days. The point of this exercise is not to eliminate bad days and pretend $h!t doesn’t happen. The point is to dig through the $h!t and find the good thigns. There’s always something kind of good, and when we focus on those things, we actually evoke positive sensations, memories and responses in our brains.
Another powerful aspect of this exercise is the reflective property. Many of us reflect on our days (or lives) before we fall asleep, running through the list of stressors and anxieties and trying to fight them all before we wake up and face them again tomorrow. We’re good at reflecting — forwards and backwards. What we’re not so great at is reflecting positively, which is what this practice trains you to do.
Imagine it like patting yourself on the back 3–5 times before you fall asleep, or bashing yourself on the head 3–5 times before you fall asleep. Pretty obvious which is the more beneficial practice.
The “TTWW” practice is similar to a gratitude practice (much like #1: I’m happy because…) but it helps you approach gratitude from a different angle. You can list things you personally accomplished (I got a new client! I made a delicious dinner!) or you can list things that are completely independent of you but that still bring you joy (It was not hair-frizzingly humid today! I got a super fast gas pump!)
Whatever you want to put on your “TTWW” list is up to you. The point is that you spend the last part of your day thinking of good things from your day and not resurfacing the stressful or negative moments of your day.
Want more thoughts, life-advice, and quick tips from me? Sign up for my blog (or just come read some posts!) here: https://emilyjordan.me/the-line/ and leave a comment below letting me know which practice(s) you’re going to try out or any other daily practices you currently do!