The Habits that Changed My Life
A blessed Easter to all of you this weekend!
Of course I struggle with bad habits, as we all do. But like brushing and flossing, washing my hands, and saying "please," I have plenty of positive habits that make my daily life better.
Sometimes it's good to focus on what we're doing right, rather than continually trying to self-improve. These are the habits I'm proud of.
1. I read every day.
This habit started in first grade and I've maintained it forever after. I read fiction and non-fiction books, some news, and favorite blogs. I always encounter food for thought and inspiration.
2. I write every day.
My goal is one sentence, which I can do no matter what else is going on that day, but I usually write much more. This habit has led to letters, gratitude journals, blogging, and writing books (I've published eight so far).
3. I pray every day.
I concentrate on offering prayers of thanks, although of course I ask God for help, guidance, and forgiveness as well. But once I start thinking of things to be grateful for, so many blessings come to mind! It's hard to feel depression or self-pity, even during hard times, when you have a habit of praying with thanksgiving. This has turned into a habit of thanking people as well, which goes a long way toward strengthening relationships.
4. "If it only takes one minute, do it now!"
This is a habit I learned from my dad. So many things fall into the "one minute" category: hanging up my jacket or clothes, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wiping up the bathroom mirror and counter after using the sink, putting my book or the TV remote or my crochet project away before bed, tidying, sorting mail, and more. So many tasks take only a minute or two, but if I procrastinate or neglect them altogether pretty soon I'm surrounded by piles and clutter.
One minute makes all the difference.
5. I drink water first.
I drink a full glass of water before I eat or drink anything else at a meal. This is good for hydration, and it fills me up so I eat less junk.
6. I eat veggies first.
This habit started in childhood because I didn't like vegetables. I knew I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I had eaten them, so I'd get them out of the way first so I could enjoy the rest of my meal. Today, even though I like most vegetables, I still eat a salad, some veggie-heavy soup, or the broccoli on my plate first. That way I know I've had quality nutrition, and I'm a bit fuller before I start on my main course.
7. I (need to) exercise every day.
Studies show that even 10 minutes of intense daily exercise (whatever gets you breathing heavily and your heart rate up) improves fitness and metabolism. I have let this habit lapse during the pandemic, and it shows! I really do have less stamina and energy. It's a habit I want to renew.
8. I say "I love you" to all the important people.
I tell my husband, kids, grandkids, parents, close friends, etc. that I love them at least once every time I am with them (or send an email or whatever). We can never say it enough! Even if we're upset with each other, we can still say, "We might not agree, but I love you."
9. I sing every day.
For decades I was an opera singer, so I sang every day, even if it was simply 5 or 10 minutes of vocal exercises. It not only improved my skills, range, breath, and vocal agility, but constant practice gave me poise and confidence as a performer. If you want to do anything at the highest level of your ability, you must do it every day.
10. I (must) get out in nature every day.
This is one other habit I've let slide during the pandemic. I admit I've spent too many days in my pajamas, simply because I had nowhere to go. But fresh air (especially in the early morning), trees, birds, and the sky ALWAYS lift my spirits and make me feel more awake and glad to be alive. We need nature, and I need to stop denying it to myself.
Think about which daily habits have been valuable for you, and whether there are any you would like to start cultivating this spring. Please share in the comments if you'd like.
Photo by Jonathan Hanna on Unsplash