“It’s the little things that count,” is more than a vapid cliche. When it comes to living life, it’s pretty relevant.
It’s the little things, the small habits that dictate our outlook, our relationships, and our overall well-being. And when you add all these little things up, they basically define us as people.
So I’ve put together a list of the simple habits that can change your life for the better. The beauty of these habits is that literally anyone is capable of adopting them, all that’s needed is a bit of effort and the right mindset.
Remember what Lao Zhu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (or habit).” Ready to change for the better? Let’s get to it!
1) Eat a balanced diet
They say, “You are what you eat.” Sure, it may not be literally true, but there is still a lot of truth to the statement.
If you regularly consume junk food, sugar, and takeout, you can expect a wider range of health issues to arise.
Eliminate the transfats, ice cream, and processed food from your diet and replace them with clean, lean, and leafy green items. Chances are you’ll feel a whole lot better soon enough, both physically and mentally.
Don’t overeat; go organic if possible. Take your vitamins.
Sure, allow yourself the occasional cheat day. But generally, be conscious of what you put in your body. It will take you a long way.
2) Be mindful of your thoughts
Here’s the thing: when we generally have a negative outlook on things then it affects our inner selves in a similarly negative way.
Our thoughts are powerful, so be mindful of them.
Try not to worry about things you have no control over or get anxious over a past blunder.
Try to be present in the moment and don’t let those intrusive thoughts get the better of you.
Once you are able to control and manage your thought processes, expect a better mood and less stress. These are two things that can lead to longer (and better quality) life.
3) Connect with others
Let’s face it, a bit of solitude can be nice, but to face life all alone is quite a daunting task. And an unnecessary one, frankly.
A sense of community and camaraderie with your fellow human is such a valuable thing.
So if you consider yourself a bit of a lone warrior, make an attempt to reach out to friends and family.
Or you can make new connections with like-minded individuals through activities like sports, support groups, volunteering, or simply even going to a bar and chatting with your seatmate.
So get out of your comfort zone, don’t be a recluse, and make some new connections. Or rekindle older ones!
Here’s the thing: meditation isn’t just for hippies and spiritual seekers, it’s become mainstream and for pretty good reason.
Meditation has the capability to clear the mind, improve focus, destress, and reduce anxieties considerably. It gives you a deep sense of peace and balance.
There are a number of meditation techniques and you have access to them all over the internet. There are meditation apps and countless articles and videos on YouTube, etc.
Meditation basically manifests positive emotions and thoughts… and who doesn’t want that?
Simply take some time each morning to dedicate to meditation. Embrace the tranquility and calm, focus on your breathing, and live in the moment–I assure you, you’ll be happier and healthier in no time!
5) Wake up early
From my experience, waking up early after a good night’s sleep is a serious morale booster.
Not only can you accomplish more and get more out of the day, but you will also feel good about yourself. Having a healthy routine tends to do this.
Personally, when I oversleep, I feel sort of crappy about myself.
Waking up late means starting the day on a less-than-ideal note, subconsciously knowing that you’ve missed precious hours to do productive activities.
Have an evening routine, then a morning one. Set your alarm, have a nourishing breakfast, do a bit of exercise, and meditate perhaps!
In other words, prioritize self-care. This brings me to my next point…
6) Practice self-care
Fun fact: self-care is extremely beneficial to your well-being.
Self-care means taking time daily to engage in something you truly enjoy or find relaxing, this can be in activities as basic as spending time with your kids or cooking dinner.
We live in a culture that now glorifies work and the “hustle.”
That’s fine and all, but don’t forget to do things that you find calming and fun at least once a day.
In this fast-paced world, we all could benefit from a bit more balance.
7) Regular reading
I’ll tell you this much, the brain is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
Find time to read things you enjoy but can also learn from–-novels, online articles (like this one), and non-fiction work.
Reading will make you a more well-rounded individual, equipped with valuable knowledge. And as a bonus, reading tends to reduce stress and can be therapeutic in its own right.
8) Practice kindness
It’s science, ladies and gents: kindness is good for your health.
Showing compassion and empathy to your fellow human being can go a long way.
Being able to put yourself in others’ shoes and feel their struggles makes you more in tune with the human condition.
Practice kindness by doing volunteer work, donating, or simply being courteous and thoughtful to your peers.
When you’re negative or pessimistic about the world, that’s the energy you attract and absorb. And vice-versa.
Being kind promotes happiness and reduces stress. We’re all in this journey called life together, we might as well be nice to one another.
9) Get enough sleep
As we’ve established above, don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.
Do you ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed after tossing and turning all night? It sets quite a precedent for the rest of your day.
Meanwhile, if you get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night regularly, your energy levels spike and you can get more out of life.
Make good sleep the norm.
10) Minimize the gadget usage
You’ve heard it before, and I’m here to say it again, turn off your gadgets or keep them out of reach at least half an hour before going to bed!
Pick up a good book instead. Insomniacs stare at a glaring screen with access to literally any piece of information known to humankind in their hands yet wonder why they can’t sleep.
Well, it isn’t rocket science. Put the gadgets away before hitting the sack.
I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac. I envy people who can peacefully sleep through the night unbothered.
I wake up several times a night. Before, I’d use this as an opportunity to check my phone.
And surprise, surprise, whatever mindless babble I’d see on that bright screen would keep me up for another couple of hours!
These days, when I wake up at 3 am, I don’t dare check my phone. I mindfully focus on going back to sleep. And sure enough, I’m back in dreamland shortly after.
11) Drink enough water
Just like mom used to say (or hopefully she did): hydrate!
Drinking an adequate amount of water may seem like such an afterthought that people don’t realize the wealth of benefits it has for us.
Drinking water plays a huge role in a number of key bodily functions from proper digestion to brain function to maintaining electrolyte balance!
It’s no coincidence that when you’re lacking water (perhaps after a big night out) that you feel dizzy and have a splitting headache.
Getting your daily water intake (aim for eight glasses a day) is such a basic, everyday but vital way to stay healthy and feel good!
I know people who never drink water, instead opting for sugary beverages like soda or heavily processed juices.
Sure, Coke Zero might not have calories but I hate to break it to you, it’s no substitute for good ol’ H2O–the good stuff.
12) Practice gratitude
I’ll be honest, our perspective really does change everything.
We may not realize it because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, but on paper, there’s probably a lot to be thankful for in our lives.
As long as you have food on the table and a decent support system, you’re doing better than most people.
So take a few moments every day to think and reflect on the things you’re grateful for in your life.
This can improve your overall happiness levels, reduce stress, and give you a sense of calm.
13) Exercise regularly
This one’s a no-brainer.
Exercise has countless benefits and will undoubtedly improve your life in many ways if you incorporate it into your life.
Living a sedentary lifestyle may seem like the easier option but in terms of making your life better, it’s time to get moving!
Exercise will reduce your risk for many health ailments, both minor and not-so-minor.
In addition, it is proven to stabilize mood, energy levels, and brain functions. And the cherry on top? You’ll lose weight and look good, which boosts your self-confidence.
So, if you aren’t already, start adding exercise to your routine. You don’t need an expensive gym membership. You can exercise for free by taking advantage of YouTube fitness vids or running through the neighborhood.
To recap, don’t overlook small habits and the fact that they can improve your life in a big way. With just a little bit of effort and commitment, and by making the right adjustments, you can have a drastically improved way of life in no time.
The time for change is now!