When you get up every day, you usually run through a ritual to prepare yourself for the day or night ahead. There’s a good chance that you rush to get something down your throat, whether it’s a coffee, food or a cigarette. It’s possible that you spend some time in front of the mirror, looking and adjusting this way and that until you are either happy enough with the result or late enough that it doesn’t matter anymore. If you have a family, you might give them a wave as you head out the door, or a push as you herd them off to wherever they need to be. You settle in for the long commute, go through the motions of the day and look forward to the time you can relax again. When that time comes around, you sit and wonder why it is that you’re not as happy and relaxed as you thought you were going to be. Sound familiar?
A lot of habits are formed out of necessity, in response to the situation each person is in, unconsciously becoming the norm over time. If you want to exert a little control over your day and your mood, you can adopt some new habits or modify existing ones.
The above scenarios usually arise when there is a rush, whether it’s sorting yourself out or taking care of someone else. It’s hard to take a moment when there seems like there are none to spare. Stress follows, leading to problems with mood, anxiety and general well-being, and this can also rub off on those around you. Starting the day in a lousy mood usually leads to a miserable few hours until you get home to find you’re still feeling down. If only you could have begun the day a little better…
Taking even five minutes to meditate, pray, look out the window, reflect on your team’s victory the night before, or just to gather your thoughts with your mouth hanging open, can make a huge difference. Being mindful can help you to approach the rest of the day with a little more calm and a touch more mental fortitude than before. That’s something that everyone could do with in their lives, surely.
After you’ve taken your time to practice a little mindfulness, take an extra few minutes and put together a plan for the day ahead. Philosophers might tell you that life happens whether you plan for it or not, but having even a rough sketch of what you want to get done is better than nothing at all. Jot down a loose plan of the day in front of you, or meticulously award precious minutes to things worthy of your time the night before. Whatever it is, getting your plans out of your head and recorded somewhere will unclutter your mind.
Worrying about what you might have forgotten, or missing something important and freaking out about it can never be pleasant, so it makes sense to give yourself an advantage over the coming day. When you check off the last item on the list, you’ll have the much better sensation of being satisfied with what you’ve done. This is a bonus on top of the benefits of actually doing the thing you wanted or needed to do.
So you’re handling the day with a Zen attitude and punching through your to-do list like it was paper. If you want to keep up the good work and the good vibes, you’ll need to fuel the machine. The food and drink that you consume have effects that go beyond your waist size. Your body is a complicated and fascinating thing, with intricate systems in place to keep it functional. Our digestive system is one of the most advanced on the planet, so it would be a shame to keep attacking it with processed junk and carbonated sugar.
Speaking of being closer together, something that people forget to do sometimes is enjoy the company of others. Making time to spend with family and friends is a solid tactic to improve happiness. Our social natures reward us for being in close proximity with those close to us, and through interaction, we can solve problems, alleviate anxiety and perhaps most importantly, have a good laugh. Keep in mind, it’s also important to make time for yourself, and to avoid letting other people take it from you unnecessarily.
Picking up new habits can be a slow affair. Old habits, ones that have stood by us for years, can be tough to break and shake off, and may not leave much room for better ones. The best option is to keep trying, to keep pushing at your daily life until you make room. Make tiny changes that will lead to you being a happier person.
Because in the end, what do you really want? Your old habits, or to be happy?