The other day I had an epiphany while I was drying my hair. As usual, my thoughts were all over the place, jumping from personal reminders to work tasks to anticipated conversations to goal setting for 2016. I was debating whether I would make an official list of my goals for 2016, but as I mentally went through my list I realized that something was still missing.
After some careful thought, it hit me. I’ve focused so much on big, time-consuming goals and aspirations that I’ve forgotten about many of the simple, daily habits that create happiness in my life! In fact, life has felt a bit chaotic and unorganized for some time now, and it’s because I’ve let a lot of these daily habits slide. As I stood there blasting my hair, I realized I need to change my focus. What’s the point of setting goal after goal if the process itself doesn’t feel peaceful? Rather than plough ahead with tunnel vision locked only on the goals, this year I’m going to make room for the daily habits that bring me consistent joy – the ones that I haven’t allowed myself to make time for in a long while. I’m going to call these my “Daily Habits for Happiness”, and I truly believe that this approach can change my life.
What do I mean by daily habits for happiness? It’s anything that you can easily accomplish in your day to day life that makes you feel really good. These are often things that we brush off or let fall by the wayside because they aren’t given as much priority or importance as other things, but their potential to improve our quality of life is HUGE!
There are many things that I’m doing successfully each day (such as dedicated family time, exercise, etc), but there are many things that I can start doing to increase happiness quite easily. Here are some that I came up with. This list is a work in progress, and I’ll be adding to it as I see fit.
Make my bed each morning
I haven’t taken the time to make the bed consistently in the morning for umm….years? Since my mama told me to? In my defense, Eric doesn’t make it consistently either! The thing is, having my bed made in the morning makes me feel quite accomplished, but I’ve always told myself that other tasks are much more important and “I don’t have time”. Well, no more! It doesn’t actually take very long, but it sets the tone for the whole day and I feel like the reward outweighs any time spent on it. (I fear that I may fail miserably with this habit, but 3 days into 2016 I’m still on a killer bed making streak!!)
Shift workouts back to the morning
Speaking of convincing myself (or even bribing myself) – morning workouts! Because our schedule was so unpredictable last year (and still is at times), I shifted many of my workouts to the evening after Adriana went to bed. It seemed like the best time of the day for minimal interruptions (sleep regressions aside), but I started to really miss having restorative downtime at night. I recently started shifting my workouts back to the morning. I have Eric to thank for motivating me because he’s been rocking the early morning workouts with his buddy for a while. It’s challenging for me to workout first thing, but I always feel great when I do it. (If you’re curious – I’m doing a combo of running on my treadmill and online Barre workouts right now. I hope to add an in-person weekly barre or yoga class to my routine soon.)
It’s amazing how much toys can take over our living room and kitchen area during the day (and how many times I manage to trip or hurt myself). We got into the habit of leaving the toys scattered all over the house because we were too tired to put them away before bed. But it really makes a huge difference to come out to a tidy room in the morning, rather than chaos. Now we do a quick tidy up after she goes down at night. It takes just a minute or two, but it makes me so happy to walk out in the morning and see a semi-tidy room (even if it doesn’t last!). The same goes for daily tidying other areas of the house…a quick vacuum in the kitchen and dining area does wonders for my mood.
Eric and I recently decided to disable the push notification setting on our Gmail accounts. I can’t take credit – it was his idea and I jumped on board. No longer will I be alerted every time an email pops into my inbox (which can feel disruptive and stressful – especially when it’s during the evening or on weekends). For years I’ve worked all hours of the day and on weekends. This year, email notifications are turned off and I’m checking email at dedicated times during working hours. Obviously, there will be times when I will have to break this rule, but I aim to make them far and few between.
I also find that staying on top of unsubscribing from emails and filtering out spam helps on the email front. I did it last year and it made a huge difference. I want to keep up with both of these daily habits this year.
Relaxed lunch + tea/coffee rituals
Adriana shifted from 2 naps to 1 nap a day in November. Now she goes down for her afternoon nap between 12-1pm each day. I used to eat my lunch while feeding her lunch, but I rarely got to enjoy my lunch before it got cold, or I just scarfed it down in record time without truly enjoying it. I can’t blame her though, I used to work through my lunches for years before she was born. Recently, I’ve started to make my lunch after she goes down for her nap. I find that it’s a lot more rejuvenating for me to have this downtime mid-day. I also aim to have a morning, afternoon, and evening coffee/tea/tonic ritual too.
Connecting with friends/family
This could be a lunch with a friend, a date with my coach, a late dinner at home with Eric, a girl’s get together, or a simple phone call. These connections increase happiness a lot, especially during the winter when it’s easy to hibernate.
I’m not forgetting about my big goals for 2016 because there are many that I’m super excited about. However, this year I’m making time for the “smaller” things that help me feel balanced, peaceful, and organized on a day to day basis. This is the year that the small becomes the big. I’d love it if you joined along with me!
Cheers to 2016, friends. I hope it’s off to a great start in your neck of the woods!
Photo credit: Sandy Nicholson