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Simple Habits that Will Change Your Life

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Who wants an easy way to make life much simpler?

I know I do…For. Sure.

Life can be so complicated and busy! Every day is filled with figuring out how to schedule the day for our entire family and how to fit it all in and how to get it all done. And sometimes little things fall by the wayside because we just don’t have enough time, even when we KNOW those little actions would help us be happier and less stressed.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just make those simple yet important actions automatic?

We can! It’s all about picking up habits. Habits help us work smarter, rather than harder. They help us stop worrying about all the things we NEED to do, and even lighten our workload—now that’s win-win in my book!

Learning about the Power of Habit changed my life. Here’s how it works: as actions are repeated and rewarded, we gain a Pavlovian (automatic) response. So, after a certain amount of time, our actions become routine. Think about it like brushing your teeth or putting on your pajamas. These little actions become so automatic you probably don’t even think about doing them! They just happen.

Keep in mind that most changes happen gradually, so creating habits can take time to become routine. I know I’ve tried to make too many sweeping changes right off the bat, and then ended up super frustrated and disheartened when all my changes didn’t stick. Or, I tried to pick up habits that made me miserable or weren’t important. Guess what? Yup, those didn’t stick either!

Instead, try to focus on just one or two new routines at a time until they become automatic, then incorporate a few more when you’re ready. Focus only on habits that make you feel good and really help make your life easier.

This post is a continuation of my 10 Simple Habits That Just Might Change Your Life post—so you might want to check that one out, too. Here are 6 MORE simple habits you can adopt today to really change your life!

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1. Say “I Love You”

This one may seem obvious, but when it comes to maintaining happy marriages and great relationships with our children (and even our pets), nothing beats a sincere “I love you” each and every day.

When we say the words “I love you,” we’re telling the person we care about how we feel in a clear manner. We may show them all the time, but it’s true: we all need to hear those three little words to feel truly fulfilled and connected.

While “I love you” should always be said in sincerity, sometimes in the day-to-day hustle of life we can forget to say it or overlook it. If you feel “I love you” has been missing from your regular vocabulary, make it a habit to say it to your loved ones at bedtime, first thing in the morning, or as you leave for work. Saying “I love you” at least once a day just makes life more…lovely!

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2. Smile

Even for the most light-hearted among us, putting on a happy face can be a challenge sometimes. That’s why it really does require practice to make smiling a regular habit. Smiling is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress. When you smile, you actually become happier and feel better (even if you’re faking it until you make it). When I’m frustrated or annoyed with something (it may seem counterintuitive or cheesy, I know), I try to give a little smile to see if I can boost my mood. I’m always surprised just how well this works!

When you meet someone for the first time, offer up a smile. Practice smiling at strangers at the store, on the street, or in your day-to-day interactions with others. I get that this can initially seem sort of uncomfortable, but eventually you might be surprised how it changes your interactions and puts others at ease around you.

Try smiling at your kids, your spouse or your friends and see what happens. Sometimes people are truly starved for a smile and a warm nod. Give them encouragement and a try a little grin now and again.

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3. Look for the Positive in the UGH

This is a tough one, but I promise it’s worth it. The next time you’re dealing with a negative “ugh” situation, try to reframe it into a positive learning experience. When I’m faced with a problem or when something unexpected happens, I always try to think, “Wow, what a great opportunity to learn!” (…even if I’m saying it through clenched teeth—which yes, happens more often than I’d like to admit!)

When my car won’t start (ugh), I try to reframe the situation into something like: “I’m going to learn how to use jumper cables” or “This situation is a great chance for me to practice my emergency preparedness skills.”

Try thinking about what you can learn or take away from each interaction. If you’re waiting in a long line, try watching a video tutorial on your phone or catching up on a little reading. If you’re stuck in the car, use your hands-free to catch up on a phone call with an old friend or listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Approach each experience in life as an opportunity to learn and grow. You’ll be amazed at how this approach can change your outlook on…well, everything!

4. Check in on Your Goals

Many of us use a “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to our goals. Instead, try to make reviewing your goals an every-morning habit. Whether it’s your to-do list, your meal planning goals, your budget goals, or otherwise, checking in with yourself in the morning helps set the tone of your day.

Personally, I couldn’t find a way to set meaningful goals and focus on achieving them. Between running all over the place with my girls and running a business—getting my goals in order and getting anything accomplished felt super hard, if not impossible. That’s why I created the Living Well Planner™ to help me calm the chaos of being a busy mom and get my goals, dreams and plans down all in one place. It’s more than just a schedule organizer…it’s helped me organize my life! If you’re ready to CRUSH your goals and make YOUR dreams a priority, I just have to recommend my planner!

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5. Read

It’s no secret…I love reading! Books are amazing. As a writer, I’m often deeply inspired by the works of others and I really enjoy reading both fiction and nonfiction. Reading is a rewarding habit and a way to escape, retreat, relax and rejuvenate. It can help us become smarter, more informed, more articulate and more interesting. …did I mention I love reading??

Try to make it a habit to pick up a book (or even a magazine, if you prefer) every day. Set aside a certain amount of time at the same time every day to ensure you go from casual reader to regular reader. Even if you spend only ten minutes a day reading before you fall asleep, it can make a huge impact on your life. It may even help you sleep better (but I do find it’s best to go with paper books over my Kindle when I’m in bed).

Choose books that uplift you and hold your interest. Rather than opting for books that leave you feeling empty, push your boundaries and look for books that help you learn, stretch your imagination, and keep you interested and engrossed from cover to cover. Try reading the book BEFORE you see the movie, or, if you loved the movie, try enhancing the experience by reading the book.

Fitting in reading can be difficult. So, if you can’t seem to fit in ANY reading, try opting for a podcast or audiobook! You can listen while you shop, wait for the kids, or work out—so you don’t even have to make extra time in your busy schedule. Joining a book club or visiting your local library can be a great way to find literary inspiration. But yes, those options take up precious time, too. I recently joined an online book club, and I just love it. It’s totally casual AND it keeps me reading…without the pressure of having to attend an actual group.

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6. Floss

Most of us brush once or twice a day, but how many of us REALLY floss? When your dentist asks, do you ever fudge your answer…just a little? (I know I have. Yikes.) Maybe you say “a few times a week” when the answer really is “every other week, unless I eat spinach or corn.”

We all know flossing prevents dental disease and keeps our gums healthy. It also prevents tooth decay by loosening the bits of food that cause plaque when they build up between our teeth. And we’ve all heard someone tell us that flossing is just as (if not more!) important than brushing.

So we should probably think of your mouth as the gateway to our entire system. Tooth decay can lead to a number of health problems, from heart disease to sore throats and more—so keeping our teeth healthy and strong ensures the rest of our body works properly, too.

Flossing is probably one of the easiest habits to form quickly, as it can easily become part of your nighttime routine. It’s pretty easy and it only takes a few minutes. Once I made flossing part of my routine, I kept thinking, “Why didn’t I always do this?”

Habits are so freeing! What simple but life-changing habits have YOU picked up to boost your energy, become healthier, and feel happier? There are so many to choose from—yet some are easier for some of us than for others. Embracing flossing, picking up some reading time, smiling more, or any of the habits on this list can literally take just a few minutes a day and totally change your life.

Try a new habit today and within a month or two you just might thank yourself! You’ll be amazed at the things you can do when you pick up a few great habits.

 

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10 Comments

  1. January 6 at 09:34AM

    My favorite tip on this list is to approach life as an opportunity to learn and grow. Richard Rohr’s book “Everything Belongs” really inspired me to approach life as an opportunity to learn and grow.

  2. January 7 at 08:08AM

    I love your attitude towards looking for the positive when something bad happens. I often tell myself that everything happens for a reason, even if we can’t see that reason right now. Maybe we’ll figure it out years later. That negative event may be leading to something great.

  3. Pat
    January 7 at 11:14AM

    I, too, like the habit you suggested of taking something negative and turning it in to a postitive…an opportunity to grow.

  4. Geri
    January 7 at 01:22PM

    Love it!
    Floss and reframe, my first 2 picks.
    I have the smile one down and love it when the other person does it first and I can return the gesture. I’ve experienced where others don’t respond, sadly…but then I remind myself I am not walking in their shoes.
    Thank you!!

  5. January 8 at 03:11PM

    I’m all for introducing new habits one at a time. I’m terrible for trying to do too much at once and then getting disheartened because nothing gets done. I think my main one is a simple “put things away right away” habit.

  6. January 11 at 02:40PM

    I know exactly what you mean about trying to establish habits that mean nothing to you. They just don’t happen! I used to want to be a runner SO bad (all dietitians run, right?). Then I realized that this wasn’t really something near and dear to my heart. I only thought I was supposed to do it. Being in good physical shape is important though, so I have found other forms of exercise I enjoy more than running. A part of me does still want to run, but at least I’m not waiting on that to be the habit that gets me in shape.

  7. Sandra
    January 11 at 09:06PM

    Thanks for these reminders, especially the one about silver linings. I work from home most days, but when I have to commute 30-40 minutes in heavy traffic to attend meetings in the office I listen to a podcast. I find I look forward to the drive instead of dreading it!

  8. January 26 at 07:10AM

    Smile is my best tips because life is a challenge for me but whatever happen I still manage to smile. 🙂

  9. February 3 at 03:33PM

    I smile ALL of the time! My oldest son is leaving for college this fall and, even though I show him how much I love him every day, I sometimes fail to tell him. I’ve recently made a habit of saying “I love you” to him at least once a day. The funny thing is, he noticed!

  10. February 7 at 05:13PM

    I have been making a habit of reading more. It was something I heavily neglected last year, but I’m doing so much better about it this year.

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