Ten easy habits to develop that will have a positive impact on yourself. A good way to begin a New Year. Make 2017 yours.
1) Drink a glass of water
Whilst it’s often dismissed as being a “boring” choice of beverage and thus one that probably isn’t consumed enough (let’s face it, who goes to a restaurant and orders a glass of water without feeling entirely awkward about it), it’s common knowledge that drinking more water increases your energy, settles your emotions and helps with weight loss. As well as many other benefits.
Imagine it as a spring-clean for your soul, and try and get into the routine of ‘washing yourself’ multiple times a day to the point where – much like brushing your teeth – it becomes a habit that feels uneasy if you skip it.
If you are reading this post, then I am going to ask that you get up and pour yourself a glass of water right now, and drink it. Just do it, no excuses or unnecessary delays, and no giving in to the temptation of ‘more interesting’ things like Rooibos tea or anything else, particularly those that are brown in colour.
I’m certainly going to help myself to a glass of water right after I type this full-stop (.)
2) Send a message to a friend you’ve not spoken to in a while
See what’s new with them. Find out how they’re feeling. Perhaps it may turn out that you both have a plan to travel to a similar place in the not too distant future, and can arrange to meet. If the friend lives nearby, arrange to go for a coffee. Just talk. Listen. Re-engage. Don’t let the ever-increasing velocity of time, or distance, swallow up a valued friend. Add another chapter to your friendship by creating new memories together.
3) Read a book
What I like about books, is that they are escapism without the materialism; an escapism that you yourself have more control over. No overpaid actors and actresses who have already played a billion roles before. No superfluous special effects and stupid noises. Just some words, passionately pulled together by a writer, probably underneath the warm glow of a battered old desk-lamp and a plate of Rich Tea biscuits in a study that smells of dust and sweat. That writer put their heart and soul into those words for you to enjoy.
Those words: just some words that you can interpret whichever way you want. Characters who can be whoever you want them to be. Settings that can look like the kind of places you may have always wanted to visit. New words, like “recumbent”, that instantly roll off the tongue and then permanently fill a vacancy in your internal thesaurus.
Just five minutes of reading a day can have a beautiful impact.
4) Identify the people that make you feel negative, and crop them out like a Photoshop image
I know it’s not always possible, but a lot of the time it is. Friendship is one of the most beautiful things about life, but unfortunately quantity will not always equate to quality.
In recent years I have truly realised how much I am done with expending my energies on people who seem to have a different face for each day of the week, or whose favourite topic of conversation is other people and their faults. That kind of company doesn’t make anybody feel great, and doubtless if they’re being unkind about others, they’re probably being unkind about you, too, and that’s an anxiety and disservice to yourself you really don’t need.
Leave people like that to learn from their own mistakes and make sure that your time is spent only on people who are true. Those are the only people who really matter, and those are the ones who will make your days positive.
I write this as somebody who a year or so ago had no interest in exercise and – to be honest – was pretty fed up of people talking about it. I’m not going to now proclaim to be an expert or a fitness fanatic (although I definitely think I’m heading well towards the latter, who would ever have thought…), but I will just say this:
A body that doesn’t exercise will never know just how much it’s capable of.
6) Smile at a stranger
A genuine smile at a stranger will create a little lift in each of your days.
That cashier in the supermarket has spent 6.5 hours today scanning things through that till, not just your bag of potatoes-for-roasting and pot of Taramasalata. An hour ago she had to listen to a customer snapping at her for accidentally giving the incorrect change, an embarrassing instance that took place in full view of the other customers, one of which she knew personally. Two hours ago, a defunct bag of flour spilled over the conveyor belt, prompting the need of assistance from a grumpy colleague who had rolled into work late with a hangover; the severed smile of Mr Homepride so in-fitting with the atmosphere as she vehemently scrubbed at the rubber, cursing the fifth glass of wine from last night and what she has incorrectly perceived as the cashier’s carelessness.
The cashier has been finding ingrained patches of flour on the fabric of her branded fleece ever since. Added to that, she’s been asked to do some last minute overtime due to sickness, and has had to cancel her plans for the evening.
But just a smile from a stranger. It won’t solve everything, but it’s all that’s needed to add a valuable little lift to this day.
7) Think of your favourite thing to watch as a child, and find it on YouTube
Who we are today is a result of all the days, months and years preceding it. There’s nothing like a bit of nostalgia to remind you of that, and the combination of sound and imagery can so often instantly conjure up feelings or memories that have been locked away for so long.
When I have a bit of spare time, I love searching for old things on YouTube. For example, here’s something that may have the above-described effect on anybody who went to Primary School in England in the 1990’s:
I watch this and instantly think of wet Marmite sandwiches from where the bottled water has leaked inside the lunchbox, the scent of HB pencils, and big square television sets contained in wooden cabinets on wheels. There is something very soothing about this familiarity.
What do you need to do? What do you want to do? What do you need to do in order to do what you want to do? How much time do you have? Write all of this stuff out. Make lists. Pop the cork on your brain where all of these thoughts fly around manically without a start or finish and put them all down on paper using a pen. A physical one.
Then pull out a calendar. A physical one. Be hands on. Write down when you need to do all the things you need to do and watch as they develop into you doing not only what you need to do but what you want to do. And do you know what? Life can be an awkward little shit and maybe on occasion – or maybe on multiple occasions – things won’t work out, but there’s energy to be gained from any forward movement or proactivity. Just enjoy the ride.
9) Throw Them Boomerangs
Give everything you have. Try everything you have an opportunity to try. Go everywhere you have an opportunity to go. Silence that internal vocal that whimpers, “…there’s always tomorrow” or “I wonder if…” and just do it now.
There’s a popular saying in life that you have to make your own luck by putting in your best efforts, but I don’t believe it’s just about luck. I think it’s also about experience, and learning. If you want to experience more and learn more, then you have to do more.
10) Start and finish your day with a song that makes you smile
Music has so much influence on our emotions. For me personally, when I discover a new song I really like, I obtain so much in the way of new, refreshing energy, and much more so than listening to something that I’ve already heard a million times over.
Similarly, songs that make you smile can put you in the mood to make the most of the day ahead or to sleep soundly overnight.
And with that, I’m finishing this post with my song of the day, a little tune that has had me dancing around at various points this past week. And if you – the reader – would prefer not to listen and are therefore done with this post, then all I have to say to you is:
Go and have another glass of water.
Song of the Day: Part Time – Honey Lips
Lo-Fi Synth Pop performed by some guy with long hair who wears sunglasses often. An impossibly difficult artist to Google to ascertain any other information, but a damn tune all the same. This has been on my MP3 player virtually non-stop for a week.