I'll start. Here are three big (small?) things I do consistently that have a large impact on my quality of life:
1) I floss my teeth everyday.
Yes, this keeps my dental bills low, but far more importantly this was the watershed habit for me. I spent years feeling mildly guilty with every dentist visit realizing I "should" be better about flossing. I'd floss occasionally but I probably spent more time debating whether I really needed to floss at night than it would take to actually make it happen.
I decided to stop asking myself the question, and to just floss no matter what. In other words, I finally made it a habit. I quickly began to enjoy it and the good feeling of following through on a resolution, simple as it was. This had a ripple effect on many other areas of my life.
Bonus: I love dentist appointments now and I dance a bit every time I chuck an empty floss dispenser into the trash. The capacity to change is a beautiful thing.
2) I journal every day.
I actually journal *most* days but I catch up on any day I miss so ultimately every day of the year has something written down.
I use a "10 year journal" format in a simple document on my computer. I've been doing it for over 7 years now and the personal benefits have been huge:
- Awareness. Reflecting for just a few minutes on the day I've just spent before I begin a new one has made me realize what matters to me (relationships!). I'm also more grateful for the good bits of my life that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
- Perspective. Progress in parenting can be slow but whenever I journal about a day, I see immediately above it what I wrote a full year before, and the year before that, etc. It's encouraging to see growth and sometimes eye-opening to realize how long a particular struggle has continued.
- I now have hundreds of pages of family anecdotes - the highs and lows of life with young children - preserved. I've discovered that most of the sweetest and funniest moments quickly fall out of my leaky brain if they don't get written down.
- My kids adore hearing stories about our family's past. I can quickly search for their name and bring up loads to share that is specific to them.
- I can now fact-check my husband when we have different recollections of the way something went down. A shocking amount of time we're both wrong.
The key for me to establish this habit was just lowering the threshold. I took the Tiny Habits approach and I told myself I did not ever need to write a full account of a day. One sentence is enough. More often than not I write quite a bit more, but if I stop at a sentence I still win. As with so many things, the habit is more powerful than the result of any single effort.
3) I make the first few minutes with someone I love count.
A few years ago someone I respect mentioned that the first and last minutes you spend with someone each day are the most impactful to your relationship. I'm still working on making the last few minutes better (bedtime is tough with four kids sometimes!) but since I heard that advice I've changed the way I greet my husband and my children.
In the morning when they wake up and anytime they walk in the door, I do a full stop on whatever I'm doing and I focus just on them for a few minutes. It doesn't take long to give smiles and hugs and show genuine delight that I get to be with them. This simple habit lifts my attitude* and increases our family's unity.
*I'm not a morning person, so a habit of showing delight in the wee hours reeeeally helps set a good tone in our home. The kids tend to reflect back my mood, making it doubly important.