By Dr. Ben Conmy
What do you do every day without fail? Brush your teeth? Swim? Eat a bowl of Wheaties? The truth is, it is exceedingly difficult in today’s fast-paced world to adhere to a routine. That’s 365 times each year that you have to do a specific thing—not that simple when you think about it. What’s even more challenging is that I intend to suggest seven daily habits that might just make a positive difference in your life. In all likelihood, all seven will not be for you, but one might.
And if it adds even one percent to your daily quality of existence, why not throw it in the locker? I can’t hurt to try.
Laugh. Hold on! Don’t see this is some existential, “out there” concept of wellness. I’m talking practical laughter. Before I go to bed every night I prepare a YouTube clip, a DVD scene or an audio piece, or sometimes I put out an article, quote or photo—anything that genuinely makes me laugh. That’s how I start every morning. I laugh. Then I begin my day, because if all else fails (and often it does), at least I’ve laughed once.
Work on your to-do list. Yes, it’s a classic—the to-do list. But it’s a classic and a cliché for a reason: It works. Try to keep your agenda in order. Make it your guide, or script, for the day. Be sure to put some easy tasks on that list, too, for a celebratory little boost of achievement throughout a trying day. Here’s the key: When those tasks are done, strike them off! From Hemingway to Napoleon, great characters all had to-do lists, even if it was a mental one.
Have a treat. Yes, we should be healthy. Yes, we should be taking care of ourselves. And yes, we are all getting older. However, there should be a point in each day where you indulge yourself with a little treat. Mine is a few milk chocolate orange pastilles from Droste in Holland. Magical. This may seem small, but to have your little indulgence waiting—which no one knows about but you—can be a wonderful distraction from the everyday grind.
Take five. Time and again I hear, “I don’t have a minute in the day,” and that is absolute rubbish. What you should be saying is, “I’m not being creative enough to make five minutes for myself in a day,” because that’s the truth. It is crucial to have absolute downtime where you just sit and shut down. Maybe you think about an ex-lover or remember a holiday with your family. Whatever it may be, build in at least five minutes per day, although I endorse up to an hour.
Learn something new. In the age of the Internet, endless media and mobile phones, there is absolutely no reason you cannot learn at least one new thing each and every day. Learn a Jean-Paul Sartre quote, the difference between the axial and appendicular skeleton, the ingredients in shepherd’s pie. Just learn something new. And I mean learn it, don’t just read it. It’s amazing how really understanding something brand-new can provide a sense of worth to your day.
Be genuine. This one will have the cynics with their arms in the air, but I will not be deterred. Pay someone a genuine compliment. If you can go through an entire day without finding one thing to say to another human being that is positive and gracious, then it’s a sad state of affairs. At first this one may seem strange, but soon enough you’ll find that making someone else feel good about themselves is a wonderful gift that costs you absolutely nothing.
Exercise. No surprises here. Whatever you can manage is great, but aiming for a minimum of 20 minutes physical activity is the target. Even if this is organizing the kids for school, try to turn that into a small workout—keep moving, stay on your feet, walk the kids out to the bus stop, etc. Every little bit helps; just getting the blood pumping is so important every day. Remember: Walking is terribly underrated, so get out there and stroll.