Want to pick up some good habits? The best approach is to start small.
In the Quora thread “What are some good ‘mini habits’ to practice each day?” readers shared the simple habits you should follow every day to become a happier, healthier, or more productive person.
The best part is, each one takes only about five minutes to complete.
Here are some of our favourites:
1. Brush your teeth and floss
Brushing and flossing your teeth not only prevents gingivitis and tooth decay, but it can also save your life.
The American Dental Association recommends you brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day. If you don’t, you could be putting yourself at greater risk for developing dementia, diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer, among other things.
2. Smile at yourself in the mirror
Just after you brush your teeth, look at yourself in the mirror and smile, holding the smile for 10 seconds. Dr. Robert Zajonc, a famous psychologist, believed facial action leads to changes in mood, and in a 1989 study he found that participants who watched themselves smile in a mirror experienced a greater boost in mood than those who simply smiled.
3. Write down the day’s most important task
Also known as “eating the frog,” decide on the one task you must perform that day to be successful and do it first thing when you get to work.
4. Make your bed
Starting your day by finishing something and doing it well provides a small self-esteem boost early on. And when you come home tired from a long day at work, there will be nothing between you and a good night’s sleep.
Meditation only takes a few minutes every day, but it can bring many benefits like a decreased risk of mental illness and brain degeneration, increased serotonin production, lower blood pressure, and decreased anxiety.
If you have no clue how to meditate, try simply sitting in a quiet place and counting your breaths. Your focus should be on your breath and not your thoughts. Restart counting as soon as your mind distracts you and you find yourself thinking of something else.
6. Remind yourself how lucky you are
My days go so much smoother when I remind myself: “dude, you could just as easily have been born in a Sudanese refugee camp. You’re one lucky mo-fo.”
7. Listen to a podcast
There are plenty of five-minute podcasts out there, and if you can’t sit and read a book, they can be a great way to learn while doing brainless work.
8. Dress slightly better than the occasion calls for
If everyone at work wears casual clothes, wear casual clothes with a sports jacket — it’s easy to do, you’ll stand out from the herd in a positive way, and important people will take notice.
9. Become uncomfortable at least once a day
Summon the courage to do something that makes you anxious, like speaking up during a work conference call or saying hi to someone new. As self-improvement coach George Addair once said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” — Patrick Mathieson
10. Deal with clutter
As soon as you’re done using something, put it back where it belongs. This will help you drastically cut back on the clutter in your life and save you the time you would otherwise waste looking for something.
And before you go to bed, pick up the clutter left around one space at a time. This could help you have a cleaner mind, have clearer thinking, and focus on things that you really want to achieve.
11. Try something new
Be it taking a different route to work, talking to a new person, or experimenting with something you haven’t before, don’t let your curiosity and awe die in the daily grind.
Writing every day can help you keep track of your progress, feel good, and stay motivated to make even more progress.
13. Walk more
Walk to work if you can, take the stairs, walk around the office when you’re stuck on a problem, get outside and walk during lunch, and walk home again. The exercise isn’t just good for your body, it can also boost your energy levels, creativity, and mood, too.
— aggregated from multiple Quora users
14. Create passwords that inspire
Whether your employer requires you to frequently change your passwords or not, you might consider getting into the habit of changing your passwords each month to include your aspirational goals.
If you had to type “[email protected]” every time you logged in to your computer or email, you might just have a better relationship with your mum.
15. Say ‘no’
It’s a moment on the lips, but saying “no” can save you so much more time than that.
If you do not want to do it, do not have enough time to do it, see no benefit in doing it, just say, “No.” Refusing other people’s unreasonable requests may seem lazy, but it is absolutely the smartest way to manage your time and will free up the needed space for you to accomplish your personal goals.
16. Express gratitude
It sounds trite, hackneyed, and overly simple, but you would be amazed at the effects of a daily gratitude practice. It can be as simple as waking up and writing down three things you are grateful for. This is how I started, but as I practiced more and more, it became more like a habit. When I get impatient in lines or waiting, I take a deep breath, think of something I’m grateful for, and focus on that.
The big picture is to change your life from not having what you want to the opposite of being grateful for what you have and ultimately wanting what you have (rather than wanting what you don’t have). It seems like everyone runs around seeing the deficiencies, short comings, losses, how much money they’re not making, how they’re not succeeding in their lives.
But when you start to be grateful for everything in your life, you align your life with thoughts of abundance and more comes your way. It starts small at first, then you just start noticing you’re a little more patient, a little more energised, a little happier, and then good things start happening in your life.
Responses have been edited for clarity.
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