The Habits That Changed My Life

Sometimes it’s good to focus on what we’re doing right, rather than continually trying to self-improve. Of course, I struggle with bad habits, as we all do. But like brushing and flossing, washing my hands, and saying “please,” I have plenty of positive habits that make my daily life better. These are the habits I’m proud of. 1. I read every day. This habit started in first grade and I’ve maintained it ever since. I read fiction and non-fiction books, some news, and favorite blogs. I always encounter food for thought and inspiration. 2. I write every day. My goal is one sentence, a goal so small I can meet it no matter what else is going on that day. I usually write much more. This habit has led to letters, gratitude journals, blogging, and writing and publishing several books. 3. I pray every day. I concentrate on offering prayers of thanks, although of course, I ask for help, guidance, and forgiveness as well. But once I start thinking of things to be grateful for, so many blessings come to mind! It’s hard to feel depression or self-pity, even during hard times, when you have a habit of praying with thanksgiving. This has turned into a habit of thanking people as well, which goes a long way toward strengthening relationships. 4. “If it only takes one minute, do it now!” This is a habit I learned from my dad. Many things fall into the “one-minute” category: hanging up my jacket or clothes, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wiping up the bathroom mirror and counter after using the sink, putting my book or the TV remote, or my crochet project away before bed, tidying, sorting mail, and more. So many tasks take only a minute or two, but if I procrastinate or neglect them altogether pretty soon I’m surrounded by piles and clutter. One minute makes all the difference. 5. I drink water first. I drink a full glass of water before I eat or drink anything else at a meal. This is good for hydration, and it fills me up so I eat less junk. 6. I eat veggies first. This habit started in childhood because I didn’t like vegetables. I knew I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I had eaten them, so I’d get them out of the way first so I could enjoy the rest of my meal. Today, even though I like most vegetables, I still eat a salad, some veggie-heavy soup, or the broccoli on my plate first. That way I know I’ve had quality nutrition, and I’m a bit more full before I start on my main course. 7. I exercise every day. Studies show that just ten minutes of intense daily exercise (whatever gets you breathing heavily and your heart rate up) improves fitness and metabolism. I’m not a naturally athletic, outdoorsy person, but ten minutes? It’s not going to turn me into Iron Woman, but I don’t want to be Iron Woman. I just want some energy and stamina. I start with a little stretching, which is good for flexibility, posture, blood flow, back strength, and stress relief. 8. I say “I love you” to all the important people. I tell my husband, kids, grandkids, close friends, etc. that I love them at least once every time I am with them (or make a phone call, or send an email, etc.). We can never say it enough! Even if we’re upset with each other, we can still say, “We might not agree, but I love you.” 9. I sing every day. For decades I was an opera singer, so I sang every day, even if it was simply 5 or 10 minutes of vocal exercises. It not only improved my skills, range, breath, and vocal agility, but constant practice gave me poise and confidence as a performer. If you want to do anything at the highest level of your ability, you must do it every day. 10. I (must) get out in nature every day. This is one habit I haven’t always managed during the pandemic. I admit I’ve spent too many days in my pajamas, simply because I had nowhere to go. But fresh air (especially in the early morning), trees, birds, and the sky ALWAYS lift my spirits and make me feel more awake and glad to be alive. We need nature, and I need to do more than look at it out the window. Which daily habits have been most valuable for you? Are there are any you would like to start cultivating (or reigniting) this fall? About the Author: Karen Trefzger is a writer, singer, teacher, wife, mother, and grandmother who has been choosing a simpler life for over 20 years. She is the author of Minimalism A to Z, and blogs at MaximumGratitudeMinimalStuff.

The Habits That Changed My Life

Sometimes it’s good to focus on what we’re doing right, rather than continually trying to self-improve.

Of course, I struggle with bad habits, as we all do. But like brushing and flossing, washing my hands, and saying “please,” I have plenty of positive habits that make my daily life better.

These are the habits I’m proud of.

1. I read every day.

This habit started in first grade and I’ve maintained it ever since. I read fiction and non-fiction books, some news, and favorite blogs. I always encounter food for thought and inspiration.

2. I write every day.

My goal is one sentence, a goal so small I can meet it no matter what else is going on that day. I usually write much more. This habit has led to letters, gratitude journals, blogging, and writing and publishing several books.

3. I pray every day.

I concentrate on offering prayers of thanks, although of course, I ask for help, guidance, and forgiveness as well. But once I start thinking of things to be grateful for, so many blessings come to mind! It’s hard to feel depression or self-pity, even during hard times, when you have a habit of praying with thanksgiving. This has turned into a habit of thanking people as well, which goes a long way toward strengthening relationships.

4. “If it only takes one minute, do it now!”

This is a habit I learned from my dad. Many things fall into the “one-minute” category: hanging up my jacket or clothes, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wiping up the bathroom mirror and counter after using the sink, putting my book or the TV remote, or my crochet project away before bed, tidying, sorting mail, and more. So many tasks take only a minute or two, but if I procrastinate or neglect them altogether pretty soon I’m surrounded by piles and clutter.

One minute makes all the difference.

5. I drink water first.

I drink a full glass of water before I eat or drink anything else at a meal. This is good for hydration, and it fills me up so I eat less junk.

6. I eat veggies first.

This habit started in childhood because I didn’t like vegetables. I knew I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I had eaten them, so I’d get them out of the way first so I could enjoy the rest of my meal. Today, even though I like most vegetables, I still eat a salad, some veggie-heavy soup, or the broccoli on my plate first. That way I know I’ve had quality nutrition, and I’m a bit more full before I start on my main course.

7. I exercise every day.

Studies show that just ten minutes of intense daily exercise (whatever gets you breathing heavily and your heart rate up) improves fitness and metabolism. I’m not a naturally athletic, outdoorsy person, but ten minutes? It’s not going to turn me into Iron Woman, but I don’t want to be Iron Woman. I just want some energy and stamina. I start with a little stretching, which is good for flexibility, posture, blood flow, back strength, and stress relief.

8. I say “I love you” to all the important people.

I tell my husband, kids, grandkids, close friends, etc. that I love them at least once every time I am with them (or make a phone call, or send an email, etc.). We can never say it enough! Even if we’re upset with each other, we can still say, “We might not agree, but I love you.”

9. I sing every day.

For decades I was an opera singer, so I sang every day, even if it was simply 5 or 10 minutes of vocal exercises. It not only improved my skills, range, breath, and vocal agility, but constant practice gave me poise and confidence as a performer. If you want to do anything at the highest level of your ability, you must do it every day.

10. I (must) get out in nature every day.

This is one habit I haven’t always managed during the pandemic. I admit I’ve spent too many days in my pajamas, simply because I had nowhere to go. But fresh air (especially in the early morning), trees, birds, and the sky ALWAYS lift my spirits and make me feel more awake and glad to be alive. We need nature, and I need to do more than look at it out the window.

Which daily habits have been most valuable for you? Are there are any you would like to start cultivating (or reigniting) this fall?