The people who know me know that I have this thing with liminality. The spaces between. The becoming. I’ve had a thing with becoming for such a long time and I especially value it in regards to my personal narrative (which is much too long a story for a blog post on building positive habits) so it’s something I think about a lot.
Being a human is so cool. Constantly getting the opportunity to change, move forward, to fix things. That’s the coolest thing about being human but it’s also the hardest thing and that’s what makes it so difficult to move forward most of the time. It’s really hard to be in a moment and to imagine a future where things are different, where you are stronger, where you are better and better off. It was so much easier for me as a teenager to believe that the way I was was immutable and unchangeable. That these habits and tendencies and thought patterns would never change. And I let that be my story for a very long time and it nearly crushed me.
I think the stories we see on social media and blogging platforms of a life changed and of goals achieved are so important for young people (or even just people) who need to know that things can change. That it takes so much work and so much heart to get there, but things can improve. Listening to Happier (Gretchen Rubin’s podcast) has been a really big push for me to share at least a little more of my own journey from a stagnant and deeply unhappy young woman to the person I am today, the believer in becoming and liminality.
I seek to do that on my blog often with my goal posts and updates but oftentimes I find that format restricting. I like to look at bigger pictures and the big picture I really wanted to focus on is just how profound small changes can be. What a big impact seemingly small habits and actions can have on you and those around you.
I’m about to touch more on these when I do my half year check in but I really wanted to focus on the two biggest tips that have made an impact on me: Warm Greetings/Goodbyes and Setting a Bedtime Alarm. These two small habits have had such an incredible impact on me and my attitude and have affected so much more than what they were intended for.
Warm Greetings and Goodbyes: this one is simple enough. Warmly greet or say goodbye to people. All the time. Make it a point to acknowledge people when you interact with them and start and end on a good note even if you’re not feeling like it. The theory behind this is that it helps with establishing connections and opening relationships and I have to say it’s effective. I’ve gotten to the point where if I find myself having left the house without saying an enthusiastic goodbye I’ll go back inside to kiss Mando goodbye and tell him I love him, even if he’s upstairs. I think it helps make sure we pay attention to how we interact with each other and goes a long way towards not just treating each other like the thing that’s always there. We’re special parts of each other’s lives and it really helps to remember that. It also really helps reset your mood if the first thing you do when you get home is enthusiastically greet your partner in a positive fashion. Make sure you’re not bringing your crappy mood down on them, at least for that second you can show appreciation for them and establish that they’re separate from whatever it is that’s ruining your mood. I try to bring this into my interactions with all other people in my life (especially my family) but since it’s summer right now I have a pretty limited interaction with others.
It seems so simple, especially to teachers because greeting your students enthusiastically and saying goodbye sincerely DEFINITELY helps you establish a connection, set the mood for the day, and create a sense of security with a routine. So yeah, it sounds so simple but also it’s not as easy as you would think to implement it in your daily life especially when you’re not feeling enthusiastic. But why is it that we feel we owe it to our students to dump our baggage at the door and be ‘on’ but we don’t owe that the other people in our life? Obviously you don’t have to be ‘on’ with them after that but that brief greeting, that seeing of them and the acknowledgement of their positive role in your life before you commence in your daily complaining or whatever is so important for maintaining healthy and positive relationships.
Bedtime Alarm: I’ll be more brief about this because I feel like I’ve talked about it a lot but I love this habit so much and it has helped me so much I can’t help but gush about it.
Set an alarm to go to bed just like you set an alarm to wake up. As adults we think we can control ourselves and not stay up late for no reason but we can’t. Stop lying to yourself and set an alarm. Give yourself an external symbol that says “what you’re doing right now is not important and you need sleep.” It’s great! I have an alarm for Nine O’clock that tells me I have an hour to do my nightly routine (which the alarm helps me remember to do) and then at Ten that tells me it’s time to read and then 10:30 that it’s lights out. It’s beautiful.
Not only do I now regularly do things in my nightly routine like pick out my outfit, make the coffee for tomorrow, and load the dishwasher but I also get in a good 30 minutes of reading a night which goes a long way in getting my books for the week in and making me happier in general because now I have time for a hobby I usually miss out on due to ‘lack of time during the school year’. One simple alarm system at night has allowed me to be happier because I’m better rested, able to get up on time in the morning and therefore, be less rushed, read more, and have established routines.
Sometimes I feel like I’m making a big deal out of nothing when I talk about these small habits and pass them off as big accomplishments but I can’t stress enough that these small undertakings can go so far in developing and creating happier and healthier lives. Lives where we can build success and happiness not with some huge leaps or giant changes, but with small measurable habits. Slowly you can gain so much control and happiness from your life through these actions and eventually you get to a place where things are better and happier and we can then begin to work on Mazlow’s higher order needs and reach some sort of self actualization.
What are some small habits you implement that have made you happier? Have you read or listened to Gretchen Rubin and found her advice insightful?
Until next time,