If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this:
The best habits, the ones that make big changes in your life, are easy.
- You won’t stick with habits that are too challenging to implement
- As a result, you may beat yourself down, calling yourself “lazy”.
- Easy habits, by contrast, become second nature.
Convinced? Here are three easy habits to start, and keep.
Table of Contents
This first habit is so easy that it takes only 5 seconds of your time each morning. When you first wake up, close your eyes, smile, and say: “Today will be a blast.“ It’s that simple!
Research has shown that smiling, even if you are not necessarily over-joyed, can boost happiness, and reduce stress.
For some context, I am usually a very realistic, pragmatic person. I often expect the worst, so I can plan accordingly, and this has often had an effect on my mood.
Doing this mantra every morning has greatly helped, allowing me to see the day in a hopeful, more positive light. I notice that I have more energy throughout the day, because I don’t waste it planning for the worst.
I’m sure this may sound too good to be true, but think: what are you really risking in starting this habit? 5 seconds of your morning, amounts to nothing in the grand scheme of the day, and has the opportunity to bring you many benefits.
This is a great habit to start with, as it’s sustainable for the long-term, and offers tangible benefits.
Read a book for 5 minutes
I’m sure you have heard the benefits of reading: It allows one to garner more knowledge, improve themselves, have a stronger vocabulary, be more mindful, and relax.
If you’d like to complement this with a note-taking strategy to improve comprehension, check out this article to learn more.
Often, 30 minutes each day is the recommended amount of time that should be spent reading each day, but for many, this habit fizzles out after only 1-2 weeks.
Thus, I always recommend making it easier to accomplish – almost too easy.
Once you get acclimated to the habit and become consistent, you can increase the difficulty.
In this case, start with reading 5 minutes each day. Once you can do that consistently for a few weeks, increase it to 10 minutes each day, and so forth.
I personally read right before bed, because I’ve found it improves my sleep, and allows me time to reflect on the material.
A general rule that you can follow is this: As you perform a habit, it gradually gets easier. If a habit is too hard to complete, it is not sustainable.
List three things you’ve learned.
This takes you 2-3 minutes, and accomplishes two things:
- It helps you feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
- It allows you to retain more of what you have learned.
Firstly, you feel more accomplished, because you now realize that, despite the hardships of the day, you have at least learned something.
Instead of deeming yourself useless, or lazy, this puts your day into perspective, and gives you something to celebrate.
I have fallen into the trap of self-condemnation many times, often feeling like I am wasting my day. However, when I look back at what I’ve learned that day, I realize that I actually have accomplished something, and that I am not useless.
This is so powerful, because it helps improve self-confidence, and thus make you happier, and less stressed. As you can see, the benefits of this habit extend much further than just comprehension.
When a habit’s benefits send a ripple effect throughout your life (like in this example), the habit is a keystone habit.
The other benefit is more self-explanatory, which is that it can help you retain more of what you’ve learned.
Often, students may walk out of the lecture, or the test-room, and almost instantly forget what they learned.
This poses a problem, because when midterms and finals roll around, you now have to re-learn everything from the first semester, AND grasp new content from the second half of the year.
All in all, this is a great habit for students, but can also be implemented by anyone who wants to improve their lives, and feel accomplished.
I cannot stress this enough, because this is often the reason why people fail in building their habits.
Don’t start by implementing all three of these habits at once, because it may feel overwhelming. Start with the first habit in the article, and master it.
Once it becomes second nature, you can start working on perfecting another habit. Before long, your habits will become part of your life, and will be effortless.