Improving your everyday involves making swaps to upgrade your experiences, ramp up your output and set you up for success and happiness.
A habit is defined as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is considered to be difficult to give up. Which are the habits that don’t serve you? What are you doing that is making you feel tired, irritable and negative? It’s time to identify these habits and swap them out.
Consider that the first thing you do upon opening your laptop might put you in the wrong frame of mind. Your morning coffee might put you on edge more than it gives you focus. Even the way you always brush your teeth might be suboptimal. The same for the way you train for a marathon or how you unwind in an evening or how you shop for groceries. Doing the same things in the same way leads to the same results. If you want a different result, make a change.
It’s more effective to replace habits with new ones than stop old ones all together. It’s why vaping has helped many people quit smoking and why a change of scenery can spark an epiphany. Make a list of the habits you have that stop you living the best possible version of your life.
Here are 3 swaps to make to instantly boost your happiness:
1. Fearful thinking
Worrying about the future is the opposite of contentment and, therefore, happiness. Reading into someone else’s actions or words and assuming the worst is a form of self-inflicted torture. Think of all those bad things you once worried might happen. Chances are that most of them never came to pass, and the ones that did you overcame heroically. Worrying is like visualising a future that you don’t want. It’s a complete waste of time and energy.
Swap it for:
Negative visualisation. Write a list of all the worst possible things that could happen, and then write down how you’d handle each scenario. There’s always a plan you can make and there’s always a way through any problem. Back yourself to get through whatever is thrown at you and realise that worrying doesn’t make it any more or less likely, so there’s no point doing it.
Meditating. Worrying either means you’re anxious about something that happened in the past or something that might happen in the future. Either way, your head isn’t in the present. See if you can be present and focus on what’s actually happening in the room rather than in your head. Separate the two. Listening to guided meditations might help you see the difference and stay in the here and now.
Making a success plan. There are some things you can control and there are things you can’t. Out of your control: other people and what they say, do and think, the weather, and so on. In your control: what you say, what you think, how you act. Make a success plan along with daily, weekly and monthly actions you’re going to take and measure the inputs instead of the outputs. Focus firmly on what is in your control and let everything else go.
2. Checking your profiles
There’s always something to “check”; your inbox, social media or a forum, that might result in a dopamine hit that satisfies a short-term craving. The designers of apps and websites do so deliberately to keep you on them for longer. Notifications, endless scroll and candy-dispenser-like alerts keep you hooked and in a loop of checking that’s not conducive to happiness.
Swap it for:
Batching activities. Separate every action you take into big things and little things. The small, minor things are those tiny actions that overall make no difference. Things like checking emails, checking social media, checking bank accounts, invoices and Google Analytics. Batch them into less frequent actions and have a giant checkfest once a week, but no more.
Picking one thing to focus on. With the space you have found by batching little things, pick the big things that you can attack. The big things are those projects that really move the needle and get you where you want to be. The ones that seem daunting until they’re done. Set a pomodoro timer, close all your tabs, turn off notifications and get started. Keep going until you find yourself in a state of flow.
Producing. Turn your ideas and knowledge into articles, blogs, books and downloads. Instead of consuming, checking and scrolling, look to create and produce. What seems obvious to you can be groundbreaking to someone else. Write, record and create to inspire, inform and educate.
3. Watching TV
TV is a massive time-suck. No ifs, no buts. It’s not a good use of life. It can become the default option for an evening, meaning you end up watching stuff you don’t really care about that has zero value or bearing on your life. Those on the path to greatness don’t watch much TV, if any. You can watch TV on a treadmill but not on the racetrack.
Swap it for:
Journaling. Use the time to assess the day. Slow down to write in free form and assess how you’re feeling, what’s going right and what needs improvement. Keep a log of your thoughts and actions and understand the cause and effect of everything you do. It’s amazing how therapeutic this practice can be.
Learning a language. Open up new worlds and the chance to meet new people. Put your brain into something challenging in a different way to your regular work. Commit a certain time each day and attend classes or learn via an app or book. Do it with friends in the lead up to a trip you’ve booked together.
Meeting friends. Cultivating arms-length relationships via WhatsApp and Instagram doesn’t make for meaningful connections. Pay someone a visit, take a meal over, invite them round, at the very least call someone you haven’t seen in a while. Learn about their world whilst expanding yours.
For maximum happiness, find the habits that don’t serve you and replace them with ones that do. If applicable, start with watching television, needless checking and fearful thinking.