The Habit I Exchanged for a Happier Life

The simple swap that changed everything.

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Burak Karademir/ Getty Images
Burak Karademir/ Getty Images

My newsfeed was filled with neighbors posting windstorm damage — primarily mangled trampolines. Some were perched atop roofs, and some lay upside down in the middle of the street. Our trampoline was held tight in its place, undamaged, because we had taken time and care to anchor it firmly into the ground. Every summer, we can count on a windstorm to wrangle someone’s backyard bouncer, and I’m reminded of one of the most life-changing habits I’ve made: the ability to regain control over my happiness and my future by using my first 30 minutes to journal, reflect, and “anchor down” to my core values.

Both at work and home, most of my twenties and early thirties was spent trending with the way the wind was blowing. I built habits to achieve things I thought would make me happy: ascending job titles, maintaining a certain weight, or people-pleasing. My seasons of happiness were a roller coaster because my criteria for success was linked to ever-changing trends. Hustling to keep up to the stories in my news feed and what I thought people would approve of left me exhausted and vulnerable. I was so confused about the life I truly desired that I felt too overwhelmed to make the right decisions.

The Simple Switch

How many of you check social media or the news the minute you wake up, only to find yourself scrolling with comparison and envy for way longer than you should be? I’ve been there. I was anxiously searching for the next thing that would make me happy, but I counterintuitively found it in stillness.  I made a choice to switch the way I spend the first 30 minutes of my day. Instead of scrolling newsfeeds, I go nose down into reflective journaling. My go-to choice is typically a bible study (I love First5), a book, or simply writing on blank pages with a pen.

Changing how I spent my first 30 minutes revealed my ability to powerfully tune into the things in life that truly matter.  The stillness and reflection recalibrated my inner compass, keeping me moving toward my calling, my True North. It helped me develop unshakable core values that transformed my life, my work, and my relationships. Like my trampoline, I anchor down by journaling about deeper sources of love and truth, which activates my resilience and ability to weather storms, and builds discernment to make the right choices.  

Can changing how you spend the first 30 minutes of your day help you exchange anxiety and overwhelm for a powerful spirit of confidence and self-control? If you find yourself wondering where to start, here are a few of the topics I tend to journal about to keep me anchored down to my values, and not powerless to the changing winds of “everyone” else’s approval.

How To Get Started

Here are reflection journal starters for five days. You might find you have lots of thoughts on these topics and could write for a week. In this case, you have five weeks of morning journal starters. Grab a cozy spot and a coffee — you have the power to create an entirely different life!

Click on the image below to print or save your copy.

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