The Habits of Happiness

When I turned 39, I decided I wanted to do something special to celebrate my 40th trip around the sun.

Having explored a few “40 before 40” lists, and found them wanting, I came up with my own plan. My goal for this year is to incorporate 40 healthy habits into my routine. I’m going to keep track of them here. I hope you might find one or two to take up yourself, and I welcome your comments, suggestions and cheerleading too!

1. Goodbye, I love you

I’ve never been great at expressing this feeling, but I am convinced if you feel it you should say it. This habit is about making sure I say “I love you” to the people I really care about, for example at the end of phone calls.

2. A.S.L

I’ve meant to learn Sign Language for a long time. Languages are hard for me. When I asked for suggestions for my list, learning a new skill and doing something I had always intended to were both offered. This matches both! 4 lessons into a free online course, I’m really enjoying it.

3. London Calling

There are few better ways to lose an hour than talking to a friend. Although neither started in 2021, my weekly phone calls to a neighbour on Mondays and my dear friend Joy on Fridays are highlights of the week. Long may they continue.

4. A Routine Made Of Habits

To an extent, I guess all habits should be part of your routine, but this one is about weekly chores. Laundry, House cleaning, etc. I find it much easier to keep on top of them if they have their own day / days and don’t wait until I ‘have time’.

5. The Drugs Don’t Work

… unless you take them. Remembering to take medication, supplements or whatever I need to take isn’t my strong suit. But now, I’ve started storing mine in a cupboard I open every breakfast time. And taking a dose immediately so I don’t get distracted and forget.

6. Run Forrest, Run

Fitting exercise into a day is probably the biggest challenge for me. So I’m starting small: up and down one flight of stairs 5 times a day. It doesn’t take long and I don’t need to shower or change for it, so I don’t have lack of time as an excuse. Even after 3 weeks, it’s already starting to feel a tiny bit easier.

7. While you’re here…

Someone advised me that the easiest way to incorporate habits is to link them to something you already do. So every day, the first time I go into the basement, I sweep the cats’ litter box. It means I don’t feel like it’s a ‘thing to do’ in its own right.

8. Goodnight Kiss

Ever since they stopped sleeping with me (or inside me!) I’ve made sure to kiss my kids goodnight when I go to bed. It’s probably my favourite habit of all!

Not like this!

9. I love you enough to check

On the subject of I Love You, another habit I have is checking the kids are strapped in before we drive off. The big one is able to do his own straps now, but I still stick my head through the door, give him a kiss and check his belt. It makes me feel safe… and I hope makes them feel loved.

By Pedro Ribeiro Simões from Lisboa, Portugal – Girl Shopping, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85152054

10. Support network

Buying a new bra every year around Christmas time means I remember to throw out the old, worn-out ones on rotation. And it’s always nice to get a little extra support 😉

11. Elmowrites because Elmo loves to write

Someone asked me the other day when I became a writer. I couldn’t answer, because I think it’s always been in my soul. Making a habit of writing on this blog, in particular Friday Fiction every Wednesday, is probably one of the healthiest habits I have. It does wonders for my brain and I’m so glad to be back in the habit now.

12. Baby’s Got New Shoes

I have to wear shoes indoors for the support or my legs start hurting. Remembering to replace them regularly prevents the pain recurring, so a habit I’m trying to build is to buy new sneakers every time the clocks change. And yes, I know the picture isn’t strictly relevant, but who couldn’t use a little more Robert Redford in their life?

13. Giving Tuesdays

Last year I discovered that buying gift cards for our local supermarket, then using them to pay for our groceries, gave the kids’ school a 1.5% kickback on everything I spend. It doesn’t cost me anything or affect my points and it adds maybe 1 minute to my weekly shopping trip. Pretty neat, eh? So now I’m in the habit of buying giftcards. And spending them.

14. I gotta tell you…

I love buying from small businesses, but my limited dollars only go so far, and I’ve read time and again that one of the best ways to support a small business, whether that’s a bricks-and-mortar store, an etsy page or a new author, is through a positive review. So one of my new habits is to post google reviews regularly, and whenever I try something new and find myself impressed.

Mole, in Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

15. Hang, Spring Cleaning!

Whether you binge-watch Marie Kondo, read a book or take an online course, there are plenty of places to find inspiration and methods, but the idea is once a year to take the time to remove the crap that’s weighing you down. Not just the dirt, but the mess and the clutter. I recently recommended it to a newly-unemployed mom friend of mine as one of the best things I did when in her position.

Just a place-holding dinosaur, going about its business

15….

Watch this space…

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… to be continued…

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