The Daily HabiTrail is six daily habits I will try to form. I stole this idea from Mark Manson; I’m not that original or motivational. We’ll see how it goes.
The idea is that forming a few consistent healthy daily habits for at least 30 days will instill them into your brain until they eventually become automatic. You start small and realistic, with brief, simple activities you like and can do, then when those daily habits are part of your routine, you can add layers onto them.
It’s like smart investing in yourself: you start with a small investment that will give you the most bang for your buck, then add on or reinvest in it, and your gains or growth compound exponentially.
(The opposite approach, setting New Year’s type goals, is usually ineffective because most humans don’t operate that way. It’s more of a spending, rather than investing, mindset, to continue Mark Manson’s financial metaphor. The gains are linear, not exponential, if they even get that far. It’s not humanly realistic.)
The six healthy habits are not all as intuitive and obvious as you might expect: exercise, cooking, meditation, reading, writing, and socializing. For example:
Exercise: I live in an apartment with nowhere to go in cold weather, so I’ve started doing a walking “circuit” upstairs and downstairs, starting with a few, and working up to the equivalent of the daily recommended minimum. It’s boring, but it’s free! On warmer days I’ll walk to Avdi’s instead. In spring and on, I’ll garden there and chase kids around. That won’t be boring!
Cooking: The idea is to make one healthy, enjoyable meal each day. So today I mixed up a balanced assortment of veggies, fruits, nuts, cheeses, and seasonings; weird, I know, but beats some of the usual junk I tend to live on when left to my own devices.
Meditation: I am not a meditator. I get bored and restless (and uncomfortable) very quickly. It’s hard work to sit still, empty your mind, and breathe! So I just started with taking a minute, lighting incense, turning on some Indian raga music, sitting on a cushion facing my green plants, and…immediately thought of writing this! (Which happens to be another habit, but I’ll get to that.) That one will take some practice!
Reading: That’s an easy one for me, now, with a quiet apartment to myself. I always have a stack of books I’m working on, especially at bedtime. The key is to read what you really enjoy, not something you feel obligated to read. I have three different sci-fi authors on my queue right now. The two non-fiction books don’t count–they’re more like homework.
Writing: Well, really not a problem, I’m doing it right now, in a manner of speaking! I love to write, but I definitely need practice. Writing leads to self-discovery, insightful thinking, connecting to people, and it’s therapeutic. It can be a blog, journal or diary, email, etc. as long as you’re consistent, uninhibited, non-self-judgey, and coherent. I’m working on it.
Socializing: That one’s a little challenging for me, though I get some of it at my son’s. The idea is to talk to a person each day for just 15-20 minutes at most, either virtually or in person, but not just chatter; it needs to be genuine connecting. It can be reconnecting, touching base, or even meeting for the first time. Does Percy the PigWig count?
All of the above are cheap or free, and improve physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Most of all, they’re realistic habits that incidentally can accomplish those huge, elusive goals if you incorporate them in tiny increments each day. I’ll let you know how that’s going in future episodes.