You probably already know the things that make up a good, healthy, happiness-filled life. (And you’re pretty sure it’s not Cheetos, checking email in bed, or gossiping.)
But we all need occasional (or even daily) reminders. And the good news is: you don’t have to do these things five times a day, every day to see a big shift in your life. Even just a few times a week or five minutes a day can make a big difference. Promise!
With that in mind, here are 12 things that all of us—myself very much included—should be doing more often.
1. Disconnect from technology.
Let’s turn our phones off, especially at dinner. Institute a "no phones on the table" rule. We don’t need to spend all our time documenting our lives for social media. Contrary to the popular saying, yes it did happen, even if it’s not on Instagram.
2. Spend time in each other's company.
Physically being with people is the only way to get that sense of human connectedness. Yes, it’s lovely to video chat with your grandma every weekend, but that’s not the same as standing in her kitchen, working through her famous recipe for cinnamon rolls. Commit to making more time for in-person interaction with the people you love.
3. Put your well-being first.
Many of us have a tendency to let our egos and bank accounts make decisions for us. If we don’t go to that party, they won’t invite us next time. If we say no to that client, they won’t put us on retainer. If we don’t order a cocktail and appetizer, they’ll think we’re boring or broke.
Our emotional and physical well-being often falls to the wayside. Take those personal days, drink water and eat a salad, turn down things that feel wrong.
4. Call family members just to say hi.
Your mom would love to hear your voice and your sister would love to hear all about your trip to Mexico. So call them! Don’t save phone calls for those "figuring out travel plans" or "what should we get Dad for his birthday" situations.
5. Read real, actual books.
I love the feel of books and the smell of the pages. I love to write in the margins, fold the pages, and crack the spine when I open them for the first time. Books are a treasure box of words in your pocket. Spend more time with them.
6. Think before responding.
Since we’re constantly returning texts and replying to emails within five minutes, we’ve gotten into the habit of responding to situations immediately. And that’s fine when your friend is just emailing to say she’ll be 10 minutes late. But when you receive important news, good or bad, sit with it for a while. Give yourself time to work through it and feel your feelings. You’ll probably be much happier with your response if you give yourself some time.
7. Get more laughing done in a day.
The average 4-year-old laughs 300 times a day, the average 40-year-old laughs four. How can you up your laugh quota? Surround yourself with funny people, learn how to tell a joke, subscribe to some hilarious podcasts, or just search YouTube for funny videos.
8. Write by hand.
Write letters to your family or friends, write notes to lovers, lists for the store, goals for the week, or thank you notes. Digital communication is fantastic and convenient but there’s a huge difference between texting someone to say that you love them and writing it on a note and leaving it taped to the front door or bathroom mirror.
9. Go to sleep one hour earlier.
When we’re well rested we’re more productive, happier, and we make better decisions. Those emails will still be there in the morning, as will Netflix. Close the screen and go to sleep.
10. Make time to do nothing.
Yes, even if you have to actually schedule it into your calendar. Doing nothing could be going for a walk, cuddling your pet, taking a long bath, or just laying on the sofa and staring into the middle distance. Down time is required if you really want to recharge your batteries.
11. Get dressed up.
I know that leggings-as-pants are incredibly comfortable. But sometimes we need to take the time to shine our shoes, put on some red lipstick, and get out of our yoga clothes. Even if it’s for no good reason! Make your own reason—drinks with the girls, a gallery opening, dinner at that cool new restaurant.
12. Wander. Without your GPS, without a destination or purpose.
Take a walk around a new neighborhood, pull over when you see a cute shop you’ve never noticed before, let your dog lead the way on his daily walk. You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet.
Now, I bet that you already know that these simple steps will make your life more amazing. Consider this a loving push to really, actually do them a little more often.