The title of this blog post is not hyperbole. Do the following and your life will change for the better.
1. Practice gratitude – The biggest surprise, for me, of 2011 was discovering the power of gratitude. It’s nothing short of amazing. And it happens to be free and available anytime. I’d recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Start by writing down 5 things you’re thankful for each morning. I can guarantee you’ll be hooked and write more, then find yourself giving thanks throughout the day. Your happiness will skyrocket. I first learned about the benefits of gratitude in the book The Happiness Hypothesis. Since then I’ve developed a powerful practice. Any time I feel stressed out, I give thanks for 10 things in my life and I immediately feel better. It’s unbelievable. Try it.
2. Meditate – This is far easier than most people think, and the results are drastic. There is a ton of research on the benefits of meditation, from lower stress to better health to greater happiness. I’d recommend the book Wise Mind, Open Mind, which outlines, in a simple way, the benefits of meditation, as well as a number of easy meditations to try. You can start with as little as 2 minutes a day. Meditation is like exercise, it is essential to your health and well-being. 2012 is the year for you to have an incredibly fulfilling meditation practice.
3. Drink green smoothies – Most of us do not get enough fruits and vegetables. One way to solve this problem is to buy a blender and start drinking your fruits and vegetables. I wrote a full length post about green smoothies. In short, they taste great and are super healthy. You don’t need a fancy blender, but I’d highly recommend investing in the Blendtec. It makes things way easier, which drastically increases the likelihood that you’ll make it a habit to have a smoothie a day. Oh, and here’s a post on Why I Love Green Smoothies, plus I provide a great recipe.
4. Use a Neti Pot – Everyone I know who adopted the Neti Pot in 2011 called it either “life changing” or a “game changer.” The Neti Pot rinses out your sinuses with warm salt water. I use mine every morning. It’s great before a workout or meditation. It costs $10 and only takes a few minutes to use. Your health is worth it, buy the Neti Pot and start enjoying better health. Just make sure that you use either boiled tap water or distilled water.
5. Rest on the sabbath – You don’t have to be religious to take a day to rest. Everyone (and I really mean everyone!) should take one day a week to unplug from work. I observe the sabbath on Sundays. That means no work. And you know what happens when you don’t work? More time to relax, read, cook, go to church, workout, meditate, get outdoors, enjoy the people you love, take a nap, and everything else you say you “don’t have enough time to do.” I used to work 3 jobs, 7 days a week. I thought I could never take Sundays off. What I found was that I became much more productive (and health and happy) when I committed to resting each Sunday. Like meditation, it’s one of those things that is so beneficial and easy to do. 2012 is the year to work a sabbath into your life.
6. Sleep well – I wrote an entire post on How to Sleep Better Than Ever Before. It’s packed with tips based on a lot of research and experimentation. If you want to sleep better, everything you need to know is in that post. Sleep is so important, yet few of us think about the best way to sleep. Follow my suggestions and you will sleep like a baby.
7. Read everyday – This has been a pleasant surprise. Reading everyday, especially in the morning, is great. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed setting aside 30 minutes in the mornings to read. I make a big cup of tea and enjoy one of the many books sitting next to my bed. I used to feel like I didn’t have enough time to read during the week. Now I’m loving the feeling of getting through my reading list. I don’t use a tablet because I like to feel the pages. I also only read books – no blogs or other online content. Reading daily is such a simple and enjoyable habit to form.
8. Replace to-dos with rituals – The key to forming good habits is to make them part of your “rituals.” I have a morning ritual, afternoon ritual, and Sunday ritual. I’ve experimented with evening rituals. I have friends who celebrate failure with rituals. It’s just a great way to bundle good habits into regular times that you set aside to prepare yourself for the life you want. Read this post on afternoon rituals to understand what I mean. I got the idea from the book The Power of Full Engagement. The authors of this book noticed the best athletes all have rituals (like dribbling the ball three times before each free throw). Rituals help you form habits, and as I like to say, “habit is destiny.”
Here’s to a great 2012 filled with life-changing habits.