The other day I had an epiphany while I was drying my hair. As usual, my thoughts were all over the place, jumping from personal reminders to work tasks to anticipated conversations to goal setting for 2016. I was debating whether I would make an official list of my goals for 2016, but as I mentally went through my list I realized that something was still missing.
After some careful thought, it hit me. I’ve focused so much on big, time-consuming goals and aspirations that I’ve forgotten about many of the simple, daily habits that create happiness in my life! In fact, life has felt a bit chaotic and unorganized for some time now, and it’s because I’ve let a lot of these daily habits slide. As I stood there blasting my hair, I realized I need to change my focus. What’s the point of setting goal after goal if the process itself doesn’t feel peaceful? Rather than plough ahead with tunnel vision locked only on the goals, this year I’m going to make room for the daily habits that bring me consistent joy – the ones that I haven’t allowed myself to make time for in a long while. I’m going to call these my “Daily Habits for Happiness”, and I truly believe that this approach can change my life.
What do I mean by daily habits for happiness? It’s anything that you can easily accomplish in your day to day life that makes you feel really good. These are often things that we brush off or let fall by the wayside because they aren’t given as much priority or importance as other things, but their potential to improve our quality of life is HUGE!
There are many things that I’m doing successfully each day (such as dedicated family time, exercise, etc), but there are many things that I can start doing to increase happiness quite easily. Here are some that I came up with. This list is a work in progress, and I’ll be adding to it as I see fit.
Make my bed each morning
I haven’t taken the time to make the bed consistently in the morning for umm….years? Since my mama told me to? In my defense, Eric doesn’t make it consistently either! The thing is, having my bed made in the morning makes me feel quite accomplished, but I’ve always told myself that other tasks are much more important and “I don’t have time”. Well, no more! It doesn’t actually take very long, but it sets the tone for the whole day and I feel like the reward outweighs any time spent on it. (I fear that I may fail miserably with this habit, but 3 days into 2016 I’m still on a killer bed making streak!!)
Shift workouts back to the morning
Speaking of convincing myself (or even bribing myself) – morning workouts! Because our schedule was so unpredictable last year (and still is at times), I shifted many of my workouts to the evening after Adriana went to bed. It seemed like the best time of the day for minimal interruptions (sleep regressions aside), but I started to really miss having restorative downtime at night. I recently started shifting my workouts back to the morning. I have Eric to thank for motivating me because he’s been rocking the early morning workouts with his buddy for a while. It’s challenging for me to workout first thing, but I always feel great when I do it. (If you’re curious – I’m doing a combo of running on my treadmill and online Barre workouts right now. I hope to add an in-person weekly barre or yoga class to my routine soon.)
It’s amazing how much toys can take over our living room and kitchen area during the day (and how many times I manage to trip or hurt myself). We got into the habit of leaving the toys scattered all over the house because we were too tired to put them away before bed. But it really makes a huge difference to come out to a tidy room in the morning, rather than chaos. Now we do a quick tidy up after she goes down at night. It takes just a minute or two, but it makes me so happy to walk out in the morning and see a semi-tidy room (even if it doesn’t last!). The same goes for daily tidying other areas of the house…a quick vacuum in the kitchen and dining area does wonders for my mood.
Eric and I recently decided to disable the push notification setting on our Gmail accounts. I can’t take credit – it was his idea and I jumped on board. No longer will I be alerted every time an email pops into my inbox (which can feel disruptive and stressful – especially when it’s during the evening or on weekends). For years I’ve worked all hours of the day and on weekends. This year, email notifications are turned off and I’m checking email at dedicated times during working hours. Obviously, there will be times when I will have to break this rule, but I aim to make them far and few between.
I also find that staying on top of unsubscribing from emails and filtering out spam helps on the email front. I did it last year and it made a huge difference. I want to keep up with both of these daily habits this year.
Relaxed lunch + tea/coffee rituals
Adriana shifted from 2 naps to 1 nap a day in November. Now she goes down for her afternoon nap between 12-1pm each day. I used to eat my lunch while feeding her lunch, but I rarely got to enjoy my lunch before it got cold, or I just scarfed it down in record time without truly enjoying it. I can’t blame her though, I used to work through my lunches for years before she was born. Recently, I’ve started to make my lunch after she goes down for her nap. I find that it’s a lot more rejuvenating for me to have this downtime mid-day. I also aim to have a morning, afternoon, and evening coffee/tea/tonic ritual too.
Connecting with friends/family
This could be a lunch with a friend, a date with my coach, a late dinner at home with Eric, a girl’s get together, or a simple phone call. These connections increase happiness a lot, especially during the winter when it’s easy to hibernate.
I’m not forgetting about my big goals for 2016 because there are many that I’m super excited about. However, this year I’m making time for the “smaller” things that help me feel balanced, peaceful, and organized on a day to day basis. This is the year that the small becomes the big. I’d love it if you joined along with me!
Cheers to 2016, friends. I hope it’s off to a great start in your neck of the woods!
Photo credit: Sandy Nicholson
We have some similar new year resolutions. I just wanted to give a shout out to all the inspiration you have distilled in me. I started veganism 5 years ago, I started to follow your blog (my first blog I ever followed) and would always be checking it everyday in anticipation for your next blog post. Your blog inspired my food creations and eventually starting a blog of my own.
Anyway, I after all this time I still find myself coming back to your blog. You have such talent and I love viewing your posts to this day!
LOVE these! Making my bed has made such a big difference in my peace of mind (we also live in a studio so I can see the bed from…anywhere else in the room). Same for turning off notifications for email and social and using filters and folders to organize my gmail. It means I miss breaking news sometimes but my peace of mind is SO worth it.
Also, have you heard of the Desire Map? It’s a different way of goal-setting whereby you ditch traditional goals and instead focus on how you want to feel. Danielle LaPorte, who created the method, is big on the fact that the process should feel just as [insert your core desired feelings here] as the outcome. And that feeling good is the point of it all. It’s been really transformative for me – I use my core desired feelings as a mantra for tough meetings/workouts/days/times, to help me make decision a la “Is this going to help me feel more x?”, and more. I don’t work for Team D (though in full disclosure, I am an affiliate) but I’m a huge fan and like introducing people to her work. You can check it out here: http://www.daniellelaporte.com/?dlap=20122
I also LOVE Gretchen Rubin’s take on habits – which that there’s no one “right” way to create them. You gotta work with what you have. Her book Better than Before and her Podcast, Happier, have been a BIG part of my self-acceptance (her underlying message is that there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t fit the “typical” good habit profile) and positive habit-forming journey over the last 6 months.
I always try to set attainable intentions each year because i feel like it’s so important to feel like I’m accomplishing SOMETHING rather than feeling like I’m slacking, so this post really echoed my style! I HAVE to make the bed each day and clutter drives me nuts, so I’m always tidying. I read a book a few years back on cleaning and organizing (right up my type A alley…) that laid out a plan for cleaning 10-20 minutes each day, so that the whole house always looked great. I still implement this mindset and it gives me such a sense of peace and harmony in our home;) I commend you on two areas I really struggle with and that’s the dedicated family time and the coffee/tea/tonic time…our work schedules and having both a fourth grader involved in sports etcetera and a preschooler makes that quality time hard to come by. And it seems the only time I can find to enjoy a cup of tea is after everyone else is in bed. But I am inspired to look harder at each day and see what can be eliminated and used for the really important stuff. Like laughing with my kids, snuggling with my husband, a hot bubble bath and even that cup of tea. OH!! And vegan chessecake!!!!
Really amazing plan. It’s always tough for me to find time to tackle workouts, healthy workouts etc. This is something I have to work on in 2016!
Great article .I found this article really helpful and interesting to read .It is best article to read .A big thanks for sharing the article with us .
Just found your site and am enjoying it. I’m new to being a vegan and can use all the help I can get. Thanks for your input.
Great post. Another daily habit for the list for me is, don’t leave dishes in the sink.
Wow. I really love this and it completely inspired me! I hope you don’t mind me mentioning you in my post :)
This is wonderful, Angela! I really love the one about moving your workouts to the morning. I’ve started working out more in the evenings and it’s definitely not as pleasant. Thank you so much for sharing this, daily habits are what I want to work on this year too :) Please post updates!
What a wonderful post. It is amazing how little things like that can make such a huge difference in the day and life in general. I’m still working on adding the workouts to my morning routine, but making the bed I added a couple of months ago along with the daily tidying. Also started eating breakfast (before coffee) which is a first for me, probably since elementary school. Your recipes help that greatly. (Not so) patiently awaiting your next book.
There’s definitely to that saying, “it’s about the journey, not the destination”. The great thing about being goal-oriented is we tend to get a lot done and achieved when we have that mindset, but the whole ‘stopping to smell the roses’ idea can be lost on us! Thanks for the reminder, Ange.
I need to set a goal of doing daily email tidying. I have a decade of saved emails! (And I have no idea why i saved most of them.)
Love this ! I agree—-will make this a year to “Be more, do less” and focus on completing tasks in total before starting something new. And keep an intention in my heart daily after I write my Gratitude.
May this be a year of good health and all round blessings for each and every of us.
I absolutely LOVE your website and I just got your first cook book last week! I’ve been cooking up a Vegan storm since! This morning, I made the apple pie oatmeal and the seeding flatbread (OUT OF THIS WORLD!)
We have a lovely bistro here in West Palm Beach, FL called Darbster’s that is exclusively devoted to vegan cuisine, and I had a stuffed avocado there that was to die for. I can’t seem to find a recipe for a stuffed avocado anywhere. This one had nut cheese and some other delights in it. Do you have any stuffed avocado recipes to share? If not, no big deal. I eat avocados as is most of the time :)
Loving your blog, Angela! Keep up the great work!
I’m with you on the daily tidying. A clear space equals a clear mind!
Not sure if this has been recommended but you should take a look at The Happiness Planner by BrandMentalist. It’s a daily journal which really focuses your thinking on what makes you happy.
Hi, Angela! I recently just finished writing a similar post about daily habits I incorporate the combat the chaos that comes with being a special education teacher. After drafting it last week, I noticed how much more consistent I became! It feels great to have a few constants in my day. Also, stacking your habits (kind of clustering a few together) can help create a domino effect, making it much easier to complete multiple habits on your list, which will truly make it a habit.
If you haven’t discovered Leo Babauta (www.zenhabits.com) or Anthony Ongaro (www.breakthetwitch.com), I think you’d really enjoy reading their stuff. Your reflection on small habits making a big impact and distancing yourself from technology made me think of them immediately.
Wow, it is so inspiring! Health daily habits are life-changing.
My current daily habits: 20 minutes of meditation. reiki self treatment. do yoga. do one thing at time. drink my tea with mindfulness. turn off tv while eating. repeat a positive affirmation on morning.
thanks for sharing your secrets. gotta take it one day at a time. it’s tough sometimes to keep thoughts together enough to remember what my priorities are each day and not allow myself to take on tasks that aren’t really “important”, but really trying to stay organized and pare down is a good feeling.
That article resonates a lot with me…I gave birth in November and ever since my life seems to be a mess from dawn till dusk ;-) I am trying to put some of your ideas into practise, too. Thank you for your wonderful blog! I read it religiously and it is a constant source of inspiration!
Totally off-topic request: I started avoiding refined white sugar after reading The Kind Diet, sometime around when I started reading your site some five years ago. I really appreciate all of your recipes with low or no refined sugar. But usually if I want to make an old recipe with not that much sugar in it, I just swap out one for one with maple sugar. (Maple sugar promises to be more sweet than regular and says I can put in less, but I have not found that.) I was just curious, though, how you go about choosing which sweeteners you use in your baked goods. (Like, why coconut sugar one time and not another?) Would you write a blog post about what we need to know to bake with the different less-refined sugars? Please? Thanks!
This is exactly that, what is going in my life. :-D
Thanks for your blog. Now that I read this, I see clear!!!!
:) :) :) :)
Hi Angela, I’m not sure if you seen the new app developed by Jamie Oliver but it’s all about micro actions daily that help you to reach those bigger goals, it includes the small simple actions I think you’d really like it. I started a few months ago and found it has really helped me to remember to do the little things. Anyway it’s called You-app by Jamie Oliver. You can just goggle it. Thanks and by the way I’m a huge fan xx
Love all of these! It is so important to set intentions for the year, and I love what you have chosen!
Wishing you and your beautiful family all the best.
Great post, very inspiring!
Making the bed every morning sound simple but it is not hahaha.
Myself, I`ve never done it! I always wake up in a rush to go out to work. Hopefully I will change that soon!
I like to do a little bit of tidying each day so it doesn’t add up and then spend hours doing a massive clean! Also taking 10 mins each day for some meditation has made a huge difference too.
I’m new to reading this blog, but I have to say I really enjoyed reading your daily habits. A nice reminder that tiny changes make a big difference!
Added getting proper nap at night
As a business owner (not a mom yet!), I can completely understand all of these! I am definitely going to incorporate a few of these into my daily routine as well :)
Loving that tonic tea, especially in an effort to rid myself of a cold that won’t go away. I subbed chamomile tea (my local market didn’t have ginger?!) and sprinkled in ginger instead. Still pretty tasty- thanks for sharing.
Hi Erin, I hope the tea is helping! Get well soon. :)
Angela I love your website and your book. I am a carnivore but your food works for me and I love making your recipes. You work hard and I am impressed. I am definitely following your habits for happiness 2016 too. Mothers of small children have more energy than anyone I know so more strength and creativity will be coming your way as your daughter grows. I am an old lady now also so from experience I know this is true. I will enjoy your future creativity, as well as keeping up what you have taught me. God bless you.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Paula. I truly appreciate your thoughts and support!
I love these habits. A couple of things I do to make my mornings easier is, I always make sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed. No dishes in the sink, counters wiped and stove is clean. I work from home and the first couple of months were hard, I would lounge around in my pj’s until 1pm, a couple of times I got caught having to run something to schools for the kids. NO shower, teeth not brushes, no make up, etc. So now I get up about 20 minutes earlier, shower, get dressed and put on a bit of make up. If I’m caught having to run out, I’m ready. It also make me feel better about myself during the day, that I am, for me, put together. Thanks for the tips.
Thank you for sharing, Sheri!
Great habits for 2016 especially connecting with friends and family!
I also make my bed every morning.. husband does if he is working from home and last one out! It makes a huge difference to when I get home from work. Morning workout also the way to go. I am really in a workout slip but with summer here in 2 weeks I will emerge with vengeance! I am a teacher so summer has a very special meaning! I just recently discovered you not sure how but your cookbook looks intriguing I am not vegan or even remotely vegetarian but I am a cook and the recipes look dazzling and who would not want to glow? I am also in awe of you running in Ontario water while I live in San Diego.Gives me appreciation and perspective! Have you red The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? Another blogger turned author go getter like you! Congrats!
I read your blog quite often and I really like your recipes, they are so yammy)). And i want to know have you ever tried to use shilajit as a food supplement? It will be interesting to know your opinion about this product.
for additional info
Simplicity. I like it.
what a healthy lifestyle in a nutshell :)
I love your writing
Amazing post as always :)
still applicable in 2020 *wink