With self-improvement, it’s easy to intellectually obsess over ideas. But practical information that can be easily absorbed and applied is essential you’re going to improve your quality of life. So lately I’ve been asking myself if what everyone is reading is translating into some positive change. To that end, I’ve also been wondering if what I’m writing is helping others.
If an article or book fails to stimulate the reader, such that they’re not able to connect the dots in their life in a new way, then either it’s not relevant (in which case, they shouldn’t have been reading it in the first place) or the author hasn’t crafted the content well enough.
It’s worth doing a filter test with anything you read by first asking yourself: Does this book or article seem like it can help me improve my life?
(Each book or article can only ever improve the quality of your life by 1-5%. But when you read and apply information from dozens of books and articles, those little blocks of 1-5% can create powerful, lasting changes in your productivity and happiness.)
I hope this article provides you with just at least a 1% improvement in your quality-of-life.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own” – Bruce Lee.
1) Spend more time reading Books and Articles that lead to Positive change
I could easily spend hours reading books on the history of the world. But while I do appreciate the lessons the past has to offer us, I realize that the amount of potential benefit I’ll be getting in this category of books (concerning how my behaviours change for the better) is limited.
So, from that perspective, it’s more helpful to read books and articles related to Psychology, Habit change, Time Management, Health, Spirituality etc. That’s because the level of knowledge I have in these areas affects the way I lead my life more profoundly.
For instance, if I’m aware of what daily habits will improve my mood and apply them, I’ll be a happier person. If I know and consume the foods that go well with my metabolic type, then I’m likely to feel and perform better in all my activities. If I know certain spiritual truths, then I’ll approach trivialities with greater openness and acceptance.
Takeaway: Look into particular categories of books and articles where you feel your knowledge is weak and where it’s directly translatable to a change in your habits. For example, when I felt my time management skills needed improving, I started focusing more of my reading in that area.
Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.” – Napoleon Hill. Potential value for your week if applied: 1% (52% Improvement in your ‘Knowledge’ in a year)
2) Switch your phone off one day per week
I put my phone on flight mode every night and make sure it’s left outside the bedroom. After my morning routine, I disable flight mode and get that nice dopamine rush from those ushering notifications. To be honest, I’m not that popular so I don’t get that many.
But I only unlock my phone so to speak, once my habits, such as Meditation, Stretching, and Reading have been taken care off. So I don’t start each day with the varying pings and requests that inevitably come flying in.
Since Monday sets the tone for the week, I find that it’s important that I do whatever I can to prioritize all my attention to what’s most important in my work-life on this day. So after a quick check in the morning, I keep my phone off for the rest of the day, each Monday Social media, missed calls, and texts can wait. (if i can’t do Mondays because I’m expecting a call, I do another day).
More often that not, I don’t end up missing anything urgent. Plus, I tend to be less attached to my phone for the rest of the week. I’ve taken this further by installing TimeUsed on Android (Moment – alternative for iPhone), which shows me how much time I’ve spent looking my screen on any given day.
Takeaway: Consider keeping your phone off one day per week.
“Life is what’s happening when you’re looking at your smartphone.” – Anonymous. Potential value to your week if applied: 1% (52% Improvement in your ‘Peace of Mind’ in a year)
3) Eat the same Breakfast or Lunch every day
Every day we make hundreds of little decisions, but perhaps the one we antagonise over the most is what we’re going to eat. All that mental energy could be spent elsewhere. Certain foods can affect the way we feel and think and in profound ways.
Just try eating two croissants with butter and jam before your workout and see how you feel. Or maybe have a certain brand of cereal that you’ve never tried and go to work. Likely, you won’t be pleased with the way you feel in either scenario.
By automating one of your meals, you reduce the chance of eating foods that just don’t vibe with your unique biochemistry by a 1/3 (if you eat 3 meals a day). You’ll also end up experiencing less decision fatigue and stress. The counter-argument might be “Well eating the same food for a meal daily is annoying as heck”.
But I think that if you pick a group of foods that you love for one of your daily meals, you’ll never get bored of it until at least three months (at which point you can then change it up again for variety).
Takeaway: What are the healthy foods do you absolutely love that you can consume daily?
“A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods” – Mason Currey. Potential value to your week if applied: 1% (52% Improvement in your Health in a year)
4) Every Morning or Early Afternoon (Mon-Fri), write/think of Two Fun Things you Plan on doing that Evening
Work can make us serious and cerebral if we don’t make sure to smile along the way. Having something to look forward to (not in an escapist way) means that no matter what comes up, you have those two end of the day celebrations that you know will be there waiting for you.
It could be playing with your pet, watching a TV show with your loved one, or going to an event, or meeting with friends. Whatever it may be, set an intention for it in advance so that you have something to at least look forward to.
I’ve noticed that whenever I go to bed without enjoying those small rewards, I don’t get that great of sleep and I wake up less happy and a little more grumpy. I’ve also noticed the same with other people. So it’s important that we do something fun that stimulates us each day.
Takeaway: Introduce a little anarchy in your evenings.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – Proverb. Potential value to your week if applied: 1%. (52% Improvement in your ‘Fun’ in a year)
5) Write down your mistakes and worries on a little Note
It’s funny how much we beat ourselves up over the little problems and mistakes that creep up in a day. And they creep up every single day no doubt, and usually, we get frustrated with ourselves as a result. Then we get into a mental game of Street fighter where we KO ourselves round after round. This cycle can start one day, continue the next, and so forth. Before we know it, we’re feeling unhappy with life on a whole.
This partly stems from a perfectionist mind-set. No absurdities, worries, or mistakes can creep up. We can’t feel bad and have it be okay. No everything needs to be AMAZING every single day. And because we don’t end up living up to standard, we get depressed when all we need to do is the accept the feelings that are coming in.
So I’ve got a little note in Google Keep that I call ‘Worries and Mistakes box’. Every time I notice a little weed prodding in my mind I write it down in this Keep note. Just giving it that attention seems to calm the gremlin noises in my head down. So for instance, as of writing this, I ate some bad food last night, and as a result, I didn’t sleep that great. I could either let that mistake from yesterday derail my present day, or I could acknowledge it by writing it down.
Takeaway: Dissolve the power your negative thoughts have over you by writing them down.
“Labeling our thoughts helps us break the self-identification with the thought.” – Karla Helbert. Potential value to your week if applied: 1%. (52% ‘Stress Reduction’ in a year)
So that’s it! Those are the five unique ideas you’ll want to implement if you want to lead a more powerful and meaningful life. If you’re a creative and you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to increase your odds of living more meaningfully each week, I’m going to give you a Free Bonus to help.
In the meantime, which of the five habits will you use consistently to improve the quality of your life?