Five Habits to Enlighten Your Life

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Have you ever found yourself in a slump, and you think to yourself how did I get here and how the heck do I get out of this? Well, what if you could come out of that sinking feeling and be an even better person than you were before? It's possible. We sometimes think that in order to get out of slump or a toxic situation we need to make a radical change to become ourselves again. The reality is, making small changes to your mind, body and daily routine can drastically improve all aspects of life from work, to social situations, to the clarity of your own mind.

Wake up earlier.

Before graduating college I read an article from Business Insider that featured a long list of successful people who were early risers. I thought, I want to be successful and decided to test the theory out myself. After a week of feeling generally tired, I got the routine down. My first alarm went off at 5:45AM and the second would go off at 6:00AM to make sure I had gotten up. My body started adjusting to the early wake-up call and would naturally feel sleepy between 9:30-10:00PM.

It is incredible how accomplished we can feel by getting a few more things done in the day. By waking up even just an hour earlier, we allow ourselves the time to enjoy our morning coffee, a workout before heading to work and time to make ourselves presentable for the day. The benefits of these extra hours can be rewarding. Enjoying your morning adds meaning to the day; where it doesn't consist solely of work and sleep, but you can also look forward to your morning coffee or a run. The workouts clear your mind, set a healthy tone for the day and are an instant mood booster knowing that you are starting your morning on the right foot (literally). This routine, over time, will generate a positive mindset and give you more energy than before.

Write everything down.

When I say write everything down, I mean everything. One of the best things I did for myself in college was to invest in a desk calendar. By taking all of my syllabi at the beginning of the semester and writing down the due dates of every single project, assignment and exam, my grades significantly improved. Since then, I have transitioned into using my phone and my calendar to keep track of all of my appointments for me (I mean, we are the tech based generation). You can set your calendar to remind you an hour, a day or even a week ahead of important events. It also lets you make plans with ease knowing exactly when and where you'll be at a particular time or day.

This habit translates well at work too. Especially when starting a new job, it is important to write all your training notes down and keep them handy at your desk. There will come a day where you will thank yourself for writing down instructions on how to print a spreadsheet, the names of the department heads from the meeting you had last week or the project details that your boss told you five minutes ago.

Listen to your inner dialogue.

This is the most influential change that can make a big difference. Our subconscious spends a lot of time making decisions for us that shape how we feel. Have you ever woken up from a dream then felt off for the rest of the day but you can't remember what the dream was about? Well, that's what the subconscious is doing in the back of our minds 24/7. Once you learn to catch your subconscious in action you can start to shape your thoughts and take control of your feelings.

 Me on the 1 train.  (Credit: KC Green)

Me on the 1 train. (Credit: KC Green)


I started noticing my negative thoughts on my morning commute on the subway. I would catch myself having these unfavorable views of my situation (i.e. a hot and humid train) then I would think to myself, No this isn't you. Let's turn this around. and then I would pick something out that I liked about that situation (like the fact that I live in one of the greatest cities in the world). By listening to your internal dialogue, you will quickly realize how often you have negative thoughts throughout the day and the way that they can shape your mood. Working on turning them all into something positive, you will quickly see yourself become much less judgmental and your mood greatly improve. Even while dripping sweat on the train you just have to think to yourself, Well at least everyone else here is just as hot. I've got this!

Ask yourself questions.

This is another important one that flows with your subconscious thoughts and the habits they form. Long hours in the office can make the days start to blend together and soon you're thinking, It's already almost fall?! A good way to get yourself thinking and appreciating each day is to start your morning by asking yourself some thought-provoking questions. Who do you love? What do people love about you? How can you better yourself today? What about life do you enjoy? What are you grateful for today? Keep a notepad at your desk and write three things down each morning that you're thankful for when you get to work; try to make it part of your morning routine. It may not happen everyday, but when you do remember, it's an easy way to make a positive impact on the day. Doing this has helped me become thankful and appreciative for what each day brings. It also has given me a chance to reflect on the day before and separates the days apart from each other.

Get a breath of fresh air.

This can be taken in a literal or mental sense, for a few minutes or for a week. You deserve a break. Work can be stressful, mind-numbing and life-consuming. Give yourself time to recollect yourself to avoid getting burnt out and producing below-par work. My favorite form of fresh air is literal. You can eat lunch at your desk and then spend your lunch break walking laps around the block while blasting your favorite peppy music in your ear buds. It is a huge release to be able to move your legs, enjoy your surroundings and shut out everyone around you for a moment of the day after being stuck in never-ending meetings or staring at a computer screen all morning. You can also "get some air" in a more mental sense. If you can't get out of the office for an hour, try to get out for a few minutes or walk around the floor to get your blood pumping. Maybe you need to let some frustration out; call someone you trust and vent - let it out.  My mom is my go-to person for all of life's complaints, little does she know how much of a relief it is to be able to get my frustrations off my chest.

While nobody in this world is perfect, it is important to remember that only you can make the changes necessary to change your life for the better. Only you can choose what you let affect you and how you react to the negative things around you. By making small changes like setting a positive tone to your mind, body and perception you can make a huge positive impact on your life as a whole.