Ever noticed you’ve been scrolling so long on Instagram that the sun has set and you’re left lying in a dark room? Ever walked two or three times past a mirror only to pull out each flaw you see in the reflection one by one? I’m talking about habits. The things that fill our days without us even realising or setting time aside to complete them. Don’t get me wrong, brushing your teeth is a great habit, eating vegetables with dinner, taking off your make-up before bed or triple checking you’ve switched off your straighteners. Good or bad, we all have our habits so why not start creating them?
Let me share a story. It’s 7am and I’m on my way to catch the train to work. I’m dragging my feet as always and still blinking my tired puffy eyes from a late night Netflix marathon the night before. There’s the bin man at 7.05am doing his usual rounds clearing the high street and the family pouring into their car at 7.10am with toast in hand. A shop winds up its window at 7.15am and the 7.18am bus to Oxford Circus pulls into the station as I take the final turn. My belly rumbles and anticipates my 8am Starbucks breakfast but first there she is. The same smiley woman setting up her flower stand ready for the crowds to pour in. I’m one of hundreds yet she catches my eye and smiles at me every day and it’s like a chain reaction. I race down the escalator and smile at the man opposite me on the platform and I greet my friends as I walk into work. I’ve walked that route for 2 years and even when she isn’t there to greet me, I notice I’ll start smiling on my journey anyway.
I’ve noticed how that one smile, that small habit of greeting the flower lady each day completely transforms my mood. My headphones aren’t in blaring the latest Taylor Swift album and I don’t block out the world with my phone, I’m catching the eyes of others and spreading that one smile. It had me thinking what if habits like 4 sugars in a cup of tea or stuffing our clothes into a wardrobe weren’t all bad? What if we chose to create good habits that brighten our day and lift the moods of others?
I’ll give you a challenge. Buy an alarm clock so the first thing you see in the morning isn’t the latest beauty blender trend on Instagram or group chats from the day before flooding in. Turn your alarm off and do something you love. Music, drawing, reading, stretching, anything but make sure it’s something you LOVE. Now do this for 10 minutes every day this week and stick to it. Cover your mirror or fridge door with bright sticky note reminders and encouragements till you never forget, you just do it out of habit! I’m not suggesting a 10 mile run every day or never checking a mirror because sometimes we NEED to see that toothpaste mark spread across our face and can’t bear clocking up a marathon a week.
I’m talking small. I’m thinking right back to that 7.30am smile from the flower lady at the train station that takes me from exhaustion to joy. I’m talking smiles and generosity, self-care Saturdays and calling friends in the evenings, or saying ‘Yes’ more and trying something new every month.
Now if you’re really wondering how the story ends, I buy a bunch of flowers every Friday on my way back from work and we share our day’s events and plans for the weekend. Just small habits that we barely even notice yet they change everything! Let’s make it a challenge to notice what we think, say or do every day and turn it for good! I’ll start by skipping my midday iced coffee tomorrow and buying an extra bunch of flowers on Friday!
Photo by Drew Beamer