“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.”
Madame Marie du Deffand
Making a positive change in your life does not have to be about making a huge leap. But I believe that belief is one of those things that hold people back from improving their life and world.
A simpler way that more often results in actual action being taken and new habits being established – in my life at least – is to take smaller steps but many of them. So here are 10 ways to change your life in just 2 minutes or so a day. Through these small steps you can start to build habits that become stronger and over time can change your life in ways you perhaps can’t imagine now.
To remember to actually do one of the things below each day write down a simple reminder. Put it on your night table so that you see it when you wake up each morning. Or put the note in your workspace so you see it early in your day. If you like and if possible, expand on the small habit after a week or two and do it for just a few more minutes a day.
1. Just start working for 2 minutes on your most important task.
I use this one at least one day every week. On some days I simply don’t feel like getting started with work. I’d much rather stay lazily on the sofa. So on such days I just start to work for 2 minutes on my most important task. That is the deal.
The thing is: getting started is pretty much always the hardest part. After I have started moving and been at work for those 2 minutes it is usually pretty easy or simple to just continue working on that task.
2. Review and appreciate your day at the end of it.
If you do good things during the day and get things done then that can raise your self-esteem. If you reflect upon that you have done so that is.
So take two minutes of the end of your workday. Appreciate what you did and what you thought.
That is what I will do when I am done with this article and workday.
3. Set a low bar for happiness for the day.
Lately I have been telling myself this when I wake up in the morning: “Have a low bar for happiness today.”
As I tell myself this and try to keep it in mind during the day I appreciate things more. The food, my work, the weather, the small events of the day becomes not everyday stuff but something I feel happy to have. The small or what may be something one takes for granted becomes something I now often pause for a moment or two to take in and appreciate.
But if I become happier in my everyday life for the smaller things does that mean that I become unmotivated to keep working towards the bigger things?
This way of looking at my life actually fuels me with more energy and inspiration and fun, life becomes lighter and I feel less inner resistance as I explore and work towards both small and bigger things.
4. Breathe when stressed.
When stress catches up with you, when you start to feel anxious, irritated and or fearful because of it then take 2 minutes. Sit down. Breathe rather deeply with your belly. Focus on just for your breathing for those 2 minutes. This will calm your mind and body down and you can resume your work in a calmer mood after that.
5. Open up your senses to what is here now.
Pull yourself out of the past where you relive an old conflict and drag yourself further down a depressing spiral. Pull yourself out of the the future where you imagine a catastrophe at your next meeting, date or presentation. Place yourself and your attention on where you really are. Here now.
Do so by sitting down for 2 minutes. See what is right in front of you. Listen to the birds and cars outside. Feel the spring sun shining in through the window onto your clothes and skin. Sense the small draft from one of the windows. Smell the flowers and trees that have started to bloom.
Be here fully with all your senses for those 2 minutes. This will calm your mind and body down. Thinking will become easier and an optimistic viewpoint will feel more natural.
6. When you feel the need to judge someone tap into understanding instead.
When you feel the need to judge someone you know or may not know then take 2 minutes. Ask yourself these two questions: What parts of this person can I see in myself? How is he or she like me?
Why do that instead of judging?
Because no one wants to be judged in a negative way and doing so to the people in your life doesn’t help to build good relationships. Plus, the amount you tend to judge others often is a similar amount that you judge yourself. So help yourself to live a more positive life in those two ways by pausing when feeling the need to judge and then choose something better.
7. Think for a minute and give someone a genuine compliment.
Spend one minute coming up with something you really and genuinely appreciate about someone in your life and that is in the same room as you at some point during the day. Spend the other minute or less on telling him or her the compliment.
She or he will be happy. You’ll feel good about yourself and probably get some positive feelings too from the now happy and complimented person. It’s a good and small way to build more positive relationships.
It’s a small thing but physical intimacy can reduce stress and make us feel good. So spend 2 minutes of your day on hugging. Like compliments it can be a simple way to build warmer and more positive relationships with all kinds of people in your life. Just use your common sense before you start hugging.
9. Be interested instead of interesting.
At the start of a conversation or to break the ice spend two minutes on asking one or a couple of questions about someone you are talking to and his or her life.
Pay attention and don’t just wait for your turn to talk again. The interest you give will most likely be returned and you can start to build not only a good conversation but also a giving and fulfilling relationship for the two of you no matter what kind of relationship it may be.
10. Mix things up.
Try the opposite. Have the vegetarian dish if you always go for the meat. Walk away from a stupid conflict instead of making it worse. Let one thing go if you often cling to things. Say yes to something spontaneous if you often say no and stick within your daily routine.
Take 2 minutes or less in one common or negative situation in your life today, pause for a brief reflection and then make a decision that is uncommon for you.
Make a habit of mixing things up to have more fun. To grow your life in small or bigger ways. To add unexpected experiences. To make it easier and simpler to step out of your comfort zone in general when you really need to.
And to feel alive.