In 2018 I sensed a change in my thinking and attitude towards life. A little fed up with being in a constant state of feeling stressed and moody I began to seek ways to improve, (a lot of this was probably as a result of me turning forty at the end of last year, let’s face it). I thus set about incorporating a few new habits and adopting a better outlook on life, which has improved my overall happiness.
The things I did in 2018 were small. Nothing here is exactly groundbreaking, but they’ve really given me the tools to be happier. Here’s what they are:
Drink more water
It sounds simple, but as a result I’ve seen benefits to my skin (it definitely glows more). By drinking more water I also drink less sugary drinks such as coke and juice, and less caffeine, because I’m basically hydrated enough. I bought myself a refillable water bottle and fill it twice a day (that’s drinking about 2 litres a day). Whenever you read ANY list online about improving your moods, being healthier etc, it always advises that you drink more water. The science is there guys!
I don’t know why, because I am from such a humble background and my parents have such good values, but for some reason I have never focused on being grateful before. I have always *thought* I was a positive, upbeat person, but I don’t think I was, because I don’t believe I have ever been content in a particular moment. And yet, now that I practice gratitude, it makes a lot of common sense.
I shared a post on it recently, which I wrote here, where I said that I have used a journal to help remind me every day why I should be grateful. It’s simple stuff such as ‘had a lovely hour at the park with the twins’, or ‘really enjoyed date night with Dave’ and totally reminds me what’s important to me. Since starting it in 2018 I’ve realised that I mostly highlight moments/activities spent with the people I love rather than buying new products or things. I’ve concluded that I have stopped chasing materialistic items that I think will bring me happiness and really focused more on the special people I have in my life.
Yep, that old chestnut. Another thing that I realised in 2018 is that, whilst I am not uber sporty or competitive, I do need to workout to feel good about myself. As Polly Vernon said in a Grazia column this month, “Endorphins are better than cocaine. Cake. And Gucci. And likes”. Exactly this. I don’t work out to look hot, I don’t have abs, I certainly wouldn’t beat most of my friends in a race, but I do exercise that I enjoy and that keeps my mind positive/my outlook rosy. It’s something I actually can’t live without now.
Read and listened more
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books”. – Roald Dhal.
How true is this quote? I (now) read everything from self-help to popular fiction. I aim to read a chapter or two a night, but if not, no worries. Since I stared reading more in 2018 I have felt more intelligent, more enlightened and I feel as though I am spending my down-time in a far more fulfilling way.
I also LOVE a good podcast too; they’re incredibly powerful, plus I am fascinated with the psychology of people and their relationships. A podcast interview always feels more intimate than reading one in a magazine (like a therapy session); the interviewees often open up far more and reveal their inner most thoughts. For a list of my top 5 favourite podcasts you can find them here.
Lowered my standards
I wrote a post in 2018 that was one of my most read, about giving up the crazy pursuit of perfectionism and lowering my ridiculously high standards for work, relationships, housework, parenting etc. It got some great feedback — many of you felt the same.
Most of the high standards were from my own-doing — they’ve been in my head throughout my life — and in 2018 I really questioned myself as to why I was running around (exhausting myself) trying to ‘achieve’ a perfect life to project to the outside world. Since being more selective about what I do now (I tidy less, I let the kids have more fun, I spend less time on social media) I’m feeling far LESS pressure on myself to literally do it all. You can read the full post here.
So 2018 was a far more positive year for me overall and I’m hoping to carry on in this direction into 2019 too. Who’s up for it too, and with me?
Written by Editor, Jess Soothill