7 Small Everyday Habits That Can Vastly Improve Your Life

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This question originally appeared on Quora: What are small everyday habits that can vastly improve your life?

Here are 7 tiny things I do every day that are absolutely crucial to my development as a person—and I can tell you from experience that when I DON’T do them, things start to fall apart.

1) Morning Meditation

I cannot stress this enough. Some people say “I don’t like to meditate” or “I just can’t get into it.” Look, there is extreme value in learning how to sit in silence for a few moments. Call it whatever you want. If the first thing you do in the morning (personally I like to do it after my morning shower so I’m a bit more awake) is sit for 5-10 minutes in silence and just listen—listen to the sounds around you, the heater, the whir of the fan, the traffic outside your window—you will learn to hear your true self. You will learn the difference between inward and outward seeking, between always reaching for more and realizing that everything you need is right where you already are. This shift in BEING is monumental.

2) Eat A Healthy Breakfast

It doesn’t matter if I have to wake up at 3am for a 5am flight, or if I have a 6am meeting, or if I’m camping in the woods and I have to wake up with the sunset to go hike for 15 miles, I always, every day, without fail, make time for a healthy breakfast.

This meal is the foundation of your day. This is what sets the right things in motion. This is also another opportunity to get your head straight and in the zone for all that you have to set out to do today.

EAT BREAKFAST.

3) Make Time To Breathe

I work in advertising. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize the speed at which this industry operates. I’m glued to my phone and/or laptop.

Once every 90 minutes or so, I get up and walk outside. I look up at the clouds, I take a few deep breaths, I do a “check in” to see where I’m at (am I frustrated with a project? Am I thinking about something else? Am I feeling excited about something?) and then I decide where I should move to next. By the time I walk back inside, I know exactly what I’m going to work on for the next ~90 minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Some days, I only get to do this once. Some days, not at all. But in setting it as a habit to do it as often as I can, it has helped me begin to see tasks differently, time differently, and to remember to stay aware while I work so that I can maintain a sense of inner calm.

Trust me, the people that do this well are the ones who do so much you wonder how they ever sleep. I’ll let you in on a little secret. They do sleep. And they also rest a lot. And that’s why they’re so successful.

4) Get Back Into Your Body

Entrepreneur or Corporate Cubicle Worker, we all sit and stare at screens all day, every day.  And trust me, I’m a huge supporter of technology (I’m actually writing a book about my experiences spending thousands of hours as a teenager in front of my computer playing World of Warcraft at a pro level –#LFATG).

If you want to maintain balance and flow in your life, you HAVE to find a way to get back into your body. You’re in your head all day. Numbers. Excel sheets. Proposals. Emails. Social media—DING DING DING DING DING—going off non stop. At some point you need to step away and bring things back to a place of feeling.

Go to the gym. Do some yoga. Go for a run. Bike around the city. Whatever. But make time to get back into your body.

5) Have A Hobby

This is something I couldn’t imagine living without. It could be anything from drawing little stick figures in a notebook you keep to yourself, to making music, or painting, or writing poems, or building rocking chairs, or knitting sweaters, or whatever. But there is so much value in having something that you make for yourself.

There’s also something to be said for this to be creative. I think collecting baseball cards or something can work too (after all, I was an avid Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh card player in my day), as long as its something where you can remember, no matter how old you get, that you still have an imagination.

6) Keep A Journal/Notebook Of Ideas

I’m stealing this from James Altucher. I think everyone should have a notebook where they write down thoughts during the day, ideas that come to mind, lists of things they want to do, etc.  It will inspire you—or make you realize how much you “say” you want to do and never actually do, which hopefully will piss you off enough to take action.

Buy a journal and put it in your bag or backpack. Write down interesting things. Don’t just ignore your ideas. Make them tangible and you’ll see what happens.

7) READ

One of the best things you can do for yourself is read. Not that garbage on Buzzfeed or PerezHilton. Buy books. Read books. Read during your morning commune (unless you’re driving, then audio books). Read at night before you go to bed instead of lounging in front of another Netflix show (I know they’re addicting but are they really helping you grow?). Read, read, read. Read about things you want to know more about. Read good fiction. Read good nonfiction. Read about things you don’t know about. Read about things you don’t agree with so you can be more educated. Read what other people recommend (books come into your life for a reason). Read and you will see good things come. You’ll find your conversations carry more depth. You’ll find you can add more value to situations. You’ll find yourself hungry to learn more, faster, all the time.

If it’s any motivation, I HATED reading growing up. Hated it. I maybe read 5 books in total before I graduated high school. But as soon as I got into the writing department in college and I realized how well-read my peers were, I felt like an idiot and went nuts. I read everything I could get my hands on and still do.

I read a lot. On my blog I give readers #ABookAWeek – Nicolas Cole Blog.

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Nicolas Cole is an artist, writer, creative marketing strategist and self development coach. He’s also a Quora contributor. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

7 Small Everyday Habits That Can Vastly Improve Your Life