A woman enjoying a healthy, fresh salad.
A woman enjoying a healthy, fresh salad. Credit: Getty Images

A wise person once said, “We are the sum total of our choices.” One of the reasons for that is, once our choices become habitual, we’re on auto-pilot. Literally. Scientists estimate that 95% of our brain activity is unconscious, meaning that the majority of the decisions we make and actions we take on a daily basis are habits—habits borne of our choices. But we have the power to consciously make new and healthier choices that can lead to new and healthier habits. With that in mind, here are 10 habits you may want to start programming into your daily lives.

1. Make your bed

Not only will it feel good to get into a made bed at night, but it’s important for the success of your day. Making your bed first thing every morning gives you one small win to start your day, which subconsciously motivates you to achieve more small wins—possibly thousands of small wins—throughout the day. And yes, small wins lead to bigger ones. For some, getting into a made bed at night is a positive way to end the day. But long before you go night-night, research shows that making your bed is one of the most common daily habits you can incorporate to boost happiness.

2. Organize your things-to-do list around life goals

On my first day of college, I made a “Things to Do” list. I had never heard of such a list, and never made one before that day, but I haven’t stopped since. I’m not claiming to be the inventor of this habit, I’m just saying getting started doing it can stick with you. But a way to make that list even stronger is to make sure that everything on your list is about moving you closer toward achieving whatever long-term goals you have. One suggestion: Before making your to-do list, ask yourself where do you want to be in 5-10 years. Making your to-do list with goals in mind will show you where you should be spending time. And just as important, this can show you where you can be spending less time. Sure, you’ll have those more mundane (less sexy) things to do. But make sure your list prioritizes actions aimed at your big life goals.

3. Eat more leafy greens

The vast majority of health issues can be traced back to diet. Leafy greens are a big part of nature’s medicine. One way to get started, especially if you’re vegetable-averse, is to add leafy greens to at least two meals a day (ex: Add spinach to an omelet, throw kale in a pasta sauce, order a side salad when eating out, etc.). This is a simple habit that can have profound effects on your mind, body and spirit health.

4. Give yourself deadlines

Deadlines help folk get things done. There’s a science behind this, but that’s less important than the fact that no matter how small or specific the task, a realistic deadline can literally help you get it done. And if you let a friend or family member know your deadline, they can help hold you accountable.

5. Move somethin’

We all need that momentary pause from uninterrupted work to clear our heads and refresh. Most of us use that break time to jump on social media. But instead of scrolling through all your accounts before you get back to the J-O-B, get up and move somethin’. Move that body. Stretch. Get in a few deep knee bends, jumping jacks or downward dogs. Or you might wanna dance, walk, stretch or all of the above. Any one of these can and will energize your body, reset your mind, and help you focus better for the rest of the day.

6. Read more

Reading is not only enjoyable; it’s good for you. Whether it’s winding down before bed, taking a break in the afternoon, or as the ritual that you look forward to when starting your day, fit in some reading time. I use to be the most avid reader in my household. But now, my wife and children read me under the table. And for any students out there, what I discovered from personal experience and from my years as a college prep counselor is, two of the most important skills that lead to college success is developing a reading discipline and knowing how to write. Writing well is a superpower. But so too is developing your reading muscle. Some folk simply love to read. If that’s not you, you can still develop a reading habit/discipline. It’s not only good for lifelong learning, but its good for your body and spirit, as well.

7. Sit up straight

Doctors and scientists believe your posture might be affecting your physical and mental health. Practice better posture for overall health by straightening your back and relaxing your shoulders. Start consistently working on improving posture throughout your workday. This is a “small” habit that can offer you “huge” results.

8. Say “no” when you mean no

So many folk say “yes” when they really wanna say “hell no.” They find themselves doing favors for others when they’re already stretched too thin and hanging out when the rather be at home, chillin’. One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself is to say what you mean and be true to what you need. The key: recognizing that your time, energy and needs are just as important as anybody else’s. It’s okay to prioritize you. You’re worth it.

9. Mute (or unfollow) most social media accounts

For eons, parents have told their children, “Be mindful of the company you keep.” Denzel Washington has a long and powerful quote about this, that basically says you’re the sum of the five people you spend your time with. The same is true for those five people you consume on social media. Why subject yourself to social media accounts that make you feel less than the divine being you were created to be? If what you consume online isn’t uplifting your spirits, expanding your vision of what’s possible or raising your confidence in self, then why voluntarily expose yourself to that mess? You can just as easily follow folk whose careers you admire, whose words challenge you to see things differently, and whose posts inspire you to be your best self.

10. Get more sleep

This one is especially for me, because I’m known to keep late hours. But no matter how heavy your workload, getting more sleep is not impossible. It’s a habit just like anything else; a habit you have the power to create for yourself. Create a relaxing sleep environment. Cut down on caffeine, especially at night. Put the phone away. Find that number of sleep hours that leave you feeling energized when you wake up.

(Source:https://theeverygirl.com/ contributed to this article)

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...