Good Habits

November 21, 2014 - 4 minute read -

I’m convinced that the secret to a happy life is to form good habits as early as possible. The earlier you make good habits, the more benefit you’ll get from them.

I didn’t form really good habits early on. I coasted through high school (so I didn’t learn how to study until first year), I didn’t start brushing my teeth until I was 12, and I played far too many video games. However, I’ve made some habits throughout my university career that I’m proud of.

Tweak Facebook

Sometimes a good habit is lack of a bad one. I remember at one point I was failing job interview after job interview, and I looked on my Facebook feed to see that all my friends were getting awesome jobs. It made me feel like shit. I unfollowed all those friends, and it made me feel a little better.

Later on I tried to recall if I ever was on Facebook and had a genuinely happy feeling. Facebook does a really good job of giving you FOMO (fear of missing out) and checking my newsfeed became part of my morning routine. It was almost like an addiction. So I started looking at Facebook in a new light.

Everytime I visited my newsfeed I would think to myself whether a post was something I cared about. If it wasn’t, then I would unfollow that person so their posts would not longer appear in my feed. Within a week I had unfollowed all of my friends. My newsfeed was empty and boring. I stopped checking it because I knew there would be nothing there anymore. And here’s the thing: I was totally fine with it.

I ended up freeing up a bunch of time and I’m a lot happier now.

But Facebook offers a lot of important things that I still value (which is why I never deactivated my account). Messenger is the biggest reason I still use it. I want to feel connected with my friends. Whenever I’m reminded of a person and I’m curious what they’re up to, I can search them and get an update on their life through Facebook. I like being able to do this at my discretion. It means that only people who I actually care about get time out of my day.

There is a funny side effect to this - I often “like” a post made several weeks ago on someone’s wall, and they can get a bit confused by that. After I explain that I don’t use newsfeed, the other person is usually flattered - if I like your post it means I was thinking about you and I actually went to your profile to see it.

Sleep on the floor

This one is weird and probably only applies to me. There was this one week where I had trouble sleeping and I went to a party at my friends house. I ended up crashing on his floor and I had awesome sleep. When I got back to my house I started sleeping on the floor. And I loved it. Now I can pretty much sleep anywhere and get a good night’s rest.

Keep a diary

Writing frequently is good. There’s a ton of literature on the fact that spending some time out of your day to reflect is good for your life. Writing is probably the most ubiquitous way to do that. I use to write everyday but it was boring - “today I went to school, studied for 8 hours, came home and went to bed” - was my entry for most days of the week. I began writing every weekend instead (usually on a Sunday) since weekends are when interesting things actually happen. I’ve been doing this for two years now, and it’s pretty great being able to see a chronicle of my life in the last two years. I write the entries in GMail and email them to myself - a filter catches the incoming mail, skips the inbox, and applies a tag. I believe the real value will come 30 years from now.

Use Alfred on Mac OSX

Alfred is one of my favorite softwares. I’ve used it probably 10 times while writing this post. You can visit the website to get it but I’ll tell you why I think it’s awesome (it’s also worth purchasing for the powerpack).

First of all it’s lightning fast. I can blaze through directory searching (especially since Finder is so slow). I often use the dictionary and spelling functionality (I couldn’t recall spelling ubiquitous earlier, so I hit Cmd+Space, “spell ubiqotus”, hit enter, boom - the correct spelling is in my clipboard.)

I’ve recently started using the clipboard manager too. I like being able to have multiple texts in my clipboard and quickly search through which one I actually want to paste.

Finally there is a workflow for about everything. Workflows are essentially custom addons. I can type ‘forecast’ to get the weather, ‘thes’ to get synonyms. I’ve got one for Yelp, IMDB, and Urban Dictionary allowing me to quickly use those platforms without ever leaving the current screen I’m on.

It’s really fucking great and you should get it.