The truth is: we can’t all go to space or, climb Everest or, write a one-hit-wonder that catapults us to fame overnight.
But you know what we can do? We can throw away the empty toilet roll. And sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to improve someone’s day.
On a day to day basis, it’s often the little things that count most.
So here are 15 bits of unsolicited advice about kicking everyday mediocrity to the curb, from an 18-year-old who a) has a lot to learn about life, b) (probably) gets too little sleep and, c) is happy spending all day in her pyjamas.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh
1. Text your grandparents more often
2. Be realistic with your alarm clock
We all know it: there’s no point having 14 alarms if you know you’ll only respond to the last one. (Setting one alarm and actually getting up when it sounds will leave you feeling more accomplished and energised than ignoring the three or four alarms you usually have set.)
We have a tendency of hearing what others say just so that we can reply. Instead, try listen to what’s around you without interruption. (Today, take some time to hear the lyrics of the music you’re listening to, the breeze, the old lady who strikes up conversation with you in the middle of the grocery store, the clicking of your shoes against the floor and the people you interact with.)
4. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’
(because spreading yourself too thin is more detrimental than turning someone down.)
5. Make your bed every.single.day
My mom’s always been a firm believer that making your bed when you wake up means that you’ve at least accomplished something for the day.
I never did this when I was younger, on account that I slept until the last minute and then spent the next 15 rushing through the house: one shoe on and a toothbrush in my mouth so I wouldn’t be late for school.
But I’ve developed an appreciation for climbing into a made bed in the evenings and have since tried hard to adopt this. It definitely improves my mood in the beginning and end of the day.
6. Pick up that piece of litter
7. Smile when you answer the phone
There’s been a ton of research done about this, but the crux is: people can hear when you’re smiling. Smiling, even if someone can’t see you, makes you sound friendlier and more engaged in the conversation – which is important in a work environment.
8. Ask for help
9. Write in a journal/sit in silence/talk to yourself, cat, dog or hamster
Basically: do some introspective thinking.
10. Evaluate your inner circle
It’s important to surround yourself with people who a) aren’t emotionally draining, b) make you happy and c) support you, which (we all know) is a lot easier said than done, but sometimes just being aware of the kinds of people you spend your time around is the first step in making a difference.
11. Tell your siblings you love them (and be genuine about it)
12. Don’t become one of those people who rush out of the rain
Often, I find myself so absorbed in moving on to the next thing that I forget to appreciate the current moment. (Don’t do that.)
13. Acknowledge the role of your roots
Make a list of some beneficial lessons/values your parents have taught you and then thank them for those things. (They can be really little things. Like, I’m grateful my father taught me to make butternut soup and gave me an understanding of saving money from a young age, and the fact that my mom instilled the idea that making myself proud is the most important element of defining my own success.)
14. Take a walk
(with no purpose other than to enjoy the fresh air and time alone to think.)
15. Compliment someone
If you’re feeling courageous, try complimenting a total stranger. (You like her shirt? His scarf? Their hair? Tell them. It will probably make them feel great.)
16. When you can, give more of yourself
(by going the extra mile at work/doing more than what is expected of you/giving readers 16 tips instead of the promised 15, helping out before someone asks, etc.)