We asked our regular contributors through e-mail What is something you did that increased your quality of life so much that you wished you would have done it much sooner because it changed your life forever? We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way.
1. Learning to always keep my keys in the same place.
2. If someone asks me to do something and it will take me 5 minutes or less to do it, I’ll do it immediately. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I never realized how much stuff I put off until later and then promptly forgot about. Also, once you’ve done one 5 minute task, it’s easier to just go and do the next. I became much more productive and saved myself a lot of time and effort at the same time.
3. As a kid, I read books all the time. Then I quit for some reason. Got married, had kids, started a business. Never any time for reading. Last year, at 45, I started reading books again. What a fool I was to ever stop.
4. Honestly shaving my head. As someone who started losing hair at age 20, had the old monk bald spot by 23, and horseshoe by 25, it took me until 29 to say I’m shaving. I have a lot more confidence and have gotten compliments because of it.
5. I had a decayed wisdom tooth with an exposed nerve, and I lived with it for ten years, when I didn’t have dental or disposable income.
My life changed the day I had it pulled. If there’s something wrong with your teeth, find a way to get it taken care of. I spent a decade in pain whenever I drank something cold or chewed on the left side of my mouth, and I could have had it corrected much sooner if I’d had my act together.
6. Applying for a job I didn’t think I was qualified for. It doubled my salary and let me move to a place I’d only ever dreamed of living in.
7. Working out and eating right.
8. 6 years ago I decided to never be late to anything ever again. My whole life up until that point I was always late to everything, school, birthdays etc. Anyway, making sure I’m on time saves me a lot of trouble and a lot of stress and anxiety. Also, everyone I know (who has noticed it) really appreciate it. Being on time for plans shows that you care about people and that they are important to you.
9. Making decisions based on what I really want, not on what I think others want or expect of me.
It was always so easy to put others’ needs first because it meant that I never had to take the trouble to figure out what I really wanted, or to negotiate with others to get it. Just go along with everyone else, that’s easy and makes you likable. But it doesn’t make you happy, because it means your needs are often not being met.
The real turning point for me was the realization that wanting something does not instantly equate to a decision to go out and get it. Verbalising a desire is not tantamount to forcing your will on others. For example, if someone asks you what you wanna eat, instead of saying “oh whatever you want, I don’t mind”, there’s nothing wrong with stating your preference, saying that you’re open to other ideas and entering into a negotiation to find some common ground. People actually appreciate you being clear about what you want, it makes things easier for everyone.
For bigger stuff: once you realize you want something, sit with it for a bit. Then ask yourself: how moral do I think my desire is? Can I proceed without damaging my integrity? What are the practical/other ramifications for myself and others? Can you live with whatever decision you make? If you are missing vital information from others, ask them for it to help you decide.
Most importantly, don’t waste time wondering about whether you’re allowed to want something. You do already, so that’s that. Just acknowledge the desire, then set about deciding whether you‘re going to go out and get it. That way, even if you decide not to, you’ll know what the desire is and why you’re not fulfilling it, rather than shutting it down automatically at the source.
I’m so much happier now!!
10. Not being afraid to admit when I’m wrong. For years, I was obsessed with being correct about everything. This semester, one of my professors said that it’s okay if we are not experts in the material yet. From then on, I’ve actually been better at admitting when I do not know an answer or saying the wrong answer in class without cringing/hating myself.