By: Joe Oliveto
Modern life has ensured we no longer need to worry about wild animals, starvation, and that lunatic tribe two caves down, but it's also unloaded a metric butt-ton of new stresses on us. Stresses much more complicated than just "don't die." Our basic needs are all set, but now we're expected to be fitter, happier, and strive to be more productive than ever.
A better life isn't a destination, it's a daily process, and it's easier than you think. The problem with most self-improvement advice is that it's either too vague to understand or too impractical to apply. This list is different. Every single item on here will dramatically change your life, is backed by real evidence, and is incredibly easy to accomplish. Also, you can start every single one today.
Credit: Flickr/Ryan Johnson
1. Set aside five minutes for meditation.
Mindfulness meditation isn't just for monks and undergrads. It's essentially a workout for the brain, building up gray matter in the areas that help you concentrate, handle stress, and not be a jerk. Best of all, to reap the benefits, you don't need to devote an hour to it. Starting with five minutes every day is good enough. That said, if you're willing to sit still for a full 20 minutes, studies show you'll start to get smarter in as little as four days. Mindfulness is simple, but if you're intimidated, try an app or a guided meditation video to start.
2. Shut down your devices an hour before bed.
Scientists believe that the harsh light of tablets, smartphones, PCs, and TVs prevents the brain from secreting melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Reading under low light for that last hour before bed is a much smarter idea if you want to get the most out of your rest.
Or, you know... you could meditate.
Credit: Flickr/Sascha Kohlmann
3. Listen to podcasts during your commute.
Getting ahead in the world involves optimizing your abilities and intelligence. And unfortunately you don't learn everything you need to know in kindergarten. Thankfully, stocking up on all the knowledge that wasn't covered in school is a lot easier with podcasts. Want to stay current on the latest advances in science? SciFri. World affairs? Anderson Cooper 360. General knowledge? Stuff You Should Know. Whether you drive to work, take public transit, or walk, use this time to tune in to some mind-expanding media.
4. Floss during TV commercials.
The benefits of flossing are clear: you'll guard against gum disease, keep your breath fresh, and never have to listen to another uncomfortably judgmental lecture from your dentist again. If you can't be bothered to add this extra step to your morning and evening regimens, flossing is something you can do to kill time during TV commercials.
5. Always take the stairs.
You'll burn 90 calories if you take six flights three times a day.
If your office or apartment is a few floors up, committing to taking the stairs will add some exercise to your daily routine without taking up any major real estate in your crammed schedule. Little habits like this will lay the foundation for major change, and rescue you from awkward elevator banter.
More from Supercompressor:
Like Supercompressor on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Supercompressor