The Happiness Connection  

Consistent small steps can lead to bigger things when you want to get stuff done

'Slow and steady wins race'

When my partner and I moved into our house, we decided to use two of the upstairs bedrooms as our offices. They’re side by side and face the same direction.

They’re arranged and decorated very differently, but that isn’t the only thing that distinguishes them. At night, the light that comes into my window is soft. By contrast, the other room feels like it’s overlooking a major city, not downtown Kelowna.

How can the view from two windows of the same size, facing the same direction and only a few feet apart be so different? That question strikes me every time I walk down the upstairs hall after dark.

After a few months of marvelling at the difference in light coming through the two windows, I realized this situation could be applied to many things in life. For example, a plane going from Vancouver to Tokyo that’s one degree off course will end up 650 km away in Osaka.

This understanding can be especially useful if you feel daunted about making changes in your life. Cleaning one drawer a day may serve you more than expecting to get your entire house decluttered in one weekend.

The key is consistency. A small step once a month isn’t going to get you very far. Instead, find something you can commit to doing every day. This is where the strength of this strategy lies.

If you want to develop a journalling practice, you don’t have to start by cramming every page with words. Try instead with one sentence a day. It’s better to start small with one thought, phrase, or list of words that you create regularly rather than going strong for a week or two and then leaving your notebook to collect dust.

The same technique can be used if you want to adopt a more positive view of life. You don’t have to change your mindset, values or beliefs in one fell swoop in order to be happier. It’s about tweaking.

Start by finding something good in every interaction. Look for a learning opportunity in negative experiences. When a friend disappoints you, consider there might be something going on that you aren’t aware of. Find a reason to be grateful as often as possible.

I’m trying to apply the one-degree shift approach to increasing my level of health. I want to walk more and would love to get 10,000 steps a day, but I’ve decided not to beat myself up if I don’t. I’ve resolved to walk every day. When I have time for a long trek that’s what I do, but 20 minutes is better than nothing.

Small steps are starting points. Decide what you want and then ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do to move myself towards that goal?”

Once you’ve begun your journey and created a consistent practice, you can add a new step or adapt your original one. Don’t stop yourself before you even get started by thinking you have to make a 180-degree change to see results.

Think about the Tortoise and the Hare—slow and steady can win the race. It can also help you reach your goals.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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