35 PUBLISHED IDEAS
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Part of that embrace of limitation involves facing the anxiety that comes with acknowledging mortality. When we recognize the shortness of life—and accept the fact that some things have to be left unaccomplished, whether we like it or not—we are freer to focus on what matters. Rather than succumbing to the mentality of “better, faster, more,” we can embrace being imperfect, and be happier for it.
So maybe every morning you get up, go to the bathroom, then make your bed. Link a moment in that routine (say, the bed making) to the habit you want to cultivate (maybe it’s reading 10 pages in a book). By tacking it on to something you already do, you’re much more likely to actually stick with it. And consistency really is the key to boosting happiness over time, Zucker said.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep. Keep consistent wake-up and bedtimes. Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark. Use the bed for sleep and sex only. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and exercise before bed. Turn off your screens 30 to 60 minutes before trying to go to sleep.
Don’t chase sleep. Don’t go to bed early. Don’t sleep late. Don’t nap. You’ll diminish your sleep drive, making it even harder to go to sleep the next night.
Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy. Learn the difference between tiredness and sleepiness. (Sleepiness is when your eyes are drooping.) And limit your time in bed to the amount of time you are asleep, plus half an hour.
Don’t stay in bed unless you’re asleep. Tossing and turning in bed reinforces your brain’s association between wakefulness (and negative emotions) and the bed.
In practice, returning to a hard task in this way comes with a ‘restart’ cost: we must spend time and mental effort getting back into our task set, rather than making progress. For this reason, it is important to create time and space for hard tasks.
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