The 21 Day Challenge
- Pick one of the five researched habits listed below and try it out for 21 days.
- Keep it simple.
- Be FLEXIBLE and allow it to fit your family. In a perfect world, it’s 21 days in a row to create a positive habit. So what. When our family started, we came out strong on the first day, but then promptly got busy and forgot the second day….and the third. Sooo—we get 30 days; just in case. Don’t quit because you miss a day.
- Something is better than nothing. So really, you get as many days as you need. Just keep trying.
You can do this independently, choose one area of focus as a family and have scheduled check-ins, or invite each person to participate as they feel inclined. Remember, something is better than nothing.
Our family decided that each person would pick their own with check-ins at the end of each week. We asked our kids to pick an area different from their current activities. For example, kids in sports should try something other than exercise. In the end, not everyone chose to participate and that’s ok.
5 Areas of Focus
1. Write down three new things you are grateful for each day. Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism even 6 months later, and it raises your success rates significantly.
2. Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours. If it’s been a rough day, then find something small. Look beyond your to-do list to a moment of connection or kindness. Years ago during a really tough time, my entry was about a 4 year old who screamed and yelled but finally didn’t hit his sibling. It wasn’t perfect, but it helped me see progress.
3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day. Just move. Walk, wiggle, stretch. Do something to intentionally move your body. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters.
4. Meditate for 2 minutes, focus on your breath going in and out. Stop multitasking for just a minute and clear your head. Headspace is an app with free options and a great place to start. The benefits of mediation are well researched and plentiful.
5. Write one, quick note or text first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your family or inner circle. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in Mr. Achor’s study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students. (Children could write one kind note or draw a picture each day.)
Sometimes in family life we find what we look for. So take a chance and look for the good, move your body, and nourish your mind.
I’d love to hear your experiences. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!