A common bit of eating advice is to make convenient the foods that you actually would like to be eating more of. Produce on the counter or in obvious places in the fridge. Junk food harder to get to, not noticeable as soon as you open the fridge or pantry door (if it’s in the house at all).
It’s true with more than food.
We have three ukuleles here at the house. They were tucked in their cases in a corner in the living room. At The Tall Daddy’s house, there was an electric piano in the office.
Occasionally, we’d pull out the ukes. Every now and then, he’d play the piano.
We just did some rearranging in the living room, and the ukuleles are hanging on the wall now. And we decided to bring over the electric piano.
So now, the instruments are all right in the main thoroughfare in the house. And you know what?
They’re getting played. Not necessarily daily, but substantially more than every now and then.
What do you want more of in your house? Can you make it more easily accessible? (And the flip side: can you make less accessible things you want less of?)
There is no shortage of parenting advice out there. Its quality varies, and its application varies.
I’ve also figured out that many of the pieces that are excellent are applicable to all humans, not just little ones.
Avoid saying “be careful.”
Give specifics. What do you actually want them to watch out for?
For example: be careful crossing the street.
Instead: Cross the street at the corner. Remember to look both ways before you cross, wait for cars to go before you go, and walk.
Yeah, that’s a lot of directions. If they don’t have those in place already, maybe they’re not ready to take that one on alone.
Much of the time, when we tell someone to be careful, it’s not because we think they need the reminder but because we’re trying to do something with our own anxiety about their safety.
So instead of telling them to be careful, tell yourself to be calm, give useful directions if needed, and on we go.
I am just a few days shy of a year of daily blog posts here.
At the beginning, it was pretty easy, as the beginning often is. Because—exciting!
And then it was less easy. Because—work!
The last few weeks, there have been many days that, were it not for the streak, I wouldn’t have written and posted.
Apply that to you.
If you’re looking to make a habit, find a way to keep track (in a tangible way) of doing it daily. Mark a paper calendar, use an app, whatever.
Eating veggies. Drinking enough water. Getting enough sleep. Taking 15 minutes for yourself in a quiet space. Exercising. Talking to friends. Spending half an hour uninterrupted/distracted with your child. Or your spouse. Reading. Journaling. Making the quilt you’ve never made time for.
Whatever The Thing is that you need to make part of your life. Do it. Just a little bit. Every day. Keep track. Make a streak. Keep the streak alive. You can do it!
When a sentence has two parts—the first part positive and the second part negative—the conjunction makes a big difference in how the complete sentence is received.
“You played that song really well, but this note should be two beats.”
“You played that song really well, and this note should be two beats.”
“You played that song really well. Next time, play this note two beats.”
Those sentences feel different as the receiver.
“But” in the middle negates the first half of the sentence.
“And” in the middle leaves both parts of the sentence intact.
This trick (that is easy to do
but and hard to remember) improves message reception in nearly any context: work, spouse, kids, friends, teammates.
Of course—there is a boundary on your responsibility for your message being received as intended. And there’s context. Simply using and instead of but doesn’t change those variables.
Someone who is programmed to reject praise and focus on negative isn’t going to hear the goodness up front, regardless what follows. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.)
Someone whose work is never good enough or who has been pounded with criticism perhaps should be offered only the compliment, with the second half saved for just before the next attempt. (“Remember when you do this to include xyz detail.”)
And, because I have a child who is That Age, I can’t write a post with that many “but”s in it without thinking “chicken butt!”