Set Yourself Up for a Long and Healthy Marriage; Take Care of the Little Things

Everywhere we go, details matter. It’s the details that set the luxurious apart from the everyday and the experts from the wannabes. Details create culture and betray intentions. Details are the tiny but important things that give us a sense of a broader story. It’s the same way with your health. Your big habits help control your health, but it’s the little details that create your big habits. If your small habits are unhealthy, your big changes will still leave you feeling like you’re holding onto your healthy habits by a thread; but if you focus on the little indicators that define a healthy lifestyle, you’ll enjoy a more complete sense of health and will find it easier to maintain the daily habits that really affect your physical and mental health.

The power of small things

We have long understood that little things matter. Big projects like the space program require on getting tiny details right. The influential (and sometimes controversial) “broken windows” theory of crime argued that enforcing petty offenses would create a sense of control and rule of law that would reduce larger crimes, too. Details support larger projects that can’t go right without them, and they set the tone for broader trends.

If you have ever made a major lifestyle change for your health but still felt out of control or unhealthy, you can probably identify the details that were off. A diet that went well for four days, but a small thing – one candy bar, maybe – that derailed it. A daily exercise ritual undermined by incongruous unhealthy habits. Our health has a lot of dimensions, and even large-scale good habits can be undone by less significant bad ones.

High-leverage areas for high-powered change

What details can you change in your life in order to create a broader sense of health and well-being? Here are a few to try.

  • Meditation. Meditation is something that sounds silly to those who haven’t tried it – but essential to those who have. Few things can have as large an impact in as short a time as meditation. A little habit like meditating for a few minutes each morning can give your life a sense of control, calm, and happiness that will have a ripple effect on your lifestyle choices.
  • Food and ingredients. What you eat matters – you know that. But throwing together a home-cooked meal from some iffy ingredients is not the way to really convince yourself that your life is healthier. Get the details right by investing in great ingredients, and you’ll taste and feel the difference. Driving just a bit further to buy fresh seafood will be worth it, because you’ll be more likely to stick to your health cooking habits.
  • Waking up. A rushed morning or a snoozed alarm can change an entire day’s worth of health decisions. Forget about jogging before work – it’s too late for that. You can’t pack a lunch without being late, so you’ll have to eat McDonald’s on your break. And now you’re not tired at night, so maybe you’ll just have a beer or two – which will mean sleeping through your alarm tomorrow. See the problem with getting the details wrong?
  • Your space. Your home – particularly your bedroom and your kitchen – has a lot of power over your habits. Take the time to keep it clean and neat, and make sure that the flow of your space encourages good habits. Are the snacks and booze easier to get to than your treadmill? That’s a detail that could cost you.

The list above includes tiny moments or things that take a relatively short amount of time to fix (hopefully, if your apartment isn’t too much of a mess). They’re things that focus on setting and details, the layouts of rooms and the difference of a five-minute alarm snooze. But each is also a high-leverage detail that can change your entire day’s worth of healthy decisions. So make the right call, and focus on the details that can change your health.

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