When I was writing my New Year’s Resolutions series, I went on the lookout for simple and inexpensive ways we might live better in 2010. And it struck me how much we might be able to improve our lives by making just one small change.
For instance what if someone committed to a daily walk? That alone could bring better health, relaxation, improved sleep, connection with neighbors, and more quality time with family. And if the walk replaced a car trip, it could even save some money. Every small change I thought of had a similar snowball effect.
Recently I heard an interview with William Wittman, a life coach in Seattle. He talked about an easy daily exercise that he recommends to his clients and insists he’s seen it bring huge changes to people’s lives. He calls it “Owl Ears and Owl Eyes”. The idea is to go outside first thing in the morning, stand still, and look up, down, and side to side without moving your head while listening closely to the sounds around you, first the loud ones, then the quieter ones.
Wittman says that by connecting with nature like this first thing in the morning, we connect with what’s meaningful in the world. And by focusing on looking and listening, we can’t help but quiet our mental chatter and relax. He says he’s seen this one small change motivate people to get healthy, find fulfilling work, reach out to friends, and on and on.
I think Wittman might be on to something. Awhile ago my neighbor put down black plastic over the garden in his backyard, which attracted ducks – sometimes sixty of them at a time. And now each night the ducks circle over our neighborhood in groups of four or five, flying lower and lower until they’re just overhead. (I wrote about it before here; my neighbor has since built a pond for the ducks.)
I’ve been shocked at how much this random, natural (and free) event has improved my family’s quality of life. Most nights we go outside to watch the ducks, and we chat with our neighbors, connect with nature, and enjoy each other’s company. Just one small change really has added up to so much more.
(Originally posted on March 16, 2010)
What do you think? Has one small change ever made a big difference in your life?