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PIQUE'N YER INTEREST: Creating happier habits a moment at a time

Dan's cat
Patrick Stewart the cat appears in a 1 Second Everyday (1SE) video.

As we close in on a year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Sea to Sky, it’s perhaps time to take stock of some of the smaller, potentially less noticeable changes we’ve seen as a result of the global health crisis.

There are, of course, the macro changes of adhering to health protocols, adapting to emerging mental health challenges, spending more time at home than ever before and taking in stride significant shifts in workplace dynamics, whether you’re bravely facing the public and all that brings or have demolished any semblance of proper posture by tapping away on a laptop sprawled, un-ergonomically, across a sofa.

Some of the pandemic’s knock-on effects include, for many, bringing into focus what they truly want out of life and mapping out a plan to achieve it. Once you’ve been corralled into a new situation in familiar surroundings, you can’t help but take stock of it all. It’s in the form of a continually hot housing market, as some choose to upgrade to improve their home lives (while others have, sadly, been forced to downsize after being put through the financial wringer); it’s to do with decisions analyzing the satisfaction of everything from careers to relationships.

But collectively we were also, for better or worse, jarred from our habits. On a personal level, my wife and I have weathered the pandemic with our lives mostly intact. We woke up later without having to commute, ate hot lunch (and even cooked a proper breakfast) most days, and enjoyed one another’s company even at times when our main focuses were the task at hand. On the flipside, there were occasions, especially in the early days, where we made the decision to forego our daily walks in the name of safety. 

Some of the positives were clearly path of least resistance (hitting snooze a couple times instead of taking pains to get up and rush out the door), while others (actually planning for lunch in advance as opposed to mindlessly packing a turkey sandwich and an apple for weeks on end) took a bit more initiative. 

It’s been a time to ponder even small, low-stakes changes. At the start of the first lockdown, my wife was inspired to download the 1 Second Everyday (1SE) application, where you take a small snippet of video every day and it helps you document the year that was.

Even though I document the goings-on of the Sea to Sky by writing stories and taking photos, I’d failed to do much of that in my own life, often espousing a “do you need to record everything you’re doing?” attitude in a very old-man-yells-at-cloud manner. 

Seeing my wife’s 2020 retrospective and—odd as it may be to say in an undoubtedly challenging year—being reminded of the happy memories we’d made together prodded me to start a project on New Year’s Day. I technically haven’t missed a day yet (though, in displaying how it was a tougher habit to break into, the only Jan. 4 file I had when looking to catch up was a downloaded photo of Dolly Parton). After an adjustment period, though, I’ve been better about finding a little something to document each day about life in 2021. It’s been mostly goofy clips of our three pets, but there’s also a snippet of a municipal council meeting and a quick flyover of a taco feast. 

It’s mostly innocuous stuff, but looking back at it brings me a smile and there are already a few treasured memories. 

And, perhaps slightly more importantly, it’s a small nudge on the path to being the person I’d like to be.

At a time when life has been changing, often for the worse, at a break-neck pace, clawing back any sort of small victory is more than welcome. This teensy project may have sprouted in the dawn of January, arguably as a resolution to do something different at the outset of a new year, but the timing’s beside the point. If you find yourself saying, “Taking a few seconds each day to do X or Y will bring me a little more joy,” it’s time to take the initiative to do it.