Have you ever had a tiny squeak in a door in your home that irritated you every time you used it? What happens after you oil the hinge and the squeak goes away? To some, it can feel like a life-changing moment!
That and other quality-of-life improvements can actually create happiness and make the day-to-day that much better.
Improving our mental health and overall sense of well-being can often come from making small, quality-of-life enhancements. These changes can be either cost-free or require a small investment, but they’re worth considering given the impact our daily environments have on us.
Think about the times you’ve walked into a room in your home, and something has annoyed you or, even worse, made you feel bad. It’s precisely in these moments that a quality-of-life improvement can be most beneficial.
As of this writing, it’s the end of another year. I’ve been contemplating what I wanted to share with you to help you start the new year on the right foot. Much of what I talk about in this article will be familiar, but sometimes, we all need a gentle reminder of the small things we can do to enhance our daily lives.
For instance, I recently made a simple, inexpensive purchase—a motion-detecting light for my closet. The existing light wasn’t cutting it for me. It illuminated the space, but I wanted something that would light up the shelves as I walked in, allowing me to see my clothes clearly. These new lights were affordable, rechargeable, and easy to install.
Now when I enter my closet, the shelves light up, and I can easily choose what to wear. For less than $20, I got a pair of these light bars, and they’ve significantly improved my daily routine.
Online shopping makes it easy to find deals on items like these, and the difference they can make is remarkable. You might relate to this, especially if you’ve moved into a new home and become accustomed to its quirks and imperfections. We often overlook the little annoyances or things that don’t work as well as they could.
For example, when we bought our house, I remember looking under the sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms and seeing the mess of pipes and leaks that were left by the previous owners. It was something I lived with for a couple of years, but it always bothered me every time I saw it. Acknowledging that the plumbing needed to be addressed was the first step toward making a change.
These are the kinds of small steps we can take to improve our quality of life. It’s about not settling for the discomforts and inconveniences we encounter but instead taking action to create a more pleasant and satisfying living environment.
Seeing the mess under the sinks was like a constant nagging reminder of something undone, a task I kept avoiding with the excuse of not having enough time. But eventually, I reached a point where I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to learn how to work with PVC, and after watching some instructional videos, I tackled the problem.
Now when I open my kitchen and bathroom cabinets, I’m greeted with the satisfaction of a job well done. Sure, there might be another leak to address in the future, but now I’m equipped with the knowledge that I have the power to change aspects of my life.
It’s empowering to realize that by investing time, energy, and sometimes money into something that needs attention, I can eliminate those negative feelings associated with unresolved issues. The transformation isn’t just physical; it’s emotional, too.
Like the kitchen sink, I took on the challenge and gained valuable skills along the way. While I’m not a professional, I’ve learned that many of us can acquire the necessary skills through resources like YouTube. Some may prefer to hire help for these tasks, but for me, there’s a sense of achievement in doing it myself.
Check! Getting the plumbing done was another improvement quality-of-life improvement that was incredibly satisfying.
Another issue we encountered in our new home was the pitch-black food pantry. Without any installed lighting, we were left fumbling with phone flashlights to see inside. Resolving this became one of my early projects. For less than $20, I installed a ceiling light and wired it to the switch near the laundry room. Now, with a single switch, both areas are illuminated. It required some additional effort, such as crawling through the attic, but the result was worth it. No more stumbling in the dark, and, yet again, my quality of life improved!
I’ve compiled a list of all the little improvements I’ve made around the house for myself and Asha (my fiancee). Each change has positively affected our lives, day by day.
My suggestion is to be mindful of your experiences in each room of your house and even at work. If you commute, pay attention to your drive as well. While you may not be able to change the people who annoy you, you can certainly make changes to your environment that enhance your quality of life.
I remember upgrading my car stereo when I used to have to commute to work. That changed my drive from boring and frustrating to relaxing and something I looked forward to.
Small but significant adjustments can make your daily existence more positive and make you ultimately happier.
Reflecting on how to make life simpler and more efficient is something I do regularly. For example, when we first moved into our house, the basement, which is also our garage, was almost as dark as our kitchen pantry. There was only a single heat lamp. It was so inconvenient to have to turn on this heat lamp every time I needed light. Not only did I not need the heat every time, but it only lit up that one portion of the garage.
To solve this, I scoured Facebook Marketplace and found several fluorescent lights. Bringing them home and setting them up was a game-changer. I even installed a motion sensor switch, so now the lights come on automatically as I walk down the stairs and turn off when there’s no movement. It was such a small change, but it has significantly improved our lives.
Little adjustments can have a big impact. Take my home office; sometimes, I forget that music has the ability to enhance my mood. It wasn’t until Asha reminded me that I could simply ask my smart device to play music that I realized how a simple command could uplift my spirits, whether I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or even relaxed.
This reminds me of the time during and after my divorce when I moved in with my mom. It was a lonely and sad period, but I didn’t want to wallow in my misery, so I decided to watch comedy shows on my tablet computer. That didn’t completely alleviate the loneliness, but it felt like having company, and it helped me through those tough months.
Another life improvement came when I addressed my hearing loss. I played very loud music in my youth (remember that car stereo upgrade?), and it wasn’t until my fifties that I realized the toll it had taken on my hearing.
Asha often pointed out that I couldn’t hear her, which I often attributed to background noise or the distance of her being in another room. However, a hearing test revealed significant loss across several frequencies in my hearing.
The audiologist fitted me with a test set of hearing aids, and the difference was astounding. With the hearing aids, I could understand conversations without lip-reading. During COVID, that was a huge challenge because everyone was wearing masks!
Getting hearing aids has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Now, I can follow conversations and watch TV without constantly asking what was said. My relationship with Asha has improved as well.
We have a family member who resists wearing his hearing aids, but I believe if he did, it would benefit his marriage significantly. I never connected the dots before I got mine. Those dots? My relationship improved.
What might you be putting off that could actually enhance your life?
Maybe it’s a handy gadget or a change in your routine. Maybe you need to address a health issue. The impact on your daily life and relationships can be significant, so it’s worth taking a moment to consider what small change or changes you can make to improve your life.
It’s worth addressing issues you might be avoiding or procrastinating on. Our family member would definitely benefit from something as simple as a better-fitting hearing aid. It could enhance many aspects of his life! But it’s up to him to look into it (we hope he does).
Since we’re on the subject, I’ve experienced more benefits than I thought I would when I got my Bluetooth-capable hearing aids. The convenience of hearing my phone ring or listening to videos without anyone knowing is incredible. Phone calls are now crystal clear directly in my ear. It’s no longer a hassle to talk on the phone.
Even something as mundane as oiling a squeaky door can shift your mood. That persistent squeak each time you open the door can be irritating. By addressing these little annoyances around the house, our lives have been noticeably improved. When something in a room bothers me, I focus on fixing or changing it. If it doesn’t change, I know it will be on my mind, causing irritation and frustration.
Consider what color does to a room. My sister recently painted her bedroom a cool light blue. And now, when she walks into that room, her mood is completely transformed. She used to feel down walking into such a dark space, but now she feels uplifted when she enters that room.
You might be thinking about concepts like feng shui and how the organization and color of a room can make a difference. It took me a while to appreciate this because I used to just live with problems, thinking too bad I don’t like it; that’s just how things are. But I decided not to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Take the Christmas tree, for instance. If you have a tree, there’s usually a button or plug you have to reach for to turn it on and off. Every year, we had to reach behind our tree with our foot to press a hidden button that controlled the lights. It was a pain.
But with a smart plug, we’ve simplified the process! Now, we tell our smart device to turn on and off the Christmas tree lights. We’ve even set up a routine that turns off all the smart-connected lights when we say goodnight.
These improvements don’t have to be expensive. For about twenty dollars (a common amount we’ve spent to fix or change lots of things in our home), we got smart switches for lamps, the Christmas tree, and a few other items. These small investments have made life so much easier
Continuing with more quality-of-life improvements, I want to share some examples that might inspire you to make changes that could enhance your life.
One thing I’ve done is to get rid of old pictures that bring up negative feelings. I had a box of photos that I hadn’t yet digitized, so I went through about 600 of them, discarding any that made me feel bad.
It was challenging because they were all one of a kind, no duplicates, but every time I saw these particular photos, they made me feel bad. I sometimes felt sad or even irritated. I’d see the photo, recall the unpleasant times associated with the people or places in that photo, and then wonder why I was holding onto something that made me feel bad every time I looked at it.
It seemed the only reason I was keeping these photos was that they were the only ones in existence. But then I thought about what would happen if I didn’t have these photos.
What I realized was that I wouldn’t miss them. And because they didn’t exist any longer, I wouldn’t stumble upon them and feel bad anymore. So, I threw them out, one after another.
Today, I have a box of pictures that I enjoy looking at, ones that evoke positive feelings. It was a simple change, but it made a significant difference because I was willing to let go of things that were bothering me. This act of letting go marked the beginning of my journey toward minimalism.
Another pivotal moment in my life was when my car broke down in Arizona. That was the first day I realized I didn’t need to be so attached to things. That day, I gave up my car and all my possessions inside it. It was my only car, and I was broke at the time, just having moved.
With a bunch of stuff in my car and no money, I sold everything for about $200, allowing me to buy a bus ticket home. This experience opened my eyes to how much attachments were controlling me. I was so afraid of losing things or letting them go. That day signified the first and last panic attack I’ve ever had.
That day was also when I started learning to let go of attachments so they didn’t have such a hold on me. Now I can have things in my life and let them go when I choose.
I don’t have a problem with attachments. We can hold onto them or not. It’s a choice. But consider what happens when it’s time to release them. Would you be okay with letting go of something you are attached to?
If the answer is no, that attachment has a grip on you. I’m not saying it’s inherently good or bad, but it can be limiting in some ways because you aren’t willing to part with it.
Letting go of attachments is deeply personal. I’ve learned to be okay with the possibility of losing something I love. It’s not that I want to lose it or that I simply let things go without consideration, but allowing the thought of letting something go into my decision-making process has been key. Asking myself, “Will I be okay if I let this go?” has become a part of my mindset.
Take the example of the pictures I mentioned. Asking myself if I’d be okay without them led me to realize that many of the items we accumulate over the years can be let go. We might not want to part with them, but if we never saw them again, would it really matter?
It’s not necessary to apply this to everything, but there can certainly be possessions that don’t serve us or make us feel good. If they do make us feel good, that’s wonderful, but the real test is whether we can still be okay if we choose to release them.
What are you so attached to that letting it go would cause you anxiety?
I challenge myself with the question: If I absolutely had to let it go, would I be okay? Or even more daunting, what if I had no choice but to let it go?
Sometimes, I might think I wouldn’t be okay and that I need certain things in my life. But if I were to accept that I’ll never have that thing again, and it’s permanently gone, would I eventually be okay?
This is where the real challenge lies—considering the permanence of letting go. Because once you do that, any lingering hope dissipates, and you’re forced to accept a new reality.
This isn’t always a pleasant form of closure, but it propels you to a new level of thought. It moves you away from obsessive thinking, where you’re stuck wishing and hoping for change. Instead, you accept that change won’t come and that acceptance shifts your mindset. It’s tough, but it brings closure and leads you to the next step, whether that involves healing, working through emotions, or a grieving process.
For instance, accepting the end of a relationship can be incredibly hard. Without acceptance, you’ll remain fixated, unable to move on. But by acknowledging that it’s over and will stay “over, you free yourself from that obsessive rut. You tell yourself, “This is how it is. It’s not going to change.”
If it does end up changing for the better, that’s a bonus! But you’re prepared to work with the reality that it won’t. This mindset is crucial for progressing in life.
In conclusion, I encourage you to stay mindful. When something irritates you, makes you miserable, or even just a little bit uncomfortable, consider what small changes you can make to improve your situation. It could be as simple as adding light to a dark space or reducing the brightness in an area that is way too bright. These small adjustments can change the entire energy of a space and how you feel entering it.
Asha’s insistence on a certain color of light in her closet is intriguing. She feels that without it, the experience of choosing her clothes becomes irksome. It’s the right shade that makes all the difference for her, altering her mood and enhancing the process of selecting what to wear.
Although I’m not entirely sure which color she’s after, we’ve made sure there’s lighting in place. It might not be perfect yet, but knowing her, she’ll find the perfect solution.
When I installed these small, rechargeable lights under the shelves in my own closet, it was a game-changer. Asha said they were too modern or futuristic for her. But for me, it’s all about visibility. Being able to clearly see my clothes affects my day in a positive way. I can see what I’m going to wear! Asha, of course, is supportive. She’s happy that it works for me, and, of course, so am I.
The lights in my closet have been transformative, enhancing my day-to-day life in a way I hadn’t anticipated. They’ve had such a positive effect that I’m considering adding more (already got some on order!). There are still some dark corners that could use a bit of brightening, and I’m looking forward to seeing the difference more light will make in those spaces.
Light up the dark areas of your life. It might just make the difference you need to create just the day-to-day experience you want.