One of the biggest lessons we realized in recent seasons is that we need to slow down, step out of our constant bustling, and return to a simple, peaceful inner life. It's so easy to lose sight of what's essential amid these busy, chaotic times. Our attention spans have grown shorter, our mindsets have become dangerously antagonistic, and we can't even finish a meal without looking down on our phones.
This is why we here at Christian Style have listed down some good, old-fashioned habits that sorely need to come back in 2024 and beyond. We aim to re-incorporate these habits into our day-to-day life to help us nurture a more serene spirit -- one that's more in touch with God. We invite you to re-learn these habits with us, too.
1. Deep reading
It's amazing that there are more convenient ways to consume written works now, like audiobooks and podcasts that we can just listen to while doing something else. But there is real value in sitting down to really read a book, in your own solitude, and without multitasking. This is called deep reading, and it has many fantastic benefits like improving brain function and cultivating empathy.
Try this habit: Spend at least 20 minutes a day to read an actual, physical book. Maybe it's before bed or right when you get home from work. Bonus points if you also read the Bible during this time!
2. Having regular family meals -- without phones
Family dinners used to be deeply ingrained in our daily life. During the meal, family members talked to each other face-to-face, sharing about their day and discussing various matters. It was a great and constant opportunity for family members to communicate with each other.
These days, many households don't really make it a point to eat together. And when they do, almost everyone's attention is called away by their cellphones and other devices. As a result, face time with each other is reduced and the quality of sharing is diminished.
Try this habit: Slowly reintroduce the family dinner (or breakfast) in your household. Start by gathering your family on some 'special' meals -- say, to celebrate an accomplished task, or to initiate something like "Catch-up Saturdays".
Gently ask everyone to leave their phones in their rooms during the meal, then be ready to initiate face-to-face conversations with them. Remember, these conversations may need some patient stoking from you, especially if your family has gotten used to distracted one-word replies.
3. Writing letters
Handwritten letters are precious gems these days. It has become so easy and quick to type brief text messages, that any show of writing effort can brighten the day of the receiver. This is especially true during these times of pandemic-related quarantines.
What's more, jotting down our sentiments on actual paper can encourage our sincerity and thoughtfulness. Since this activity requires us to sit down and take our time, we are prompted to consider our thoughts, to craft our text so that it communicates a real message in a nice way.
Try this habit: Write one letter per week. You can make a list of people you want to send letters to, whether they're distant loved ones, friends who are close by, or even your spouse who's not expecting to find a letter on their bedside table!
The length doesn't matter, your penmanship isn't a big deal, and you can talk about big and small things. For inspiration, check out some historical letters, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald's correspondence to his daughter Scottie.
4. Saying "Thank you"
In our everyday hurry, we may overlook certain manners that once made people more gracious to each other. Expressing thanks is a basic example. It's such a simple thing to say "Thank you" to your driver before getting off the vehicle, the server who brought your food, the family member who helped you during troubles, or the friend who listened to your sentiments.
We may think, "They don't need an award for doing their basic job." Or, "They're my friend. They already know I'm grateful." But saying thanks is more a reflection of ourselves -- how much (or how little) we appreciate things, how we treat other people, and what kinds of words come out of our mouths on a regular basis. So we ought to re-cultivate the art of saying "Thank you" not just to let others know they're appreciated, but also to recalibrate our mindset back to graciousness.
Try this habit: Practice saying thanks to people who do things for you, even when it's their job to do them. Even better if you smile at them while saying it!
5. Playing outside
As more and more children rely on gadgets to have fun, they miss out on the experience -- and benefits -- of outdoor recreation. Experts agree that playing outdoors offers advantages for kids, such as improving their sensory and motor skills, boosting their emotional and social development, and developing their personal autonomy, decision-making, and creativity.
We must add that parents should be the ones leading them in the fun! As grownups, it's our actions that our young ones emulate. Plus, playing outdoors with our children revitalizes our own sense of child-like wonder and humor. Win-win for the whole family.
Try this habit: Designate a supervised "outdoor time" with your kids, perhaps by taking a chunk of their "gadget time". You can spark their interest by initiating some kiddie games yourself, together with your spouse. Some classic favorites are hide-and-seek, hopscotch, and jump ropes. Once your children are in on the outdoor habit, you can also organize outdoor play dates with family friends.
6. Going the extra mile
No one's really a fan of people who only do the bare minimum, but many of us are guilty of it anyway! Sometimes, it's because of modern-day fatigue, and that's understandable. But other times, we're just too apathetic or too lazy to strive for something more than passable, whether it's about our tasks at work or about our household responsibilities.
While it would be nice if everybody around us were superb at their jobs, we ourselves should be the ones to re-spark this attitude of excellence. Others may see our extra effort and be inspired by it, but even if that doesn't happen, the great thing is, we are improving our own selves.
Try this habit: Think in terms of "personal flourish". In each task that you do, think of something you can add that would make people go, "Wow, you did this?" For example, in a work presentation, put in a little bit more data about an angle that is often overlooked. When dealing with a professional contact, remember some traditional niceties like thank-you notes. When cleaning up a room in your house, finish with some nice details like a sweet scent or some handpicked flowers.
7. Putting effort into dating
Speaking of the extra mile, it's high time we put some effort back into romance. If you've noticed, modern-day dating is utterly casual -- as easy as chatting on an app, meeting up for an hour, then never talking to each other again!
In old-fashioned dating, people really showed their interest through thoughtful acts and gifts. They dressed nicely, conversed with each other, and took their time getting to know each other better. These are things that told the other person: "You're worth the time and effort."
Try this habit: If you are just starting to see someone 'unofficially', try small yet pleasant gestures like picking them up, opening doors for them, complimenting them, and asking questions about them (instead of hogging the conversation or letting it go flat).
If you are in a relationship with someone, keep up these gestures and sprinkle more surprises, too! It can be through little love notes, flowers for no reason, preparing a special meal for them, taking them to an event they like, or just taking them to a classic movie-and-dinner date. These are especially beautiful to do if you have been married to your husband or spouse for a while. Lots of couples just let romance fade away, but that won't be you!
Which of these old-fashioned habits do you plan to revive? Or maybe you never stopped doing them, in which case good for you! Share with us in the comments about your lovely traditional habits.
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