It really does only take one little thing to completely turn your life around.
And sometimes, you really learn that. It could be petting a single dog, or seeing a flower, or reading a book.
But whatever it is, it gets under your skin and makes your entire life far better than it was.
Here were some of the answers.
Narrowly Made ItGiphy
Going to the doctor early. Lump felt like barely anything, but I worked up the courage to ask the doctor if he could check it out. That led to a second opinion, surgery, and no more cancer within 3 days. Waiting longer could have led to months of chemo or worse.
Get to know you body (what normal feels like) and check yourself boys and girls.
Edit: thank you for my first internet coins, kind redditors. This happened when I was 24, in the US. A year before getting dropped off my parent's family insurance plan, which saved me about 12k. I realize that was an extremely fortunate situation compared to basically the rest of the US. Since some asked, it was about half the size of a pea, and difficult to feel through the ballsack skin. Got a physical exam, then an ultrasound. Surgery went in through my abdomen and removed the entire left testicle just to be safe. I've had follow-up imaging done of my abdomen to be sure it hasn't come back since. After surgery recovery, sex is no different than before and you only need one to be fertile. I stopped noticing anything different after a year. Getting checked was scary/embarrassing but the best decision I could have made. Peace of mind or treatment > embarrassment or death
Oddly enough, something I saw on r/LifeProTips turned out to be enormously useful to me: dividing my hours of the day into 20-minute and 40-minute blocks. Set a timer for 20 minutes, spend that entire 20 minutes dedicated to cleaning, doing a chore, or otherwise being productive, and then set a timer for 40 minutes that I spend however I please. Rinse and repeat at will.
This has been helpful because I suffer from major depressive disorder, and was also raised by someone who has hoarding tendencies and doesn't clean beyond subsistence levels (i.e. will do a load of dishes, but never cleans the sink or wipes the counters. That kind of thing, x100). All that combined makes me really struggle with keeping house and doing necessary things that should be cleared out regularly, little things like shredding all those "you are pre-approved for a credit card" junk letters, washing *all* the dishes during the day before making more dirty dishes at dinner, you get the picture.
I wasn't raised to do it, and my nature is to do literally anything else. The 20-minute task blocks keep me from getting overwhelmed by otherwise overwhelming tasks, and the 40-minute "me" time blocks make me value that time all the more than when I am just loafing around indefinitely. Yesterday, two 20-minute task blocks translated to completely clearing the dirty dishes, deep-cleaning my rice cooker, organizing and sanitizing the counter beside the stove, cleaning and organizing the bathroom sink cabinet, and ditto for the toiletries/medication shelf. It was a great eye-opener to see how much I can get done in a really short amount of time, and very encouraging.
Make A Choice For You
I love playing basketball. I joined a gym with a basketball court so I could play whenever I wanted. I go in every morning and play. Go back sometimes in the evening and play with whomever is there. High school kids, old dudes, dudes that can't play. I don't care - I love basketball. I'm 44 and it's one of the first times in my life I've done something for me because I love it.
Maybe basketball isn't your thing. That's not my point. Find something you love and do it. Do it because you want to. Do it for fun. Keep it fun. Find others who do it too. It doesn't matter who they are, just enjoy what you're doing with others.
I have depression, and being honest about how I feel when people ask how I'm doing has genuinely helped me feel less crummy. I don't tell people I'm fine anymore because I'm usually not. I don't go into any details, because that's more than most people actully want to hear, but I'll say things like, "Man, I'm worn out! Can't wait for the day to be over!" or "I'm wishing it was break time!" or "It was really hard to leave my dog this morning." I do my best to act cheerful, especially at work, but I got sick of telling people I was "fine" or "doing well" when I wasn't. You get more of a connection with people when you're honest and when you give them a way to empathize and extend the conversation.
Defining The Relationship
Telling my wife, after a rough time between the two of us, that I really wanted to have a wild, exciting affair and I'd prefer it be with her. That was about 25 years ago. Turns out we have a lot more fun treating each other like lovers than we did as spouses.
Also? Getting a Fitbit. That's really motivated me to walk more. So there's that, too.
Adding: Thanks for the Reddit gold, kind strangers. I shall use it wisely and only a little frivolously. Or the other way around, One of those.
I started to pay attention to peoples' name tags.
It started to matter to me that I thanked "Tom" for his great service. That I thanked "Cassandra" for her help checking out my groceries. That "Toni" was there to answer my questions or that "Gladys" showed up at 5a on a cold morning so I could have a coffee on my way to work.
Paying attention to name tags led to me paying better attention to peoples' names when they told them to me. Like they were trusting me and inviting me into their lives in some small way. That they cared that I knew who they were, and I recognized that there was responsibility in that. So, over time, this made me a better listener in general, which takes practice.
Pretty soon, it started to matter to me that I was a listener, and not a wait-to-talker. It started to matter to me that if I had something to say, that I better have good reasons to say it. And so it then mattered to me that I had good reasons and good information which informed my beliefs, which led to it REALLY mattering to me that I was literate and adept in the tools of skepticism and to always remember, perhaps assume, that I could be wrong. To question what I took for granted was true, be willing to change my mind and assess my opinions/stances with a confidence derived from why and how I believed what I believed. It became very important to know how to best determine true things from false things, to believe that which is true and discard that which is false. Forget for a moment that this has revolutionized my personal ethical and existential philosophies, on paper it has led me to pursue and achieve a master's degree in science education and empowered me - a self-described prolific procrastinator - to complete a formal master's thesis and publish articles.
So.... Thanks name tags!
A Whole Pallette Change
Comitting to eating fruits and or vegetables with every meal and drastically reducing my consumption of red meat. It was my New Years resolution, and has changed my life for the better. I have struggled with IBS since I was a teenager, and now it's almost nonexistent. Unless you're a vegetarian, you most likely don't have enough fiber in your diet. I tried to limit my response since OP's question is about "one little thing", but I also eliminated soda from my diet for the first time since I was very young, that was a BIG thing. Soda is seriously liquid crack.
I used to always say "No problem" when people asked me to do things. Overheard a conversation about how using negative words (both "no" and "problem") despite meaning that I would do whatever they needed help with, would cause negative thoughts in other people subliminally and they would tie that to you. (Even if they don't realize it, they have negative emotions and thoughts when they think or see me.) so I changed to saying "Sure thing" when people would ask me to help them with stuff. Night and day difference people.
EDIT Rip my inbox. For those of you who are wondering how it changed my life, this the best way I can describe it.
It's helped me to have a more positive outlook on my own life and actions. It portrays the idea that If they ask me to help them with something I'll do what I can to help. It helps me hold myself accountable and stick to my word. People around me know that if I say I'll do something I'll give it my very best at getting it done with the desired parameters that they've requested. They know they can count on me and my word
-Sigh- Dumb People
Not arguing or fighting with my mother.
She isn't gonna try to change or accept any new information. She's just gonna get emotional, take it as an insult, and insult me back, which just gets me yelling out of anger.
I just treat her with kid gloves and we actually get along pretty well now. She's kind of dumb, but not an evil person. Her deficits, also, are not deficits of mine, so I don't have to fix her to fix me.
Snoopy: Tale Of A Good Boy
When I was about 10 years old my parents and I were in our backyard clearing out a ton of weeds that had gotten out of hand. I had trouble focusing because our next door neighbor had this really adorable puppy and all I wanted to do was play with him.
We found out that they were actually going to take him to an animal shelter because their son was not taking care of him like he promised. I decided to ask my parents if maybe we could get him instead. I was an only child and never really have anyone to play with unless a friend would come over and the thought of having a puppy to play with whenever I wanted to was great.
My parents agreed and our neighbors offered to sell him to us for $20. I had that saved up and immediately agreed and promised I care for him and love him forever. So, he became my puppy, my brother, and after a few days of debating I named him Snoopy.
Snoopy became my closest friend. He made me laugh, played with me, and would just hang out and watch TV with me. He was always there for me, especially through some tough times in my life where I was extremely self-destructive. He saved me from myself. He was there at my side through tough breakups where all I ever wanted to do was lay in bed. He was an amazing friend. He was there to see me graduate 8th grade, high school, and college. I hoped he would be there on the day I got married and maybe be around for when I had kids, but unfortunately as much as we wish for things, sometimes they don't happen.
This is the first picture of I have of us together and this is the last. Today is the 4-year anniversary of his death after being by my side for almost 17 years. That little ball of fur in the first picture made such a huge impact on my life bringing me years of happiness, friendship, amd love. Even though I'm sad he's gone, I'm grateful to have had him in my life.
Dat Smart Water Doe
Electrolyte supplements, which I only started taking because it's recommended for runners, almost completely eradicated my skipped heartbeats which had bothered me for over 10 years.
Electrolytes are basically electrical conductors that are fundamental for the normal function of the heart. So although my problem wasn't life-threatening, it was certainly a relief to put a stop to it.
Kitty Protection Force
My 11 yr old cat gets harassed by other cats occasionally (like once or twice a day) and he always runs to my room now because he knows I'll protect him from them. Over the past couple years he seems to have noticed that I protect him from them and shows his affection much more for me now.
He sleeps with me now, to the point where he will come from across the house if he hears me getting ready for bed, and even lays on top of the pillow across from me, sometimes even laying on my arm.
He keeps me company at night and I feel like he actually loves me, even though a lot of people seem to think cats can't love. He genuinely improves my mental health every single day.
Coming Out Of My Cage And I've Been Doin Just Fine
I stopped wasting time on my pc 24/7 and instead started meeting up with friends three days a week. I still play the occasional hour of racing games etc. but it has had a huge impact on my social skills and I got to know more people. I also noticed being a shut-in made me more prone to getting sick, so I figured spending some time outside and getting some sunlight might help with that.
A Couch A Day Keeps The Demons Away
Going to a mental health professional.
It's not just like sitting on a couch and paying someone to listen to your rambles. If you end up with an excellent therapist, s/he can really help in dealing with your hangups and mental issues using scientifically proven methods. And sometimes, it's not even your brain that's the problem - it can be the people around you that are causing you mental torment. A good therapist can help identify those people and help you deal with them.
If you think that you need to go to a mechanic when your car breaks, then you should also consider going to a mental health professional when your brain needs rewiring.
Your Passions Be Your Guide
Music. My friends and other people in high school told me that joining band and marching band in senior year would be my biggest mistake and regret. Turns out that it's the reason why I'm going to miss high school so much once I graduate this year. Now it's my biggest passion, brings me joy, and I learned to listen to practically every genre there is.
Point is, find something that you think you might like. Try it once consistently, meaning don't just try it one day and throw it away, try it for a week or something to actually determine whether you like it or not. It might end up changing everything.
I tried music and it is something that I have nothing bad to say about. So much that I'm planning to continue music in some way during college and even as an adult.
In The Now
One small thing that changed my for the better, would be the habit-forming and behavioral/cognitive implementation of mindfulness and basic meditation into your everyday life. You don't need to be led to a mountaintop by a shaman to meditate in a basic way, reap the benefits of such, and be more mindful in your everyday life. Plus it helps deal with stress in a healthy (and free) way. It just takes effort - which for many, is the toughest asking point.
There are some modern tools useful in the application of such; namely, the utility of podcasts and apps on our phones. With the help of these, we can get some assistance in learning how to be more mindful and utilize something like meditation in 2019. Personally I use one called Headspace - super simple stuff here, but it definitely has helped me.
I also like Sam Harris' podcast, so I tried out his app too (Waking Up). I haven't used it as much, but so far I definitely enjoy it as well. Would recommend, if you want to learn the basics of mindfulness and meditation without it being abstract or scary. By working these exercises into our daily routines, we can learn to be more mindful, and learn more adaptive ways to cope with life's small, but consistent, stressors.