The Surprisingly Simple Daily Habit That Can Make You Happier

Por Hope Winsborough |

SilverSneakers trainer Michelle Oubre shares her tips to assess your well-being and make small choices that can improve your life in big ways.

SilverSneakers trainer Michelle Oubre

For as long as she can remember, SilverSneakers national trainer Michelle Oubre has loved movement.  

She's been dancing since she was a child, and even became an inaugural member of the New Orleans Saints' dance team. She has worked in the world of fitness for more than 16 years, as an inspirational group fitness instructor and the owner and manager of a gym.

And now, for SilverSneakers LIVE, she teaches everything from Walk Strong (Express) to Yoga Flow — not to mention the popular new Line Dancing class she helped develop. 

It’s ironic, then, that Oubre’s top wellness tip is to embrace stillness.  

“I’ve learned that wellness starts when we stop, breathe, and inventory our state of balance in life,” Oubre says. “You can’t begin to nurture yourself physically until you take a pause and say, ‘Where am I spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically?’”   

Emotional well-being and fitness go together! SilverSneakers classes and events are happening daily at participating gyms, online through SilverSneakers LIVE, and at community centers near you. Activate your free online account to get started.

The Big Deal With Small Choices 

True wellness isn't just about how many steps you take, she explains. "It's all about micro-choices you make each day."

Her approach: Live one day at a time, striving to always exist in the present moment. To do that, you don't have to make big, dramatic changes. Instead, focus on the little things. Create opportunities to achieve small successes every day with the goal of getting just a little bit better each time.

How can you get started? Oubre has distilled her daily routine into an easy-to-remember acronym - STAND. It represents:

  • Silence 
  • Take a Pulse 
  • Ask Questions 
  • Notice 
  • Do it Every Day 

Here’s how STAND can help you make the most of each day.  

S is for Silence 

“The world can be a noisy place,” Oubre says. So set aside 10 minutes or so each day to just “be” in silence.  

"Take a breath and notice where you are and how you're feeling," Oubre suggests. "If you never take the time to stop and think, you can get pulled in so many different directions."

You may have to get up earlier to find an oasis of silence, she acknowledges - and that could mean going to bed earlier, too. But finding a few moments a day for reflection can help heal your mind-and your body.

Work Out with Michelle Oubre! She teaches Line Dancing, Walk Strong (Express), Gentle Stretch (Express), and Yoga Flow. View the SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP here.  

T is for Take a Pulse 

For this step, you’ll want to assess your state of mind in the current moment.  

“We’re usually thinking about the past or the future,” Oubre says, “so the trick is to be exactly where you are.”   

It's not quite as easy as it sounds. Try a simple process to get started - like journaling, meditating, praying, or making a note of all the things you're grateful for.

Recommended reading: What Is Mindfulness Meditation: The SilverSneakers Guide  

A is for Asking Questions 

Feeling present in the moment? Then it's time to ask yourself some open-ended questions. Answer them as honestly and authentically as you can.

"Look at all the aspects of your life and ask, 'Where am I the most off-balance?'" Oubre says. "Decide which of the four aspects of your being - mental, spiritual, physical, emotional - is the most off-balance and focus in on that."

You may need to do a bit of digging, but the goal is to pinpoint which parts of you need attention. 

N is for Notice 

The key for this tip, Oubre says, is to notice where you need to make a change. Then, set small, attainable goals. 

For example, suppose you realize you haven’t been doing much physical activity lately. As a result, you may decide to walk 15 minutes each day.  

And the goal doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical one. “If your spirit is off-balance, you may need to forget movement for the time being,” Oubre says. Instead, you might prioritize emotional healing.  

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For instance, if you're newly retired, you may feel you've lost your sense of purpose. In that case, it's helpful to redefine what your purpose is. Maybe it's being a grandparent, volunteering, or tutoring - whatever brings joy and meaning to your life.

When you take the time to notice which parts of you need healing, you can implement changes that have a big impact.  

Love these emotional well-being tips and want more? Take a SilverSneakers LIVE Mindfulness & Meditation (Express) Class! View the schedule and RSVP here.   

D is for Do it Every Day  

Once you’ve identified what you need to do to get back into balance, it’s important to be consistent. 

Oubre knows this firsthand. After selling her gym and becoming a national trainer for SilverSneakers, she felt a sense of isolation. “I went from being in front of people all day to connecting through a pinhole,” she says. 

Practicing the STAND steps helped her realize she needed to make a consistent effort to reconnect with others. She began to take micro-breaks, go for walks, and schedule regular lunch dates with her friends.

“Change isn’t easy,” she recalls, “but I had to slow down and ask myself, ‘Why am I feeling this way?’”  

The practice not only benefited her, but it also helped her tune in to how her students might be feeling. During each class, she reminds members that there is more to wellness than just exercising and eating well.

"Small changes done consistently over time yield big results, and not just in terms of physical fitness," she explains, "We are what we consistently do. Our choices determine our habits-and our habits are our destiny."

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