The Freakonomics blog reported that Bogota, Colombia used to be one of the worst places in the world for traffic fatalities. Until the mimes. Yes, mimes. Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bogota, introduced hired mimes to tame the city’s unruly traffic. The mimes ridiculed bad behavior and handed out thumbs-up/thumbs-down cards to shame bad drivers. Over a very short period of time, the roadways became much more efficient and the deaths by automobiles dropped significantly. Apparently, drivers don’t like mimes giving them a hard time.
It’s amazing what a minuscule, even silly, act can do to make a big change. It’s amazing what a minuscule, even silly, act like hiring mimes can do to make a big change. It doesn’t take much to change everything. This principle starts in your own home. Here are 10 small changes you can make with your family that lead to a big change.
1. Eliminate television during family meal times.
Have some conversation starters in your pocket. Require participation. Nobody leaves until the parents say the meal is over. More family time, plus less media equals win-win.
2. Spend five one-on-one, undistracted minutes with each child every day.
This will soon become one of your favorite activities, and it will grow. It’s a family relationship primer.
3. Keep a log of each and every dollar you spend for one month.
Simply collecting the data will begin to change your spending habits.
4. Go to each child’s room after they’re asleep and pray for them.
Sometimes this is the only moment of the day when you can remember what’s important. Expect to shed some tears.
5. Say absolutely nothing negative to your family for one week.
Negativity tends to be a ball that rolls in the same direction. Interrupt this one before it begins. This change will color everything else.
6. Do one random act of kindness once a week for the next three months.
OK, so it’s not random if you plan it. But the others will be. This one will grow and the intervention will soon go both ways.
7. Write a sentence of affirmation for each member of your family.
Then post it where they will see it. Some things need to be said out loud, and often: “I love you.” “You are an awesome kid.” “I’m so glad I’m your dad.” “I still get misty-eyed when I think that you chose to marry me….”
8. Remove the television from your bedroom.
This isn’t just about romance. It’s about communication. Well, communication can be romance—or at least it’s a critical prerequisite.
9. Find out and then remember a few obscure anniversaries.
First date? The day you got engaged? The day you first realized you were in love with your future wife? The day you found out you were expecting your first child? The day you purchased your first home? The possibilities are huge.
10. Start every day by serving your wife a hot drink in bed.
It sets the relationship trajectory for the day. Big results.