When do you experience anger? You become angry when you are frustrated, unhappy, or when your feelings are hurt. You also experience it when plans don’t turn out as desired, or when coming against opposition or criticism.
Anger never helps anyone. It wastes your energy, and hurts your health, spoils your relationships, and causes you to miss opportunities. Getting angry is acting against your best interests.
Things don’t always proceed according to plans and expectations. People do not always act the way you wish them to act.
You may not be always be in control of external influences and conditions, but you can certainly learn to control your attitude and reactions.
There is no sense of allowing circumstances and people to pull your strings and affect your mind and feelings.
You can choose not to let what people say and do affect your moods.
I often see people getting angry over unimportant and insignificant matters. Some insignificant remark or action, not getting a satisfactory reply to a question, or just moodiness, are enough to set fire and cause anger, snappy remarks, arguments, and even physical fight. This is absolutely unnecessary. Life can be happier without this behavior.
Anger is a negative reaction, and if you wish to progress on the path of self-improvement or spiritual growth you should avoid it as much as possible.
Learning to calm down the restlessness of the mind and gaining peace of mind, is one of the best and most effective methods to overcome anger, and in fact, all negative emotions.
If you are willing to invest the time and energy, you will reap great rewards. Peace of mind will not only help you overcome anger, but also help you overcome anxiety and negative thinking, and enable you to stay calm, tranquil and self possessed in difficult and trying situations.
Peace of mind requires the development of an attitude of emotional and mentaldetachment, which is of vital importance for overcoming and avoiding anger. It protects you against being too affected by what people think, say or do, and is therefore highly recommended. Detachment is not an attitude of indifference and lack of sensitivity. It is an attitude of common sense and inner strength and leads to peace of mind.
I would like to suggest a few simple tips for inner detachment and peace of mind, tol help you overcome anger:
1. Devote a few minutes, at least once a day, to thinking on how much your life would be better without anger.
2. When you feel anger arising in you, start breathing deeply and slowly several times.
3. You may, instead of breathing deeply, or better still, in addition to it, count slowly from one to ten. This will delay your angry reaction and weaken it.
4. Drinking some water has a calming effect on the body.
5. Try to be more patient, no matter how difficult it might be.
6. Be more tolerant toward people, even toward people you don’t like.
7. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. You can disagree with people, but still maintain tact and diplomacy.
8. Choose to react calmly and peacefully in every situation. Try again and again, regardless of how many times you lose control and get angry.
9. Positive thinking makes it easier to disregard remarks and behavior that otherwise could cause anger.
10. Try to manifest at least some self-control, self-discipline and more common sense.
11. Don’t take everything too seriously. It is not worth it.
Knowing yourself completely is difficult, and it’s impossible to solve for every single cognitive bias you have. But just because we suck at it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. You can’t solve every problem in your life, but you can make some headway on minor changes. Here are a few ways of doing just that:
Learn to look at yourself objectively: It’s nearly impossible to actually look at yourself objectively, but it’s always worth a shot. As we’ve talked about before, the main idea here is to study and criticize your decisions. Even better, find some trustworthy friends to talk with and listen to their criticisms.
Write your own manifesto: The main purpose of self-awareness is self-improvement, so it makes sense that you need to have goals. If you’re struggling with that part, a manifesto is a great way to push yourself into figuring out what you want.
Keep a journal: As Kahneman noted above, our memory colors the past pretty deeply. If you want a more accurate gauge of yourself, a journal is a great way to get it. A journal makes you more aware of what you’re doing and where problems might be coming from because you can document anything. If you spend time documenting the little things, like food intake, water intake, or sleep, you might notice a larger trend that you can correct for. If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of your decision making skills, Harvard Business Review suggests writing down what you think will happen with a decision, then wait nine or ten months and review what you wrote.
Perform a self-review: The self-review is one of those annoying little things we all do at work, but you can make them beneficial if you think of them more as a thought experiment. Instead of spending your time thinking about what you should improve about yourself, think about what you boss thinks you should do and what co-workers might say. This way, you can see yourself from someone else’s perspective and gain a little extra insight into yourself.
It’s important to remember that self-awareness is introspection, but it’s not navel gazing. Self-absorption and overthinking doesn’t get you anywhere, but being aware of your needs and acting on them can help you improve. You might not realize how often what you’re doing doesn’t correlate to what you want.
We all make assumptions, and many of them turn out to be wrong. But noticing those and learning from them is hard. Maintaining a “Surprise Journal” can make reality clearer and help you improve yourself.
Julia Galef of the Center for Applied Rationality says her technique helps you confront your confirmation bias, separating reality from assumptions in a gentle way. In your Surprise Journal, write down anything that surprises you and why. Ignore whether the surprise is positive or negative and simply note what it is.
The Surprise Journal has two benefits. First, you start noticing more odd or unusual things, simply because you looking out for them. Second, it is a soft blow for your biased brain to admit when something is against expectations:
“People generally don’t want to give in to evidence that they might be wrong—and I include myself here—because it is stressful to admit it, even to yourself… We train ourselves to avoid it.”
On the other hand, looking for surprises in the world can be an empowering or exhilarating experience. “It appeals to my curiosity and it just feels different—it feels like I am getting as clear a picture of the world as I can,” she says.
The end result, as Galef mentions, is that you become more aware of areas where you need improvement. For example, Galef’s ratings as a teacher were lower than colleagues, which indicated over-confidence in her abilities and not taking on feedback to get better.
The conclusions of your Surprise Journal are going to be what you make of them, but the mere act of noticing the disparity should set you on the right path, according to Galef.
“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.” Bo Bennett
“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.” Peter McWilliams
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin
One of the very first things I started to work on consciously with my own personal development was to improve my outlook on life.
It was over 10 years ago that I started to delve into this topic and to step by step – and while sometimes tumbling backwards – build a more optimistic outlook.
An attitude that would over time become more and more stable so that I could not only look at the world in a positive way during good days. But also so I could stay positive and constructive even during tough times and keep working towards something better.
In this article I’d like to share 11 of the best, smartest and most effective habits for doing so that I have learned during over more than a decade.
I hope you will find something helpful here.
1. Find the optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.
One of the simplest but most effective ways to build a more positive outlook has in my experience been to ask more helpful questions as often as possible.
When I am in what seems like a negative situation – maybe I have made a mistakes, I have failed or stumbled in some kind of way – then I like to ask myself questions like:
What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
What is one opportunity within this situation?
Doing so is a whole lot better than what I used to do in such situations. Because back then I usually asked myself how much I sucked and how things could get even worse now.
I do however not always use these questions right away. Oftentimes I need a bit of time to process the thoughts and feelings that arise in situation before I can do that. Trying to force optimistic thinking when you are still in an emotional turmoil or a bit shocked usually don’t work that well.
2. Cultivate and live in a positive environment.
Who you choose to spend your time with and the input you get from further away like the TV, the internet and magazines will have a huge effect on your outlook.
To be able to stay positive it is essential to have influences in your life that support you and lift you up instead of dragging you down.
So carefully consider what you let into your mind.
You can for example ask yourself:
Who are the 3 most negative people I spend time with?
What are the 3 of most negative sources of information I spend time on?
Consider the answers. Then think about how you can start spending less time with one of those people or information sources this week.
And how you can spend more of the time you have now freed up with one of the most positive sources or people in your life.
3. Go slowly.
I have found that when I go too fast, when I try to think, talk, eat and move around in my world really quickly then things don’t go too well.
Stress builds up. Negative thoughts about just about anything start to well up and I feel like my own personal power decreases.
But if I slow down just for a few minutes – even if I have to force it by walking, talking and eating slower – then my mind and body calms down too. It becomes easier to think things through clearly again and easier to find the optimistic and constructive perspective.
4. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
It’s very easy to lose perspective, especially if you are stressed and you are going too fast.
A simple three step way to handle these situations so they don’t get out of hand is to:
Say stop. In your mind, shout “STOP!” or “NOPE, we are not going down that path again!” as soon as thoughts of this kind starts to spin in your head.
Breathe. After you have disrupted the thoughts by shouting stop sit down and just be still. Breathe with your belly and focus on just your in-breaths and out-breaths for a minute or two to calm your mind and body down.
Refocus. Question your mountain building thoughts by talking to someone close to you and getting a more grounded perspective on the situation by just venting or by getting his or her input. Or simply ask yourself this to widen your perspective and to chill out: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?
5. Don’t let vague fears hold you back from doing what you want.
Sometimes you may want to take a chance in life. Start a new habit that feels unfamiliar, your own business on the side or ask someone out for a date.
A common trap when you want to do one of those things is to get lost in vague fears about what could happen if you actually took action.
And so the mind runs wild fueled by fear and it creates nightmare scenarios.
I know. I have been there many times.
So I have learned to ask myself this: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?
When I have figured that out I also spend a bit of time on trying to figure out what I could do if that that often pretty unlikely thing happens.
I have over the years discovered that the worst thing that could realistically happen is usually not as scary as the nightmare my fear-fueled mind could produce.
Finding clarity in this way doesn’t take much time or effort and it can help you to avoid much mind made suffering. And help you to get going, step outside of your comfort zone and take that chance.
6. Add value and positivity to someone else’s life.
What you send out you tend to get back from the world and the people in it.
Not from everyone. And not every time.
But what you send out there matters a whole lot.
What you give them and how you treat them is what you’ll get back. And they way you treat others and how you think of them also tend to have a big effect on how you treat and think about yourself.
So give value and spread the positivity by for example:
Helping out. Lend a hand when moving. Give a friend a ride in your car. Or if he or she needs information then help out by checking it up on Google or asking a friend of yours.
Just listening. Sometimes people don’t want any direct help. They just want someone to be there fully and listening as they vent for a little while.
Boosting the mood. Smile. Give hugs when appropriate. Play uplifting music when hanging out with a friend or suggest an inspiring movie for your movie night. Or encourage when someone has had a bad day or are going through a tough time.
7. Exercise regularly and eat and sleep well.
This is very obvious of course.
But I know the big, big impact a good night’s sleep or good workout can have when my thoughts are pessimistic and I have a lot of tensions on the inside.
And I know how much simpler it is to think clearly and optimistically when my belly is not empty.
So I highly recommend being careful about these basic habits that may sound boring. Because they do have a huge effect either way depending on how you manage them.
8. Learn to take criticism in a healthy way.
One of the most common fears is the fear of criticism. It can hold people back from doing what they want in life. Because having negativity flowing out of someone’s mouth or email and it being about you can hurt. And being rejected can sing quite a bit.
But if you want to take action on what you deep down want then criticism is pretty much unavoidable. So the key is learning to handle it in a healthier way. By doing so your fear of it will lessen and it will hurt less if you do get criticized.
I usually use four steps when I get some criticism. Maybe they can help you out too:
Step 1: Don’t reply right away. When you are angry, upset or riled up then is time to calm down a bit before you reply. Take at least a couple of deep breaths or a little time to process the message before you respond.
Step 2: Really listen to the criticism. Try to remain open and level-headed and figure out how this message can help you. Ask yourself: Is there one thing I can learn from this criticism? Is there something here that I may not want to hear but could help me?
Step 3: Remember that the criticism isn’t always about you. Some criticism is helpful. Some is simply attacks or someone lashing out because they are having bad day, year or job. To lessen the sting of such criticism – often really angry or overly critical in an unconstructive way – I try to be understanding. I think to myself that this person might not be feeling so good at the moment.
Step 4: Reply or let go. No matter the content of for example an email I try to keep my reply level-headed and kind. I may add a question or two to get more specific feedback that is helpful. And if they don’t reply or I have simply gotten a nasty attack then it is time to delete it and to let that situation go.
9. If something still gets under your skin then know what to do.
Sometimes something can still get under your skin and hurt you. Even if you use the steps above.
Two things that have helped me with that challenge are:
Let it out. Just letting that issue out into the light talking it over with someone close can be very helpful to see it for what it actually is. And to find a healthier perspective on the situation.
Improve your self-esteem. I have found over the years that with a stronger self-esteem things drag me down less and they don’t ruin my day as much anymore. Negativity from others bounces off me much more often instead. If you want to practical help with this then have a look at my 12-week, step-by-step Self-Esteem Course.
10. Start your day in a positive way.
How you start your day usually sets the tone for the rest of your day.
So be careful about how you spend your mornings. If you get going at full speed, lost in future troubles in your mind then the stress, perceived loss of power of over your life and negative thoughts will ramp up quickly.
If you on the other hand start your day by moving slowly, by having an uplifting conversation with your family or friend or you spend some time with reading or listening to inspiring and helpful articles or podcasts over breakfast or during your bus ride to work then that can make a big difference for how your whole day will go.
11. Mindfully move through your day.
When you spend your time in the present moment then it becomes so much easier to access positive emotions and to stay practical about what you can actually do about something in your life.
When you get lost in the past or future like so many of us have spent a lot of time on doing then worries very easily become bigger. And failures and mistakes from the past being replayed over and over in your mind drag you down into pessimism.
By moving slowly through your morning and hopefully through much of the rest of your day it becomes easier to mindfully stay in the moment you are in.
Another simple way to reconnect with the moment in you are in and to put your full attention there again is to focus just on what is going on around you right now for a minute or two with all your senses. See it. Hear it. Smell it. Feel the sun, rain or cold wind on your skin.
It might sound like a small and insignificant thing to do. But this simplifying reconnection with the moment can have a very positive effect on the rest of your day.
Inspiration comes in the most unusual ways. You never know where the most perfect piece of wisdom might show up. While cruising along the highway between Edmonton and Calgary, I passed under an electronic sign with a large, red flashing message:
WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK?
Now it was just a reminder to buckle up your seatbelt, but this is a great question to ask yourself as you travel the highway of life.
What’s holding you back from doing, saying, being anything you want?
The short answer is simply YOU.
Why Do You Limit Yourself?
Lots of things get in the way of having the life you want. Fears, expectations, excuses, that little creeping voice that says, “what will happen if…”
There’s no end to the obstacles that can stop you dead in your tracks. The truth is most of the barriers you encounter are ones you create yourself.
All of those reasons that rumble around in your head simply strap you down just like a seat belt. Oh it’s safe all right, but life is not really a car ride where you are just along for the view.
Time to Shift Out of Neutral
Life is meant to be lived – full out – taking some risks. People who live truly satisfying lives are people who let go of the idea of holding back. They know you only get one kick at this road trip so you might as well end up where you really want to go.
Not holding back probably means doing some things differently. Creating change in your life is like shifting out of neutral and into another gear. You need to give it some gas so you can take it to the next level. And like on the highway, a little more speed is a little bit riskier.
3 New Gears to Try Out
So how do you shift up and take back the road?
Pay attention to the voices that are playing in your head. You always listen when you talk to yourself. What are you saying to you? If you regularly use words like can’t, won’t or shouldn’t, it’s time for a new conversation.
Practice until you’re good at it. Remember when you first learned to drive? Bet it wasn’t the smoothest of rides. Take opportunities to stretch your limits, even just a bit. The more you practice, the more you will be willing to try it again.
Risk is a relative thing. There are times when holding back is not such a bad idea. Be honest with yourself. Are you creating obstacles out of fear? Or are you in a zone that requires you to proceed with caution?
Life is Meant to Be a Wild Ride.
There’s a great piece of wisdom in the movie Thelma and Louise.
“You get what you settle for.”
Now that’s a couple of women who decided life was worth unbuckling the seatbelt. You may not want to drive headlong into the Grand Canyon, but chances are there are lots of places where you can take off the cruise control.
Go for it. What are you willing to settle for?
Laurel Vespi, certified life coach and chief executive guru of stone circle coaching, ignites businesses & individuals to new levels of CHANGE. Laurel works with clients internationally, providing unconventional yet practical tips that make the seemingly impossible… possible! Sign up for Laurel’s free ezine and get a free guidebook to blissful living at StoneCircleCoaching.com
And, for the most part, I’m okay with that, since I can always be a better me. I can ride faster or climb better than I do now, and I can make a bigger difference in the lives of my family and friends.
Think about the people you admire and pick a few of their qualities to emulate, not their accomplishments.
You can’t be them.
The cool thing is, they can’t be you.
Let others be who they are. Your customers, your vendors, your suppliers… they aren’t going to change. Don’t expect them to.
Pick one source of frustration and decide what you will do differently, including, possibly, walking away.
When you stop focusing on negatives you may start to notice the positive qualities you missed. Rarely are people as bad as you make them out to be—and if they are, it’s up to you to make whatever changes are necessary.
Help an employee. Don’t wait to be asked. Pick someone who is struggling and offer to help.
But don’t just say, “Is there some way I can help you?” Be specific: Offer to help with a specific task, or to take over a task for a few days, or to work side-by-side.
A general offer is easy to brush aside. A specific offer not only shows you want to help, it shows you care.
Help a superstar. Counterintuitive? No way.
Compared to others, the best-performing people don’t need help so they rarely get it. As a result they’re often lonely, at least in a professional sense.
Offer to help with a specific task. Not only will you build a nice interpersonal bridge, some of their skills or qualities might rub off on you.
Help anyone. Few things feel better than helping a person in need. Take a quick look around; people less fortunate than you are everywhere.
For example, I conducted an interview skills seminar for prison inmates (after all, who needs to know how to deal with tough interview questions more than a convicted felon?) It only took an hour of my time and was incredibly rewarding.
Most of the prisoners were touchingly grateful that someone—that anyone—cared enough to want to help them. I got way more out of the experience than they did.
Change measurements. Over time we all develop our own ways to measure our performance.
Maybe you focus on time to complete, or quality, or end result. Each is effective, but sticking with one or two could cause you to miss opportunities to improve.
Say you focus on meeting standards; what if you switched it up and focused on time to complete?
Measuring your performance in different ways forces you to look at what you regularly do from a new perspective.
Change benchmarks. If you develop apps it’s fun to benchmark against, say, the success of Angry Birds. Setting an incredible goal is fine—if you don’t aim high you won’t reach high—but failing to hit a lofty goal can kill your motivation.
So choose a different benchmark. Look for companies or people with similar assets, backgrounds, etc. and try to beat their results. Then, after you do, choose another target.
Aim for the heights, but include a few steps along the way. The journey will be a lot more fun.
Go opposite. If you haven’t reached a goal then what you’re currently doing isn’t working.
Instead of tweaking your approach, take an entirely different tack. Pick one goal you’re struggling to achieve and try a completely different approach.
Sometimes small adjustments eventually pay off, but occasionally you just need to blow things up and start over.
Drop one thing. We all have goals. Often we have too many goals; it’s impossible to do 10 things incredibly well.
Take a look at your goals and pick at least one that you’ll set aside, at least for now. (Don’t feel bad about it. You weren’t reaching your goals anyway, so what’s the harm in dropping a few?)
Then put the time you were spending on that goal into your highest priority. You can’t have it all, but you can have a lot—especially when you narrow your focus to one or two key goals.
Change your workday. Get up earlier. Get up later. Take care of emails an hour after you start work. Eat at your desk.
Pick one thing you do on a regular basis, preferably something you do for no better reason than that’s the way you always do it and therefore it’s comfortable, and do that one thing in a different way or at a different time.
Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. Sometimes familiarity breeds complacency, and complacency is a progress and improvement killer.
Choose a new habit. Successful people are successful for a reason, and that reason is often due to the habits they create and maintain.
Take a close look at the people who are successful in your field: What do they do on a regular basis? Then adopt one of their habits and make it your own.
Never reinvent a wheel when a perfect wheel already exists.
Choose someone to mentor. I learn more when I teach than the people I’m trying to teach. (Hopefully that says more about the process of teaching than it does about my teaching abilities.)
When you mentor another person you accomplish more than just helping someone else. You build your network—and more importantly, you learn a few things about yourself.
Maintain a positive attitude. – Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. So be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us. Start listening to your thoughts. If you hear negative thoughts, stop for a second and replace them with positive thoughts. As the Dalai Lama once said, “The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.” For some practical positive thinking guidance, I recommend reading The Power of Positive Thinking.
Be kind to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.
Embrace problems as a natural part of growing. – Part of living and growing up is experiencing unexpected troubles in life. People losejobs, get sick, and sometimes die in car accidents. When you are younger, and things are going pretty well, this harsh reality can be hard to visualize. The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be tempered in our reactions. To want to scream obscenities, but to be wiser and more disciplined than that. To remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse. And to remember that tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.
Create your mission statement. – Mine was simply “To translate what gives me joy, fulfillment and makes me genuinely happy into a career that will allow me to work for myself and spend more time with my family.” This meant starting my own business as a coach to help individuals and small business owners get what they want out of their life and business. Formulating this sentence allows us to create a short mission statement that summarizes exactly what we want from life, which will help to keep it in the forefront of our minds when we’re making important decisions.
Exploit the resources you do have access to. – It’s not about having access to countless resources; it’s about exploiting the resources you do have access to. Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it. What resources do you have access to that you are not using?
Help others when you are able. – In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness.
Narrow your focus. – Concentrate your efforts on smaller and smaller areas. When your efforts are diffused over a wide area they won’t have much of an impact. So focus on smaller areas and your efforts will be felt more fully. It could take time for change to happen, but keep that focus narrow.
Stretch your comfort zone by trying new things. – Doing the same exact thing every day hinders self growth. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Growth happens when you change things – when you try new things – when you stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals. – Successful people are objective. They have realistic targets in mind. They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them. You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills. You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.
Make your own needs a priority. – Stop putting your needs on the back burner. The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
Learn and practice one new skill every week. – Self-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life. To be self-reliant one must master a basic set of skills, more or less making them a jack of all trades. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only one. And besides, learning new skills is fun. Check out this article, this article, andthis book.
Stop procrastinating. – Start taking action and making changes. Action and change are often resisted when they’re needed most. Get a hold of yourself and have discipline. Discipline is choosing what you really want over what you want right now. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier. What we don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow. And there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.
Forgive people and move forward. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life. Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you’ll have to love the people who love you.
Excel at what you do. – People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Be someone worth emulating. Most people are inspired by GREAT musicians, writers, painters, speakers, entrepreneurs, engineers, mothers, fathers, athletes, etc. There’s only one thing they all have in common: They excel at what they do. There’s no point in doing something if you aren’t going to do it right. Excel at your work and excel at your hobbies. Develop a reputation for yourself, a reputation for consistent excellence.
Identify the lesson in every situation. – Everything is a life lesson. Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc. They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’ Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way. If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting. And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.
Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re going to have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
Savor the joy of simple pleasures. – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best things in life are free. They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life. Read The Happiness Project.
Stop caring about what everyone else wants for you. – Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will usually give you awful advice. It’s not because they have evil intentions. It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions and life goals mean to you. They don’t understand that, to you, the reward is worth the risk. So they try to protect you by shielding you from the possibility of failure, which, in effect, also shields you from the possibility of making your dreams a reality.
Make small, positive changes every day. – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same philosophy holds true for making changes in your life. Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life.
Read great books. – The Web is grand. With its fame for hosting informative, easy-to-skim textual snippets and collaborative written works, people are spending more and more time reading online. Nevertheless, the Web cannot replace the authoritative transmissions from certain classic books that have delivered (or will deliver) profound ideas around the globe for generations. Read books that are packed with wisdom capable of igniting a new understanding of the world.
Keep an open mind. – Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right. The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know. We all have our own unique path and feelings. When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
Don’t rush intimate relationships. – Love is not about sex, going on fancy dates, or showing off. It’s about being with a person who makes you happy in a way nobody else can. You don’t need a perfect one, you just need someone who you can trust – who shows you that you’re the only one. If you haven’t found true love yet, don’t settle. There is someone out there who will love you unconditionally, even if it’s not the person you were initially hoping for.
Embrace change. – If nothing ever changed there would be no sunrise the next morning. Most of us are comfortable where we are even though the whole universe is constantly changing around us. Learning to accept this is vital to our happiness and general success. Because only when we change, do we grow, and begin to see a world we never knew was possible. And don’t forget, however good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So embrace it, and realize that change happens for a reason. It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
Choose to smile more often. – A smile is a choice, not a miracle. Don’t wait for people to smile. Show them how. A genuine smile makes you and everyone around you feel better. The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you’re happy. And when you’re happy, your body pumps out all kinds of feel-good endorphins. This reaction has been studied since the 1980’s and has been proven a number of times. Bottom line: Smiling actually makes you happier.
Let go of the past. – Don’t let the past steal your present and future from you. Accept the fact that the past in not today. You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay. The past is not today. The past cannot be changed, forgotten, or erased. It can only be accepted. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.
Face your fear of failure. – You might fail. And that’s OK. Failures are simply stepping stones to success. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win. The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake. If you can’t handle failure, then you can’t handle success either.
Be proud of yourself. – Being proud isn’t bragging about how great you are. It’s more like quietly knowing that you’re worth a lot. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect – because nobody is – but knowing that you’re worthy of being loved and accepted. Boost your self-esteem by recognizing your accomplishments and celebrating them. Acknowledge your positive qualities, and when you come across a quality in yourself that you aren’t proud of, don’t sulk in your sorrows, proactively work on correcting it. Read Today We Are Rich.
Be attentive to your stress level. – Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
Let go of regrets. – Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy. Be with who makes you smile. Laugh as much as you breathe. Love as long as you live. Say what you need to say. Offer a helping hand when you’re able. Appreciate all the things you do have. Smile. Celebrate your small victories. Learn from your mistakes. Realize that everything is a lesson in disguise. Forgive. And let go of the things you can’t control.
Keep learning and nurturing your personal growth. – Achieving higher consciousness comes from your commitment to personal growth. You’re a totally different person compared to who you were at this time last year; next year will be no different. How much you grow and who you become is up to you. But remember, the acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing; growing happens when what you know changes how you live.