“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”
―Gabriel García Márquez
It takes no more time to see the good side of life and act upon it than it does to see the bad side and trip over it. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your thinking. If you know you’re on the wrong track right now, take a deep breath. It’s OK. Sometimes you have to be wrong before you can be right.
The road of life is rarely smooth. It’s easy to stumble and fall and hurt yourself. But these bumps and bruises are a necessary part of your growth – you fall down, you learn something, and then you brush yourself off and move forward.
Today, let’s take a step forward. Your bad habits – the ones that hurt your health and happiness – are 100% dependent on YOU for their survival. Stop allowing these habits to control, limit, stifle, and discourage you from being your best self. Today is YOURS to shape; own it! Break free from the bad habits that are poisoning and diluting your potential.
1. Stop resisting what is.
Life is a series of continuous natural events and changes. Don’t resist them; doing so only creates unnecessary stress. Let the reality of these events and changes take place. Let them flow. Or as Henry Wadsworth once said, “For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
To move forward in life you must first accept the reality of what it is. This acceptance provides you with an important starting point from which you can move in any direction you choose. To deny this reality or to fight against the past will merely waste your time and energy. To wish that things were different, or to pretend that they are, gets you nowhere.
Acceptance is letting go and allowing things to be the way they truly are. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about improving the realities of life; it’s just realizing that the only thing you really have control over is yourself in the present moment. This simple understanding is the foundation of acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be peace and growth in your life.
Forgiveness is a big part of this process. Forgiveness is the acceptance of the present moment, as it is, without attachment to any other time, place, or circumstance. Almost all negativity is caused by a lack of forgiveness and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, guilt, tension, stress, worry, and resentment – all forms of unhealthy attachment – are caused by too much past and future, and not enough presence.
2. Stop over-complicating things.
There are specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world that you have to understand before you can awaken to a simpler, happier life. As Einstein once said, “Out of clutter, find simplicity; from discord, find harmony; in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”
Sometimes we make life more complicated than it is. We attach our happiness to achievement and then look for it in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places. Of course, you don’t have to live like this. If you feel like you are, it’s time to simplify things. It’s time to clear the air and get back to the basics.
Simplifying is not seeing how little you can get by with – that’s poverty – but how efficiently you can put first things first, and use your time accordingly to pursue the things that make a difference and mean the most to you. Less really is more. Instead of adding, improve your life by subtracting. Get rid of unnecessary clutter, negative influences and toxic relationships. There is a big difference between what you want and what you need, between what’s excessive and what’s essential.
3. Stop going through the motions without knowing where you’re going.
Life is kind of like climbing a ladder; you can climb the ladder as fast as you want, but it’s going to be a stressful waste of time if you get to the top and realize you’re leaning against the wrong wall. You need to get this step in your life right to ensure that you are not wasting your energy on goals that you do not truly want to achieve. Make sure your goals are truly YOURS, and in line with your values. If you’re striving for someone else’s goals you are never going to be motivated or happy pursuing them.
So the key is to figure out a few things that you truly want, and make sure you truly understand why you want these things. Then write your mission statement. It’s not just about setting goals; it’s a big picture project that helps you figure out who you are, what you represent, and where you intend to go in life. It’s your personal manifesto – a framework for determining your actions, priorities, and opportunities.
Establish goals that inspire you even if they seem slightly out of reach at the moment. If you set goals that are too easy to achieve, you likely achieve far less than you are capable of. As Les Brown so profoundly said, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you will still be standing among the stars.”
4. Stop abandoning your downtime.
Sometimes you just need to rest, think and be thankful. Go ahead and withdraw from the cares of the world that will not withdraw from you.
Every person needs some time away – a few calm moments every day to consciously separate the productive from the busy and the past from the present. Commitments, obligations, family, employers and friends can exist during this time frame without you. You deserve this time away in which no problems are faced and no solutions explored.
Remember that rest is part of growing and getting stronger. Your body and mind need to shut down every now and then to recuperate. It’s simple: slow down, breathe and get more sleep. Results = work + rest.
Create healthy habits for downtime. No screens within 30 minutes of bedtime. Drink decaffeinated tea instead of coffee and soda. Decompress by writing, reading or meditating. Get at least seven hours of sleep to rejuvenate your mind and muscles. Etc.
5. Stop using non-prescribed drugs to numb your true self.
Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your body and mind, your self-respect and everything good that goes along with your self-esteem.
People use drugs, legal and illegal, because the lives they choose to live are intolerably dull and unhappy. They hate their surroundings, their work and routines and find no comfort in their leisure activities. They are estranged from their true friends, families and passions, and yet they still find time to chat with a stranger at a bar about matters of insignificance. It should tell you something, that many forms of drug use in our society are socially acceptable and socially promoted, whereas this same level of consumption among our moments of solitude are often lonely and shameful. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost touch with our true selves and each other.
Forget the drugs. Focus on reality. Feel your true senses and use them to fuel your journey.
6. Stop eating garbage.
Health can make or break your happiness and potential for success. You have to feed your body what it needs – REAL food. You don’t have to be a vegan, go Paleo, or keep up with a crazy diet to be healthy. Just eat high quality, nutritious foods and eliminate sugars and processed garbage. Eat foods that come from the Earth, not out of some machine or chemistry set.
Also, practice mindful eating. Don’t dine in front of the television. No eating straight out of the bag either. Make yourself a plate and measure out reasonable portions. Try to savor or at least taste what you are eating. Use smaller plates and drink more water to prevent overeating.
7. Stop neglecting your body.
Move and you will be rewarded with energy, confidence and clear thinking.
Regardless of the size and shape of your body, it is the greatest tool you will ever own and the only place you ever truly live. Without it, you wouldn’t be alive. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.
Studies have shown that exercising for fifteen minutes, three days each week, can add three years to your life. And it will also help you feel darn good about yourself, because a fit, healthy body is by far the most attractive fashion statement.
8. Stop slacking on doing the work.
There is no secret to success, health or happiness, except doing the work. Don’t ask for permission or apologize for wanting to pursue a meaningful goal; just pursue it already. Be confident in your abilities and clueless to the idea that failure is an option. Learn as you go. Fail forward.
The world needs your ideas, your art, and your work. If you are holding back because you’re scared, you’re not just letting yourself down; you’re letting us all down. Forget about critics and pessimists; share your intelligence and unique perspectives. Once you do, and the hustle gets in your veins, failure will cease to be relevant.
Be willing to do the work because you believe in it, because you can, because it’s the right thing to do. Persist despite uncertainties and second-guessing. Do it consistently today, tomorrow and every day thereafter. Walk the talk. Actions speak so much louder than words. Stop talking about all of the great ideas you have and DO something EPIC. Explanations and justifications are useless when actions and results speak for themselves.