Trust that today’s challenges will be responsible for your future growth.
Every day Marc and I work with course students who say all the right things and then do the exact opposite. They hope to experience growth, but they resist change. They want less stress, yet they indulge in drama. They long for better relationships, and then they refuse to trust anyone.
In other words, what they say they want, and what they actually do with their time, are hopelessly disconnected. And the two will likely never meet without intervention.
It’s important to note, though, that I get it. I understand where they’re coming from. I used to make the same mistakes. Change is hard to deal with. Needless drama can be addictive. Relationships take a lot of work. Life is not always as easy as we expect.
In a nutshell, when it comes to working hard to achieve a substantial life goal of any kind—earning a degree, building a business, fostering a relationship, raising a family, becoming more mindful, or any other personal achievement that takes time and commitment—one thing you have to ask yourself is:
“Am I willing to spend a little time every day like many people won’t, so I can spend the better part of my life like many people can’t?”
Think about it. We ultimately become what we repeatedly do. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing—growing happens when what you know changes how you live.
And isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different? That’s the power of consistency.
Here are twelve things to start doing consistently for your long-term happiness:
1. Exercise your integrity.
Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you are capable of. Communicating clearly and asking for what you want and need from people. Speaking your truth, even when others judge you for it. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your morals and values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe. And, of course, always doing the right thing, even when it’s hard, and even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
2. Steer clear of drama and those who create it.
There comes a time in life when you have to let go of all the needless drama and the people who create it. Staying out of other people’s drama is an incredibly effective way to stress less and smile more.
A good rule of thumb: If you can’t say it to their face, you shouldn’t say it behind their back. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” Life is much too short to waste time talking about people, gossiping, and stirring up drama that has no substance. If you don’t know, ask. If you don’t agree, say so. If you don’t like it, speak up. But never judge people behind their back.
3. Replace judgment with encouragement.
No one truly knows what they will do in a certain situation until they are actually in it. Yes, it’s very easy to judge someone else’s actions by what you assume your own actions would be if you were in their shoes. But you only know what you THINK you would do, not what you WOULD do.
The truth is, we tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our ideals. So do your best to catch yourself when this happens. Remember that when we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person, and everything about our own need to be critical.
Bottom line: We have enough critics in this world. Be an encourager. You’ll see why.
4. Be positive and spend time with positive people.
Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Raise your awareness to your own inner strength and positivity. You are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life, or you can choose to be positive instead by focusing on the great things that are truly important. So talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some kind of worthy struggle to get there.
In addition, do your best to spend more time with positive people and less time with negative ones. People that deliberately doubt, judge and disrespect you are not worth your long-term time and attention.
5. Make new choices as needed, rather than letting old ones make you.
You don’t get to decide if or when you might get hurt in this world, but you do have some control over who and what hurts you. After all, who we ultimately become depends, in part, on who and what we let into our lives. So don’t just settle for relationships and situations that have proven to be unworthy. Exercise your right to choose differently.
Be the hero of your life, not the victim. You may not control all the circumstances that happen to you, but you can decide not to be continuously reduced by the same ones.
6. Simplify whatever you can, whenever you can.
As E.F. Schumacher once said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
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 lasting difference in your life. 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.
7. Uphold your truth.
Too many of us prefer gentle lies to hard truths. But make no mistake, in the end it’s better to be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie. Especially if this lie is tied to your identity in any way. Because you can pretend for a while, but you can’t get away from yourself. You can’t decide not to see and feel yourself anymore. You can’t decide to turn off the noise in your head and be someone else entirely.
Don’t try to be what “they” like – be who you are. The people worth spending time with are interested in others who are confident enough to be themselves. And that works out well, because you won’t be happy being anyone else. (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
8. Express your love without reservations.
Love is a verb. Act on it. Today, be the reason someone feels incredibly loved and needed. Give your love away like your life depends on it.
Many moons from now, people won’t remember what clothes you wore, the car you drove, and maybe not even your name. But they will remember how you made them feel and the positive memories you gave them. The true impact you make on people will depend on the time and attention you give to teaching those who know less, caring for those who have less, supporting those who are striving, and tolerating those who are different than you. All of which represent the full expression of your love.
9. Nurture your relationship with your significant other.
Intimate love is not just about finding the right person, but working with them to create the right relationship. It’s not about how much love you have in the beginning, but how much love you build and nurture until the end. A relationship should be healthy, caring, loving, kind, upbeat and positive. It should make your smile a little wider and your life a little brighter in the long run.
A relationship like this sounds great, but it isn’t easy. It takes time and attention, and two people who are willing to work together every day to build something special.
10. Loosen your grip on what’s not meant to fit in to your life.
Things will happen that you will not always understand, but maybe you’re not supposed to understand everything. Maybe you’re just supposed to have faith, accept it and let it happen.
So never force anything. Give it your best shot, and then let it be.
Most negative circumstances are only a part of your life because you keep thinking about them. Positive things happen in your life when you emotionally distance yourself from the negative things. So stop holding on to what hurts, and make room for what feels right. Don’t let what is out of your control interfere with all the things you can control.
11. Embrace your humanness.
“Human” is the only real label we are born with. Yet we forget so easily.
To become attached to an opinionated label of depressed, divorced, diseased, rejected, or poor, is to be like the rain, that doesn’t know it is also the clouds… or the ice, that forgets it is water. For we are far more than the shape we’re currently in. And we, like the wind, water, and sky, will change forms many times in our lives, while forever remaining beautifully human.
12. Ask yourself the right questions.
What questions are you asking yourself on a regular basis? Are they helping you better understand your purpose? Or do they have your mind spinning in circles?
Truth be told, the questions you’re regularly exposed to act as guideposts that have a powerful influence on the direction of your life. And, not surprisingly, the questions you hear most often come directly from YOU. So instead of looking outside yourself for answers, start asking yourself the right questions. For instance…
- “Who am I?”
- “What do I need?”
- “How do I function best?”
- “What do I have to give?”
- “What’s the next step I can take right now?”
It’s all about self-inquiries that help you stay true to your principles, pursue your desires, grow through adversity, and add value to the world around you. (Marc and I cover dozens of important life questions as a theme that radiates through every chapter of our NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Now, it’s your turn…
Today, I hope you will have a delightful day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make something that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
And, please leave Marc and I a comment below and let us know what you think of this post. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂