Let’s fast forward: You are on your death bed, wondering and imagining what you could have done. You could have pursued that passion, opened that business, or spent more time with your loved ones. But that time has long passed, and the only thing you can do now is think about what is done – what is set in stone. Oh, what you would do to get those moments back and live your life the right way – to repaint the past, take chances, spit in the face of your fears, share your love, and live with no regrets.
Close your eyes and think about it – envision yourself lying there in your final moments feeling like this. Now open your eyes. What do you see? Life and opportunity. You still have a chance. What are you waiting for?
Below you will find twelve bad habits to stop in the next twelve months. Because sometimes the smartest way to get ahead, is to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.
- Stop settling for the same old routine. – So many people live daily with unhappy circumstances, and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation. They somehow believe that conforming to their current circumstances will eventually lead to a life of comfort, security, and peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to their spirit. The very basic core of the human spirit is a natural passion for exploration and growth. This growth comes directly from our encounters with new experiences; and hence there is no greater destination in life than to have an endlessly changing horizon – for each day to have a new and different sun. Read A New Earth.
- Stop ignoring your education. – Love it or hate it, being in school makes personal growth easy. You learn things that you never would have taught yourself otherwise. You are put in situations designed specifically to challenge your mind. But once your school days are over and the assignments have stopped, no one is forcing you to learn anymore. It is so easy to stall without the rituals of active schooling, and gradually slip into a pattern of educational idleness – many people do. As adults there is no curriculum to follow, except the goals we set for ourselves. Even though no one is actively challenging you, you must still choose to challenge yourself EVERY DAY.
- Stop trying to transform the people around you. – The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated as is. Sometimes we try to be sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image of what we want them to be – what we think we need, love, or desire. But these actions and perceptions are against reality, against their benefit and ours, and always end in disappointment – because it does not fit them. The beginning of love is to let those we care about be perfectly themselves, and not to distort them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
- Stop numbing yourself. – ‘Numbing’ is any activity that you use to desensitize your feelings so that you don’t experience vulnerability or hurt. But by numbing yourself to vulnerability, you also numb yourself to love, belonging, creativity, and empathy. Remember, love is scary. Love is risky. Love is unsafe. Love isn’t for the faint of heart. Love takes courage. And most importantly, love and fear can’t coexist. Love means giving someone the opportunity to break your heart, but trusting them not to.
- Stop belittling your potential. – You are a victim of the rules and beliefs you live by. But you are what you choose today, not what you have chosen before. So let today be the day you love yourself enough to no longer just dream of a better life; let today be the day you create it. Don’t hope for an easy way out. Look inside yourself for the strength you need to achieve your dreams, and then take action. Read The Road Less Traveled.
- Stop wasting time. – You are customer of bank called TIME. Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as a loss, whatever remainder you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you with the same deposit of 86,400 seconds. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the tomorrow. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success. You’re making withdrawals right this second; make them count.
- Stop disregarding your own significance. – You are one person out of seven billion people, on one planet out of eight, in one star system out of a hundred billion, in one galaxy out of another hundred billion. And you are enormously significant! Why? Because out of a hundred billion galaxies existing in a hundred billion star systems, out of seven billion people, you have your own unique genetic makeup. Your thumbprint and thoughts are yours alone. You can craft art, solve scientific problems, and create life through your love and passion. And you are depended on by others who love you. You are enormously significant.
- Stop getting sucked into needless drama. – No matter how badly people treat you, never drop down to their level; just know you’re better off without their negativity and walk away. If you attach yourself to their negative behavior it brings you down to their level. There honestly comes a time when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and people who create it, and surround yourself with people who make you smile so big that you forget the bad, and focus solely on good. Life truly is too short for anything less.
- Stop being so quick to judge. – No matter how strong a person is, they have weak points. And sometimes all they really need is a listening ear from a compassionate friend. You must consider their circumstances with love rather than judgment. You must move into the right here, right now, with an open heart and a willingness to be supportive, unconditionally.
- Stop focusing on the negative. – Anyone can see that it’s imperfect; it takes a wise person to see how it’s perfect. Anyone can describe how it’s getting worse; it takes a wise person to describe how it can be joyfully improved. Anyone can feel overwhelmed and give up; it takes a wise person to take compassionate, persistent and committed action every day. Wisdom is this simple. So start being wise with your perspective. Read The Tao of Pooh.
- Stop treating change as a bad thing. – In life, loss is inevitable. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, and so forth, is hard to accept. But everything around you – your body, your possessions, your relationships – is impermanent. Everything around you changes, so you must seek an understanding within yourself which remains forever. You don’t have control over every little thing that happens to you, but you do have control over how you decide to internalize it. One of the keys to happiness is to pay as much attention to the changes that are working positively in your life as you do to those changes that are giving you trouble.
- Stop stressing over what could have been. – Because the chances are if it should have been, it would have been. Change happens. Happiness is about trusting that what has happened has long-term positive rather than negative results. Trust that life is happening for you, not to you. This “inverse paranoia” of believing everything is for the greater good helps the human spirit face and welcome life’s changes cheerfully. Give it a try; it makes all the difference.
Photo by: J.T. Noriega