You know you’re on the right track in life when you become uninterested in looking back, and eager to take the next step.
Angel and I have worked with thousands of coaching clients over the years. Together, they have given us incredible insight into what the average human being needs to do to go from “loathing” to “loving” their life. And, of course, we’ve successfully helped the vast majority of them gradually get from point A to point B.
What most of these people never suspected is that they would have to learn how to do lots of little things differently. Because the truth is, there are specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world that we all have to master before we can awaken to a simpler, happier, more fulfilling life – a life worth loving. And that’s precisely what this post is all about.
No matter what part of life’s path you’re traveling on, the list below will always be applicable. These are simple, positive habits that thousands of people who have learned to love their lives, now live by. Here’s what they do differently…
- They flow with life, not against it. – When everything in life seems to be going wrong, mostly it’s meant to go wrong so that you may outgrow the things you need to outgrow. Keep this in mind. Life may wreck your plans when your plans are about to wreck you. For everything you’ve lost, you’ve gained something else. You don’t have to accept it; it’s just easier if you do. When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little. Sometimes you simply need to take a deep breath and appreciate what is.
- They let go of self-defeating thoughts. – Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret and frustration. Let go of the need for approval too. You don’t need any of it. The world is as we are inside. What we think, we see, and we ultimately become. So choose your thoughts wisely. Think how you want to live.
- They prove themselves to themselves, not others. – If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone else, you’ve already forgotten your value. Don’t do this to yourself.
- They believe in the possibilities ahead. – You are a victim of the beliefs you live by. And a belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses, it is an idea that possesses the mind. So believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to succeed. Believe that there are many roads to what’s right. Believe in your intuition, especially when you have to choose between two good paths. Believe that the answers are out there waiting. Believe that life will surprise you again and again. Believe that the journey is the destination. Believe that it’s all worth your while.
- They find the positive in every situation. – The most underrated trait of all successful people I’ve ever met: Positivity. Your attitude directly determines how well you live your life.
- They appreciate what they have. – Every now and then it’s good to pause in your pursuit of happiness, look around, and simply be happy for what you already have in your life. (Read The How of Happiness.)
- They nurture their own inner peace. – In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. Take a few deep breaths, a relaxing walk, or a moment to meditate. When you find peace within, you who can live at peace in any situation.
- They find the courage to be real. – It takes courage to grow up, grow wiser, and turn out to be who you really are. Find the courage to own your story. To speak your truth. To ask for what you need. To set boundaries. And to reach out for love and support when you need it.
- They maintain high personal standards based on strong values. – Goals are important but they are temporary. Values on the other hand are forever. Raise your standards by taking a values-driven, not just a goal-focused, approach to life.
- They walk the talk and always set a great example. – Be the change you want to see. Give what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.
- They help themselves by helping others. – We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will… an idea or gesture that helps others live better. Strong people stand up for themselves; stronger people stand up for others too. Remember this next time you feel like flexing your muscles.
- They use self-reflection as a tool to keep things in perspective. – Never forget where you’ve been, lose sight of where you’re going, or take for granted the people who travel the journey with you.
- They make their important relationships a daily priority. – An incredible thing happens when you pay close attention. It’s by participating more in your relationships that you breathe life into them. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
- They accept that not all relationships are meant to last. – This is a harsh truth. And what we do with our pain is nearly everything. To punish people for not loving us is a heartbreaking, broken sort of justice. It just doesn’t work out for anyone. So let the wrong ones go, willingly. Ultimately, you will meet two kinds of people in life: those who build you up and those who tear you down. In the end, though, you will thank them both. Because the wrong relationships eventually lead to the right ones.
- They leave the past behind. – Don’t let the past steal your present. Your past has not defined, deterred, or defeated you. It has only strengthened who you are today. Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.
- They make every day count. – What you do daily matters more than what you do every once in awhile. Your life will not improve unless you start making daily improvements. It’s not about being the smartest, it’s about making the smartest decision. It’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right things.
- They do the work. – The near-term cost of discipline is always less than the long-term cost of lack of discipline. At some point you have to stop wishing for it and start working for it.
- They focus on effectiveness, not busyness. – The great paradox of our time is that many of us are busy and bored at the same time. Busyness and effectiveness are two different things. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- They get uncomfortable. – You can’t learn, grow and succeed until you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The best wins in life often come only after you dare to lose.
- They break-up their routines to seek new insight. – You will often see what is wrong when you are doing it right. But you will rarely see what is right when you are comfortably in the routine of doing it wrong. If you want a new tomorrow, then make new choices today. Mix it up! Sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need.
- They take action in spite of their fears. – Dreading is often far worse than just doing the thing. Dread rehearses a scenario over and over without progress and success ever showing up. So just do it already! Stand strong. Do what you fear, and fear disappears. Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions speak louder than your words.
- They use change as an opportunity to grow. – Life is change, but growth is optional. Choose wisely. To be a success in life you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to remain perfectly capable of improving. Let your mistakes, and life’s twists and turns, strengthen you. Growth and change may be painful sometimes, but nothing in life is as painful as staying stuck where you don’t belong.
- They always give themselves another chance. – Sometimes the bad things that happen in your life put you on a direct path to the best possible things that could ever happen to you. You just have to give yourself another chance to get there.
Do the best you can to smile. Be so busy loving your life and the people in it that you have no time left for hate, regret or unnecessary stress. In the end, loving your life is about trusting your intuition, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning through experience. It’s a long-term journey.
You have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting every step of the way. Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds – struggles and all. You might not end up exactly where you intended to go, but you will eventually arrive precisely where you need to be.
What habits help you love your life? What activities make you happy? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Rick Metayer
Leeann Froese says
This post was excellent – so much gold here.
“ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future”
and “Do what you fear, and fear disappears. ”
are just two of many takeaways.
Something that has helped me reduce stress and love my life more:
Refocusing more of my time and attention on my family and close friends.
One of the big things that I believe we need to do is to stop putting work before loved ones. A deadline is never worth the possibility of not being able to spend time around the people you love. More work will be there after you’re finished, but there is never a guarantee that they will be.
Marc (and Angel), you are helping me so much at this stage in my life. This post was timely and incredibly helpful.
I had been neglecting my happiness in more ways than I can count, but I’m making progress now. Thank you for this. Every few days I am sure to read one of your posts or a few pages of your book. They really give me the extra strength to move forward and fight for my honest existence. Little by little I am gaining more courage to forget my dark past and overcome my fears. Your posts are like bullets of positivity hitting me from deep within, and through them I’ve found many of the answers I’ve been searching for.
To answer your question: The habit that helps me love myself the most, is keeping a gratitude journal (and idea I got from your work). Every single morning, before I do anything else, I think about one thing that happened the day before that I am grateful for and I write it down and one or two sentences describing why I am grateful.
Susan Rae says
Thank you Marc. As much as I know all of these things, I think I need to print this out and post it where I can see it every day!
What helps me be happy:
1. Spending time doing things I love.
2. Spending time with great people.
3. Reading blogs and books like yours to keep me inspired and mindful.
Hi Marc, I think taking action in spite of your fears is what one of the big things that people who love their lives are doing.
we all live in fear of something or the other but the ability to confront the fear and act anyways often brings rewards, satisfaction, fulfillment. and our dreams can be achieve on the other sides of our fears.
I found that unlocking the doors of our dreams requires going through the gates of our fears 🙂
WOW !! I’ve been both thankful and a little bit critical of many posts here. I’ve often felt they were more for the young and for those who had people to love them. But this post…I think is just excellent because one can be at any stage in life and feel encouraged by these words. I will be reading this one every day !! I only wish I understood how to figure out my values. Thank you for this post!!
This is what keeps me happy:
– Being outdoors, challenging my fears, talking to strangers, being with friends and family, sticking to positive people.
Do the work, acting in spite of fears, and living with the uncomfortable are three things I still struggle with. I am sometimes overwhelmed with the abundance of my material life and distract myself to avoid those 3 things. My limiting thought is: why bother with the uncomfortable, the fear and the hard work when I can lay back and enjoy the short term rewards of my comfort bubble? I fight this thought as much as I can, but it sometimes wins. Any idea on how to win more often against this limiting thought?
Regarding point #9, “They maintain high personal standards based on strong values. – Goals are important but they are temporary. Values on the other hand are forever. Raise your standards by taking a values-driven, not just a goal-focused, approach to life”
Speaking from experience, you need to be aware that most people won’t have or meet your high personal standards. If you put expectations upon people that they have to have your “super” high personal standards, you will be disappointed over and over again. Take it from me… Have high standards of yourself. However, don’t place these standards upon others. They may be too heavy for them.
Judith Jefferson says
Thanks for these thoughts and quotes they help me so much. Each day as I struggle with where to live with my husband – return to Australia or stay in UK to be near my aging parents – but I know I have to look at mine and my husband’s interests and happiness too, which i struggle with each day. I often spend most of my time worrying about what others think instead of what we want from life.
Also the wisdom and quotes from your book really help me look at life in a more positive light which I need to do. Your book has been gradually bringing me out of my negative mindset.
This post was wonderful, as always. I am still fighting remembering my past all the time and worrying about the future… in other words I just waste too much present. Your posts always give me positivity for few days, but I know with more effort on my end I will be able to change myself for good and live a more positive life in the present.
Wow!!! I love these daily reminders of how to have a quality life. Number 8 and number 21 jumped out at me and that is what I will work on and I will do. I have done the courage all my life but somehow I need to do more there.
Fear had a hold in me for decades thus incapacitating my goals. Many thanks for your wonderful site and daily encouragement.
This is awesome! As well as the last post I commented on. #9 & #10 are things that i want to accomplish each day. To have healthy friendships, with or without intimate love, you have to ” do unto others what you wish to receive back from them”. You must give unconditional trust, and respect, then it can come back. Sometimes we have to be patient and wait a moment, but it comes. #19 Im still not comfortable being vulnerable and uncomfortable, but I’m practicing, lol! I badly want to show someone i love him, but haven’t figured out how yet, or maybe i have and don’t realize it… Life is good today, happy independence day 🙂
I feel so inspired by this post in particular. Being grateful for what I have, even in the midst of great sorrow and change, is something that really helps me. It makes me feel not alone in the world as I know there are always others who are struggling also. The big take away for me is to always believe in myself. I tend to short change myself and I recently realized that I have an inner strength I didn’t even know was there when I had a conversation with a person I had just met. It felt very affirming. Thank you!
Trust. Trust your instincts, trust that only you know what’s best for you, trust that you can do it, trust that everything will work out (just as it should). Fear is the insecurity talking. Turn up the trust and drown out the fear.
I love your work! Thank you for being such a contribution to this world! Here are a few of the practices that keep me happy.
1) Set an intention every morning. What do I want to create in my day? Who do I need to be to create that?
2) Write down 1 thing I am grateful for at the end of every day
3) Workout – getting the blood flowing is cathartic for me
4) Eat healthy – essential for me to feel good
5) Contribute to others
@ TLC – that is a fabulous statement. Firm. To the point. Lights a fire! Perfect.
As I was reading many things rang a bell. I have for so long 20 years did what made my husband and kids happy. Thinking back I have passed up many opportunities to make myself happy. Recently I had surgery I’ve been out of work 4 weeks now a friend wanted me to go eat with her and I did. My husband said something really ugly because my time at home should be spent with him. I really have a lot of things to work out for my happiness too.
Joshua Tilghman says
Lots of great insight for keeping life real. We often want life to get better, but sometimes we forget to realize that starting with something easy, like a change in perspective, is a big start to enjoying life more. For me, point number 12 has been so important lately. Without reflection, we can’t see be honest with ourselves about the best way to proceed.
Abdallah salum massoud says
Thank you for this fantastic posting.
Joel Brown says
“You are a victim of the beliefs you live by.”
So profound, and so true 🙂
Great article Marc and Angel; love your work!
This cut it for me. “In the end, though, you will thank them both. Because the wrong relationships eventually lead to the right ones.” In relationships, we can hold on to what is familiar, even if it has been proven not to work, simply because we don’t see that we can have it better. Thanks Marc.
I liked no 14 in particular – it is something I have to work on.
I think what I can add on (or reiterate) is that being grateful helps a lot.
Thank you for the wisdom in this post. This year I particularly resonate with #21 (take action in spite of fears). This is the year I found the courage to start writing and share my view of life and what I’ve learned from years of being a therapist. I’m talking back.
Suz - HeartMindHappy says
Love this post reaffirming all the things I have learned on my own personal journey.
Gratitude is the best attitude and being bold enough to make a difference to your own life and others around you is a blessing.
Thank you <3
Ah, I love how this post takes a lot of the principles I’ve read in ‘self-improvement’ books and lays them out in one blog post. Recently I’ve read The 4-Hour Work Week and The Millionaire Next Door and they both talk about what you’ve posted. Thanks for the easy reference guide!
There is so much sense in all of what you say that I wonder how on earth I couldn’t see the light until now?
And just like Dee, I found it timely and incredibly helpful.
Thank you so much.
No.14, says it all for me. I do not like changes and I have difficulty in “Letting go” of soured, destructive, dead relationship. I keep looking and hoping for things to turn around leaving no stones unturned and even after all that, I still have difficulty making the necessary move.
Shana Manuel says
Amazing! Can’t wait to share!
Julian Sirian says
Loved this article.
Gratitude is so important, as well as not being defined by the past. The one that really got to me (and is something I am consciously working on) is breaking the comfort zone. I’ve just discovered how tiny my comfort zone is, and now I’m trying to make the uncomfortable feelings that I feel when I try to do something uncomfortable, my friend.
Thanks for the reminder
Thank you for this. I needed to remember a few of these – in times of stress it can be easy to forget.
I love to write down things I’m thankful for and making sure I’m organised definitely helps keep me calm and grounded.
Marc Chernoff says
@Dee: Thank you for the extremely kind words. The gratitude journal is an opportunity to reflect on all the greatness surrounding us. I am so glad it’s helping. =)
@Vishnu: I absolutely agree. We can’t be afraid of facing our fears. They’re not as scary as we think, and they’re not here to stop us. They’re here to let us know that what we want is worth fighting for.
@Dewi: You have to do exactly the opposite – sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term happiness. Happy people are more interested in something being effective than they are in something being easy. While everyone else is looking for the quickest shortcut, they look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term. Living out this principle every single day is one of the most fundamental differences between people who live truly rewarding lives and those who don’t.
@Naveen: If you find yourself stressed, often times it’s because you’re thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Be in the moment. Stay present!
@Michelle: Thank you!
@Sarah: Our practices are very similar. 😉
@All: I honestly can’t get enough of your comments; they truly inspire me. Thank you for being here.
This post is just what I needed, thank you!!
Michael C. Craven says
These insights are fantastic. In my line of work as a divorce lawyer, I often see that relationships fall apart simply because the partners don’t put each other first. In our busy world, it takes an extra effort to make that happen. I also agree with your #14, to evaluate your relationships and decide if they are toxic and if you need to make a change. Easier said than done, of course, but worth the effort.
Michael C. Craven
Barrie R. Wagner says
As a Forensic Psychologist who works in criminal and family court, I totally agree with the problem of people not making a definitive decision to put their loved ones first. It takes daily thought and effort, otherwise couples and family members fall into toxic patterns of automatic thinking and negative assumptions. As always, love your tips Marc and Angel. I have several patients and clients signed up to receive your blog. Good stuff!
Dr. Barrie R. Wagner
Jill Alexander says
Such an important post! This is the good stuff…especially #1 Definitely sharing this!
Judith Wensink says
Only one thought remains; we do live forever…. to live according to that, you are able to accept and love whatever there is, or will come on your path.
Dear Marc and Angel,
Your posts are inspiring I read them everyday, they give me strength to face the day. And I need your help! My boyfriend is highly sensitive. He is very weak when confronted to his thoughts, instead of controlling them; they control his life. I want to help him but I don’t know how. Could you please help me by emailing me tips on how to deal with sensitive people and help him by giving tips on how to control his thoughts.
Thank you for everything you’re doing for us.
One word – Superb 🙂
So impressive! I live by always finding the positive even in the midst of chaos or tragedy. Keeping a gratitude journal is awesome. Thanks for these posts… they’re helping so many people.
Reading these words have inspired me. I am on a new path of discovering just what it is I need to do differently. Leaving the relationships that bring me down and spending more time in the relationships that lift me up are just a couple of ways I’ve changed.