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. 🙂
Victoria Evans says
Angel and Marc, I’m loving your new 1,000 Little Things book! Reading a page or two has been my morning routine for the past three weeks. Love it!
And thank you for this post. I agree with every point, and I would add to the list: Find healthy outlets for anger. My adult kids exercise hard if they feel mad, & the mad goes away. I bake (ok I bake for joy, too ?), & the mad dissolves. A friend buys a plant and adds it to her garden, & the mad goes away. Another friend journals. Any healthy outlet that works is good.
This needs to be poured in our public water system!
Love the wisdom…
Jay Mulligan says
You have set the bar very high in this message. I believe it to be one of your “time capsule” presentaions !!!!!!! I’ve been following you, and others, for years and I found this to be FULL of truths and wonderful observations. Thank you so much for this. Oh yes!!!! I am a huge fan of yours.
This post has some lovely reminders. I appreciate it. Because at one point early in life I had everything. Great kids, amazing job, fantastic friends, loving husband, wonderful income; I was content.
Then I lost everything.
It’s amazing to find who sticks around when you’re not at the top, and who runs away. At first it was hurtful and devastating, but then I realized it was a blessing. I was so busy living the dream I forgot to live. Forgot to take on challenges. Forgot to see the path in front of me instead of walking remotely in the direction of other people’s dreams; the very definition of life is to grow and thrive.
I try to make a point of living; the dirty, tough experience that it is… in many directions instead of one single-minded path. To grow with the change instead of being defeated by it. To thrive during the challenging times.
I guess there is something to be said about being neck deep in manure; you suddenly have a lot of growing to do to overcome it, but strangely enough, that manure is exactly what you needed to help you grow and thrive. The hard things to make you in the end.
Ps. I just picked up your new book at B&N! 🙂
Francine Pollace says
Fantastic article! I rehearse the good things in my life everyday and focus on the good. I do my best not to magnify what appears to be bad or negative. Focusing on the good enables me to deal with the bad, when I need to deal with it. Of course,doing is rarely easy but always worth it. Thanks again for a great article and I just signed up to receive your emails. Enjoy the day!
Christopher Kobee says
I love this article and am going to save it. I want to read this every morning so I can stop doing what a lot of your students are doing and that is talking the talk and not walking the walk. I want to get to this place in my soul and thats why I read your emails and listen to Optimal Living podcasts. Thank you guys for your great work!
I have had a couple of lousy days. If they were fish I’d throw them back. I was lying in bed telling myself it would be ok to wallow today and feel sorry for myself for the time being. I read your article in full (normally I just save them for a later date that doesn’t come). I read, I got up and I am going to crush it today. I am going to love me like I love my children, shrug off the petty, and take to heart your simple words, “just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.” Thank you.
This year I lost my husband of 26 years to another woman. I lost my little brother to death and one of my daughters to drugs. To say I have been struggling is an understatement. I have been reading and listening to every uplifting and positive thing I can find. I appreciate your work and want you to know you are a favorite of mine. Please let me know when you open up individual life counseling again. And also if you have any hard copies of your books available. Thank you for all that you do.
I’m with Tracy! Me, too, in terms of dealing with loss and reading every thing I can get my hands on. I thought this article was great and it inspired me to think differently. I have both of your books and I’d love to try a conference some time if it fits for me! Thank you!
Parminder Kaur says
Ultimate, today I learnt a lot from this article,12 hard things to start doing for your happiness. It not only got penetrated in my mind but also got assimilated well to run in my blood stream.
Well written, lucid n nice
Just as I was starting my day off on the wrong “thinking” or state of mind your email came through reminding me of so many important things. Thank you- you always seem to reach out when I need it most. Allowing old thoughts to control my daily life and be the first thing I think about is not healthy. I need to let go of the people that cause me negative thoughts and emotions and just BE and LIVE LIFE. Thank you both for all you do for me.
Wow… This article is so relevant. I’ll be reading this over and over again; at the office; at home; just to be constantly reminded…
Thank you for the advice. It’s been a eye opener for me.
Fatuma Juma says
Thanks very much for this Wonderful article. Brilliant work.
Very much needed for today’s world.
Will definitely use all things mentioned..You both are doing a wonderful service for the society. Keep up the good work M & A.
Have a great day
Awesome pieces of encouragement each day. Your articles helped me overcome a difficult situation I was struggling with in life. Each day, I have learnt to let go, live the current and embrace positivity in everything that comes my way. Keep up the good job Marc and Angel.You’re amazing creatures.
Sandy Covey says
Thoroughly enjoyed this post and shared it with several people. Every word was thoughtful and well sculpted. Keep up the important work you are doing and know you are making a difference. Thank you.
Dale Deatley says
Excellent reminder of what investment has to be made to have the life worth living. Thanks for the questions to rejoin my life – I realized while reading I am addicted to the national drama and I’ve become someone I don’t like. I’ll be pleased with me again once I ditch electronic newsfeeds and bathe my mind in healing meditation
Sandy Hoerle says
I love all your articles. Of course, they show up exactly when I need them. Often I print them!
I am so grateful for your intuitive and sensitive awareness. And how it informs your logic! Thank you so much!
Blessings and appreciation!!????
jer walsh says
I have been a reader of you guys for many, many years. Again, your comment on integrity is so true. Integrity allows you to get rid of those who cannot accept the truth but react with verbal attack. Do not need these people in my life
Cassie Jo says
I think I say this EVERYTIME an email comes in from you that it’s like you are reading my mind, know what I’m going through, and helping me figure this out..this thing called life and mind LOL Thank you so much!!
This post is one of your best. Need to keep the 12 points handy to read every day. You two are the best ! Thank you . xx
I was lost in my own petty drama and your article was a wake-up slap that I needed.
This post is truly transformative on many levels for me at this stage in my life. I am in the midsts if a divorce , ending a 30 year marriage that should have ended some time ago.
I have found your words extreme supportive and insightful, especially today.
According to #4 be positive and be around positive people you need to strive to be positive or according to the advice positive people will avoid you! You’ll attract more negativity.
Hi Marc and angel,
Ur every writeup puts more positivity in my life. Shows me more positivity and hope. U guys are just great. Writing and impacting are 2 different things but Ur words are impactful on a person. Something I guess anyone can associate with.
These posts are pure magic ??
They make me feel like I want to be the best version of myself I can possibly be in life to myself and to others.
Thankyou for your incredible time, efforts, authentic thoughts and feelings you both put into your Marc & Angel blog/posts. You are both putting out amazing information and are a phenomenal guide through everyday life for others.
Big hugs xoxoxo
valerie j says
agree totally with all the comments. am very grateful for your posts, which are positive, encouraging and get right to the core! reinforces so many good things that i know are right for me! thank you
Only one sentence would be enough for you guys,
You give shine to my soul.
Thank you for being such a positive influence and actually relating reality with positivity.
Lots of love
Great post. And yes positivity is key! I completely agree.
But I would like to add Stepping out of your comfort zone. Tony Robbins always says that growth equals happiness. And you grow as a person when you step out of your comfort zone.
Incredible! This could not come at a better time for me. So many struggles this year so far, yet so much to look forward to. “Just because your struggling dosent mean your failing” and so many other gems that completely switched on a light in the darkness for me. Thank you so much for this article. I am actually looking foreward to a new day, a new opportunity to grow and change! Thank you again ?
Katia Cooper says
Solid, genuine, implementable points. Thanks for listing them out so clearly and understandably.
Indira in South Africa says
wow!!! how amazing is this your posts have been mind blowing and uplifting in my life thank YOU …
Indira in South Africa says
It is not for anything but solution to all psychological troubles.Your write ups have been washing away a lot of suicidal challenges that could have sent many to their untimely grave.It means much to me and as many that are reading it. Keep it up God grant you more wisdom to reach out to more people that are under the yoke of psychological trauma
First time I have read one of your articles..just what I needed..thank you for such wonderful inspiration
Mary Ellen says
I received your book “1000 Thousand Little Things” a few weeks ago. I read sections everyday – really like this book -I highly recommend people add this to their book collection. It is on my nightstand and will be there for a long time. Well done!
– Mary Ellen
I am so inspired by this post! I have such admiration for you both! You have given me the inspiration to help become a better me! I love these 12 things…. they are my guidelines everyday to live and follow! I am so very grateful. It’s pure positivity!!!
Tracy Harvey says
It is a good way to approach the day. To stay mindfulness and sensitive to self and others.
Irene mistiola says
I want to thank you, marc and angel, for helping me in the road to positivity, to not trying to control the things that are not meant to be controlled. Everytime something happens that’s not suit my plans and expectations, your message through posts like this, and regular emails reverberates, soothes me, and places me into proper perspective. It has been six years since i last visited my psychoatrist for lighr depression. It’s a struggle but i like what i am becoming. I’m so glad i found you, guys!
This… the universe works in mysterious ways. Thank you for this lovely post.